For years we have been crying out for small cars to be cool again. VW tried and failed with the Beetle, but when BMW struck gold with the Mini the whole industry took note. It’s now possible to make small cars aspirational, and importantly for the car makers, profitable, and now it’s Fiat’s turn to grab some of the limelight.
The new 500 is essentially a shortened Fiat Panda at a higher price which on the face of it doesn’t sound like a great proposition. However, Fiat has nailed the styling by combining key features of the original with a modern twist which allows it to look uniquely retro and yet bang up to date all at the same time.
Inside, the style assault continues with a clean and well laid out dashboard which proves functional and attractive. The interior is lifted by the inclusion of a body coloured strip which adds to the feeling that Fiat has put real effort into the design of this little car. That Fiat can make a design masterpiece isn’t a major shock but what about the mechanicals? This is the most robustly engineered Fiat yet. The doors close with a ‘thunk’ and general fit and finish is on a par with any of the European manufacturers. This is borne out by the excellent 5 star adult occupant Euro NCAP rating. Whilst it isn’t as much fun to drive as the Panda it doesn’t disgrace itself and the ride is good for such a short wheelbase.
The 500 will find many homes thanks to its great looks alone. However, beneath the skin there is a depth to the engineering which you may not have expected, and with competitive interior space for the class it is also a surprisingly sensible buy too. The addition of a particulate trap completes a great package.