The Fiat 500’s shape may look similar to the original version released in 1957, but nearly nothing else sticks to the original back to basics appeal. The new 500 is a beyond cool offering with an expensive look and feel that allows city dwellers to own something with the appeal of a MINI for much less money.
Fiat originally launched the 500 under the moniker “Nuova 500” in 1957 and made it until 1975. The “Nuova 500” sold 3,893,294 units and was credited with helping to get a post war Italy moving again. The latest version was released in 2007 and has sold very well across the UK. Fiat unveiled the convertible version of the 500 in 2009.
Consumers will be excited with the range of engine choices available in the Fiat 500. The engine that seems to be getting many drivers attention is the two-cylinder 0.9-litre TwinAir petrol unit. Fiat is obviously on a mission to dominate the citycar market.
While the 0.9-litre engine is the most popular there are four other engines for consumers to choose from when looking at the 500. Three petrol powered versions: a 1.2-litre with 69bhp, the 1.4-litre with 100bhp and the sporty 1.4-litre 155bhp turbocharged Abarth model. The 500 can also be had with a 95bhp JTDm diesel.
All the engine choices come with a five or six speed manual transmission. The 500 has been designed to mimic the nimble feel of the original version, the way this car drives often tickles the driver’s funny bone. The 500 has a simple MacPherson strut suspension up front and a basic torsion beam in the back. Fiat has added a few inches to the frame. The Abarth model comes with retooled suspension, a couple of aerodynamic tweaks and tougher steering.
The 500 is built at the same plant that builds the Panda cars and the chassis of the 500 is also used to form the base for the Ford Ka. The Fiat 500 measures 1.49m high, 1.65m wide and 3.55m long making it a very small car. To give a reference point the MINI measures in at 1.40m high, 1.91m wide and 3.69m long. That makes the MINI seem almost MAXI when compared to the petit 500.
Inside the car there is a nice mix of retro cool and extremely modern design, with round head rests, a glass roof and the iconic 500 brand on the dashboard, which was originally designed for the Panda. As noted before the 500C is the convertible option. The vents are chrome ringed and in a tip of the hat to the original the fascia can be ordered to match the exterior color to mimic the painted metal found in the “Nuova 500”.
Overall the Fiat 500 is one of the least expensive cars to own in both sticker price and driving expenses. The diesel engine gets an estimate 65mpg while the 1.2-litre TwinAir petrol adds a few more miles to the tank with an average of 69mpg. The other savings will be had because the 500 TwinAir engine will be exempt from the London congestion fee and will incur zero road tax cost because of the 95g/km emissions.
City folk who do not have to drive a lot of miles on a routine basis will find the clever design of the 500 and the 500c a great choice. The 500 offers a quality ride, excellent gas mileage and a fun feel without making the owner break the bank.
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