Fiat 500 (2008-present)

Stylish and fun to drive, the Fiat 500 has more character than most cars - but isn't the most practical city car option

Strengths & Weaknesses

Strengths 

Great personalisation options
Retro-inspired styling
Fun and nippy in town

Weaknesses 

Cheapest version only has basic equipment
Latest safety tech not available
TwinAir engine can't match official mpg figures
Best New Discount

Fiat 500 Hatchback 0.9 twinair lounge 3dr

Total RRP £15,355

Your quote £13,544

You Save £1,811

Fiat 500 prices from £4,526  Finance from £81 per month

Cute looks and a cheeky sense of fun have made the Fiat 500 a huge sales success. With retro styling that calls to mind the classic lines of its 1950s predecessor, the Fiat 500 makes you feel like you’re weaving around scooters on the winding streets of Rome every time you take a trip to Tesco.

Alternatives such as the Skoda Citigo, Volkswagen Up and Kia Picanto may be cheaper and more sensible, with larger interiors and the feeling you’re driving a bigger, more sophisticated car, but the 500 will put a wider grin on your face.

That's partly because of its design, but also thanks to its small dimensions and light steering, which makes it easy to dart around town in. The more expensive TwinAir petrol engine adds more character because it only has two cylinders and conseqently makes a distinctive thrum and needs to be worked hard, engaging you in the driving process more than most small cars - it's just nowhere near as economical as the official mpg figures suggest.

The car can cope with longer journeys at motorway speeds but the constant engine noise and slightly bumpy ride can detract from its charm and start to wear you down.

For such a tiny car, the 500 is surprisingly roomy, but still, few adults will volunteer to sit in the back. While they might fit, there's no room to stretch out and no middle rear seat. If you need a small car with space and practicality, then Fiat’s Panda is a better bet. It gives you five doors compared with the 500’s three, and provides 225 litres of luggage space – compared with the 500’s 185 litres, which is fairly average for city cars. The Hyundai i10 is similarly sensible but manages to look less boxy than the Panda.

Inside, the chic design continues. There's a case to be made for the very cheapest Pop cars, which cost from £4,526 or £81 per month on BuyaCar, as they have a traditional cream-coloured radio that suits the rest of the car. Unfortunately, air-conditioning, alloy wheels and Bluetooth wireless connectivity are optional.

More expensive Lounge models have these features and replace the radio with a touchscreen media system. Used prices start at £4,526 or £81 per month. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto arrived on special edition Mirror cars in early 2018 and have been standard since then on 500S models, making it easy to control apps from the touchscreen or with voice commands. They are optional on the rest of the range. 

The option list of the Fiat 500 is a weighty document, with plenty of customisable colour and trim choices to add a personal stamp to the car. You'll be able to find plenty of personalised cars on the used market too, so even if you have unusual tastes, there should be a used model to suit.

For the full Italian summer look, a convertible version - the Fiat 500C - is available, and there are plenty of special editions available. The Collezione has extra chrome trim, two-tone grey seats and an optional two-tone paint scheme; Colour Therapy cars are bright with white wheel covers and a pool ball-style gear knob; speedboat-inspired Riva versions have a mahogany dashboard, ivory leather seats and a special 'Sera' blue paint.

There's probably more variety to choose from than with other small cars, but alternatives, including the Vauxhall Adam, Renault Twingo, Peugeot 108, Toyota Aygo and more-expensive Mini Hatchback also have extensive personalisation options.

The 500 was given five stars for safety when independently crash tested by Euro NCAP in 2007. It has Isofix attachments for child seats in the back but doesn’t offer the latest equipment, like automatic emergency braking. Do bear in mind, however, that the crash test has become far more challenging since 2007, so cars receiving five stars more than a decade on are likely to be much safer than the 500 in reality.

It might not have cutting edge technology, and there are plenty of cheaper, more spacious options, but if you like to look good and feel good while nipping to the shops, there are few city cars that can match the tiny Fiat’s retro charm.

