- Retro styling
- Fun to drive
- Efficient engines
- Not the biggest in class
- Interior quality not the best
- Unstable at higher speeds
Iconic city car is good-looking, and fun to drive about town
The first generation Fiat 500, produced between 1957 to 1975, was one of the world’s best-selling production cars. With nearly four million sold, the 500 offered small, practical, stylish family motoring. Reintroduced by the Italian manufacturer in 2007, the new 500 takes stylish cues and its ethos from the original. It features retro styling and interior, a similar chassis platform, and punchy nimble engines, all of which make the 500 a great city car. It faces a lot of competition in the city car sector, but there’s few that can match the uniqueness on offer in the 500.
An update in 2016 featured a minor exterior facelift, and revised alloy wheel options.
Lively interior is all about style
With the exterior of the 500 being so retro, it’s good to see that the interior of the 500 sticks to this ethos as well. There’s colour-coded trim throughout the cabin, and though the quality of materials isn’t the best, it sure looks great. There’s also a surprising amount of space for such a small car.
When you step inside the 500, you’ll be immediately struck by the design on show. Dash and interior panels are colour coded with the exterior of the car, even on the most basic trims. The design itself is influenced by the 1960s, which make the interior of the 500 look like a modernized version of an American diner. It’s also customizable, so almost every 500 is unique. Soft-touch materials don’t feature at all, and the hard plastics aren’t of the best quality, but there’s few interiors as stylish as the 500’s.
Space wise the 500 is also pretty impressive, for a city car at least. It’s not as big as most city car rivals, (the Hyundai i10 and the Skoda Citigo both have more practical boot spaces), but the 500 still offers a decent sized 185-litre boot. There’s enough room for shopping, and even a small buggy, which should come in handy. If you’re looking for true practicality, it’s worth looking at rivals, but there’s enough space on offer for most.
Spec levels in the 500 are pretty reasonable. The entry-level Pop trim comes with electric front windows, central locking, electric mirrors, and USB connectivity. The next trim up in the range, Pop Star, is the one that offers the best value however. This adds alloys, air conditioning, and split-folding rear seats, all of which most buyers will appreciate.
All in all the interior of the 500 is a success. It’s not the most spacious, nor does it exude the same quality as you might find in a Volkswagen Up!, but there’s few cars on sale with an interior quite as unique as in the Fiat 500.
Fun to drive around town
The Fiat 500 is a car that’s designed and engineered to be a car that’s great to drive in the city. With such a small chassis platform, the 500 is nimble and light. It struggles a bit with motorway driving, but it is a city car after all.
The Fiat 500 is one of the best cars currently on sale at weaving in and out of busy city traffic. Steering is light, which also makes parking a doddle, with a City button for the tightest of spots. There’s also plenty of grip. It really is a fun car to drive. Take the 500 out of its comfort zone however, and things don’t look quite as impressive. Steering isn’t weighted well for high speed B-roads, and motorway driving isn’t the best experience. But the 500 is a city car, and there are few that are as fun to drive in the city.
Ride refinement in the 500 isn’t quite as impressive as its handling. It copes with the majority of rough surfaces well, but the car can become quite jolting over the worst of surfaces, and over speed humps it feels remarkably like a small boat over rough water. Wind and road noise are also noticeable with motorway driving, but it’s unlikely that most 500 owners will spend too much time worrying about that.
Gearbox options in the 500 come in two forms. The standard option throughout the range is a 5-speed manual box. It features a pretty short shift action, which is ideal for quick adjustments in the city, but it can be a little vague at times. The optional Dualogic semi-automatic gearbox has been reviewed pretty negatively by critics across the board, so is probably one to avoid.
Perky petrols are great for city driving
When it comes to deciding how you want to power your 500, you’ve got three options: petrol, diesel, or electric. All engines offer good fuel efficiency and low C02 emissions, and there’s even an option for true petrolheads.
If speed is your primary concern, you’ll be pleased to know that there is a ‘hot’ version of the 500. The Abarth 595 features a 1.4 litre petrol engine that produces 180bhp. In a car this light, it feels stupendously quick, and it’ll get you from 0-62mpg in just 6.7 seconds. Through busy cities there are few cars as nimble, or as fast as the Abarth 595, so for true petrolheads it’s a great option to consider.
The eco-friendly buyer will also be pleased to know that there’s an emission-free electric 500. The Fiat 500e offers drivers a plug-in electric, which produces no emissions at all. This means that a government grant is on offer, as well as free road tax, free London congestion charge, and most importantly, no negative impact on the planet. It’s one of the greenest cars currently on the market.
The money savers out there will probably want to look towards diesel power. The 1.3 litre Multijet engine on offer in the 500 range offers an incredible 83mpg. With that level of fuel consumption you can save yourself a lot of money at the fuel pumps, and with sub-100g/km of C02 emissions, you won’t be paying any money on road tax either.
Whichever engine you choose to go for in your 500 you’re going to get an efficient, green engine that has enough kick to get you in and around the city. You can’t really go wrong in the 500 range, and there’s an engine for every buyer's needs and concerns.
Full marks in NCAP safety tests, good standard equipment
Unlike a lot of cars in its class, the Fiat 500 achieved the maximum 5-star NCAP safety rating. This rating was undertaken in 2007 however, when tests were much less stringent than they are today. Nevertheless the 500 still scored pretty highly. There’s also a lot of standard safety equipment. You’re going to get an impressive seven airbags, stability control, and a tyre pressure monitoring system. The 500 is one of the safest city cars out there.
Excellent value for money, as long as you avoid the cost of new-car depreciation
The Fiat 500 offers drivers excellent value for money. This obviously varies from model to model, but throughout the range you’re going to get impressive fuel efficiency and low C02 emissions. Even Abarth models score impressively in both of these areas, but the real stars of the show are the 1.0 litre petrol, and the 1.3 litre diesel, both of which have free road tax, and achieve more than 70mpg.
Insurance wise the 500 is pretty reasonable. This again depends upon which model you choose, but generally speaking you shouldn’t be paying too much. The cheapest model to insure in the 500 range is the 1.2 Pop, which is in group 9, whilst the most expensive is the hot hatch Abarth 595 1.4 T-Jet Turismo, which is in group 28. It’s not the cheapest city car to insure on the market, but it’s still affordable.
Depreciation is one area that particularly affects the 500, but only for the first year. With first year depreciation as high as 40%, you’re better off opting for an inspected used equivalent.
The Fiat 500 is one of the most iconic city cars currently on sale. It offers retro looks, both inside and out, is a great car to drive around the city, and offers some impressively efficient, green engines. It’s not the best in its class, but it’s certainly the most fun.
Buying a used Fiat 500 online with Carspring
If you’re after a used Fiat 500 for sale, it can all feel like a bit of an ordeal. What, with long days spent around gigantic car supermarkets, or time spent trawling through classified websites, looking for that ideal used 500. Carspring makes it simple. Buy your next used Fiat 500 online with the touch of a button. Simply decide on the model you want and choose how you want to pay.
Looking to finance your used 500? Not a problem, we work with our carefully selected finance partners to ensure that, if you’re paying monthly for your used Fiat 500, you know you’re getting the best rates. What’s more, with any Carspring used 500, you also get our 14-day money-back guarantee and 6 months’ free Carspring Warranty. Plus, you don’t have to leave your home. We’ll deliver your used Fiat to you at a time and place of your choice.
*This is an approximate figure based on the range of the car’s list price and the AA’s average 1st-year depreciation cost of 40%.