What’s this then?
You’re looking at the distinctive shape of the Fiat 500 – refreshed this year and on sale now.
A surprising amount actually, though most of it can be found under the skin. The 500′s iconic form remains largely unchanged, but that bit didn’t really need messing with anyway.
Inside, the biggest change is a new TFT instrument display within the familiar circular gauge pod – available from Lounge trim and above. The new tech means details such as the gear-shift indicator, trip computer data, navigation instructions and media info can all be displayed clearly. If you opt for the new TwinAir engine, a Sport mode button also brings up a turbo boost gauge – largely pointless, but a bit of light-hearted fun.
What powers it?
That’s the other new part. Well, new-ish. Fiat’s TwinAir engine – a 900cc, twin-cylinder turbocharged lump – debuted in the 500 a few years back, but now it develops 105 horses, 20 up on the old unit. There’s enough urge for a ten-second 0-62 mph sprint (accompanied by one of the most distinctive engine notes of any car right now), and a claimed 67.3 mpg on the combined cycle.
We’d take this latter figure with a pinch of salt, since TwinAirs are rather less impressive on real world economy. But hey, you still get zero-rate VED, and it’s a heap of fun. Other 500 engines include a 69-horsepower 1.2 and a 95-horse 1.3 diesel (free VED for this one too). At some point, a refreshed 500 Abarth is sure to appear.
Fiat is offering three new colours for the 500 – Urban white tri-coat (available on the Pop, Lounge, Cult Convertible and S), Smooth Mint (Pop, Lounge and Cult) and Electronica blue (500S only).
What’s the damage?
10,160, for an entry-level 1.2 Pop, with plenty of standard kit – start-stop, seven airbags, electric windows and mirrors, remote central locking, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, a height-adjustable steering wheel and electric power steering. The drop-top Pop (the 500C) begins at 13,160.
Colour Therapy 500 and 500Cs cost 10,960 and 13,510 respectively, and Lounge models (available with every engine in the range) start at 11,560. A sporty 500S costs 11,710 (14,710 with a soft-top), while top-end Cult models begin at 13,060 for a 1.2 hard-top and spiral to 17,960 for the Multijet diesel convertible.
Perhaps the car that closest echoes the 500′s personalisation options and sliding-roof convertible model is the Citroen DS3. Pricing starts a little higher, at 12,495, but you do get a little more space and a wider range of engines. Most are pretty frugal too – e-HDi Airdream models get within a whisker of 80 mpg.
The MINI is another obvious choice. And for a couple of 500 alternatives that feel similar to drive but offer different levels of style, you should look at Fiat’s own Panda, and the Chrysler Ypsilon – each sits on the 500′s platform.
In a line:
Retro city car boosts its appeal.