Other car reviews by

Michael Woodhouse

Fiat 500

T here’s no denying that the 500 has been a huge success for Fiat, the Italian firm has sold over 1.5 million of its diminutive city car since it was forged from the ashes of the original. Although even that number pales into insignificance when you realise the original sold over 3.8 million during its life time.

But in order to take the new vehicle that step closer, the best selling Fiat by many a furlong has been given a refresh.

It has not grown in size but it has grown in maturity with more technologies, improved efficiency and even more customisation ideas. Fiat hopes that by carefully evolving and refining the features which have made it so popular that more people will take to the little vehicle. And I have to say that it’s working.

I haven’t been a fan of the 500; I don’t like the steering, the styling or the fact it is so cramped in the rear. But this new iteration of the car is beginning to change my mind.

Available in two body styles - hatchback and convertible - the Fiat 500 will be available in three trim levels: Pop, Pop Star and Lounge, and starts from £10,890. All models have LED daytime running lights, seven airbags and a Uconnect infotainment system with six speakers, AUX-IN/USB ports and steering wheel remote controls as standard equipment. Those details make even the base vehicle feel a little more mature, and closer to competitors such as the Vauxhall Adam.

The Pop Star version adds air conditioning, body-colour mirror caps with defrosting function and 15-inch alloy wheels, while the Lounge version adds more eye-catching features such as a panoramic glass sunroof, rear parking sensors, a chrome front grille, front fog lights, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and a Uconnect 5” LIVE touchscreen infotainment system, (but word to the wise, there’s a 7” version coming next year), with smartphone integration and numerous built-in apps to help users stay safely connected while on the move. And if you look under the bonnet there have been some adjustments too.

The engine line-up includes the 0.9-litre TwinAir engine with outputs of 85hp or 105hp, and a 1.2-litre 69hp unit. The two-cylinder engines boast emissions of 90g/km for the 85hp engine and 99g/km for the 105hp unit - while a new ‘Eco’ configuration of the 1.2 litre 69hp will reduce emissions to 99g/km of CO2.

Now I know that official vehicle efficiency tests have been in the news quite a lot recently, but at the moment the current system is the only way we have of comparing vehicles. So although you may scoff when I say that officially the 500 manages 74.3MPG, it is a comparative sign of how efficient the 500’s TwinAir 0.9 85hp petrol engine is. And you could always play a game with yourself trying to match those levels.

Behind the wheel things are pretty similar to the previous 500, but driving it around the streets and countryside of Turin, Italy, this refreshed version felt more grown up, more assertive than before.

The steering remains light, but that’s well suited to the urban streets it will most likely run along, and although the official figures for fuel efficiency might seem optimistic you can’t deny that the choice of power units suits the type of driving the 500 will do on a daily basis. I wouldn’t take it on any long motorway jaunts, but it’s quite happy – and comfortable – for shorter blasts up the dual carriageway.

There’s little that Fiat could do with the amount of rear seat space and luggage room given the vehicle’s dimensions, and I guess the need to keep it looking cute. And frankly if you really want more space, but want a car with a 500 badge, go and take a look at its big brother, the 500X.

If you want something streetwise, you could do a lot worse than the 500, and sales keep climbing so while I may not be in love with it, there are plenty of people who are.

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