Last Updated 

Wednesday, July 31, 2019 - 11:30

Key facts 

Warranty: 
Three years/60,000 miles
Boot size: 
185 litres
Width: 
1,627mm
Length: 
3,571mm
Height: 
1,488mm
Tax (min to max): 
£105 to £145 in first year, £140 thereafter

Best Fiat 500 for... 

Fiat 500 1.2 Lounge
On paper, the Fiat 500's 1.2-litre petrol engine isn't the most efficient, but it's little different to the smaller TwinAir motor in real-world driving. It's also the cheapest model, so is likely to be the cheapest Fiat 500 when everything's taken into account.
Fiat 500 0.9 TwinAir 85 Lounge
The dinky little 500 is not the best choice for your primary family car, but this affordable mid-range version is an ideal second car for shopping trips and school runs.
Fiat 500 0.9 TwinAir 105 S
The more powerful version of the buzzy, TwinAir engine turns the 500 into a very fun car to drive, even if it's not hugely fast in the grand scheme of things. S trim makes the car look sportier.
Fiat 500 1.2 Pop Dualogic
An automatic gearbox in a small car like this is rarely a good idea, as they can struggle to make the best of what little power is on offer from the engine. The entry-level Pop specification and basic 1.2-litre petrol engine are not the most fun combination.

Fiat 500 History 

  • January 2008 Fiat 500 goes on sale in UK
  • December 2008 Fiat 500bydiesel special edition launched with denim-effect fabric
  • February 2009 Gets fuel-saving stop-start technology
  • October 2010 30,000 Fiats, including some 500s, recalled for airbag issue
  • May 2011 Fiat 500 byGucci special edition launched with white or black Gucci paint and leather seats
  • August 2012 Fiat 500 Colour Therapy special editions include bright paint, white wheel covers, pool ball gear knob and air conditioning.
  • September 2015 Fiat 500 is updated, with minor design weaks to lights; Uconnect touchscreen and improved interior quality
  • June 2016 The Fiat 500S is reintroduced, with sportier looking bumpers, tinted windows and a standard 7in touchscreen 
  • July 2016 Fiat 500 Riva special edition goes on sale, with mahogany dashboard, ivory leather and special 'Sera' blue paint.
  • January 2018 Special-edition Mirror models come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The tech is added to 500S versions too.
  • March 2018 Fiat 500 Collezione special edition has extra chrome highlights and two-tone paint option
  • September 2018 Automatic versions and more powerful 105hp TwinAir engine are no longer produced.
  • October 2018 An autumn edition of the 500 Collezione is launched, with burgundy and grey paint and copper-coloured wheels. 

Understanding Fiat 500 car names 

  • 500
  • Engine
    0.9 TwinAir
  • Trim
    Lounge
  • Gearbox
    Dualogic
  • Engine
    Fiat 500 engines are small and the size is given in litres - just 0.9 in this case. Some of the petrol engines have two cylinders instead of the normal four and are called TwinAir. The 1.2 engine is a conventional four-cylinder petrol motor and does not carry a specific name. An earlier diesel engine is badged Multijet.
  • Trim
    There are four basic trim levels (Pop, Pop Star, Lounge and S), but Fiat has offered numerous special editions over the years, often in collaboration with fashion brands.
  • Gearbox
    Dualogic is Fiat's name for the 500's automatic gearbox.

Fiat 500 Engines 

Petrol: 0.9 TwinAir, 1.2

If you're looking for a low-cost Fiat 500, then the 1.2-litre petrol engine is the least expensive choice. BuyaCar prices start at £4,526 or £82 per month. It's reasonably nippy and quiet in town, but does take its time accelerating to motorway speeds, so you'll need planning and patience when overtaking. You can expect arond 40mpg, according to the Equa Index, which estimates real-world fuel economy based on public road testing. An Eco version added measures to boost efficiency (such as start-stop, to switch the engine off at traffic lights), but its mpg isn't much greater.

If you can stretch to paying a little more, Fiat's tiny two-cylinder ‘TwinAir’ engine puts the fizz into the 500. You need to rev it to get the best performance (which is part of the appeal), at which point it zips along with an exhaust burble. Prices start at £5,399 or £81 per month. A new method of measuring fuel economy has reduced its lofty official mpg figures, but they are still far in excess of the 40mpg that you can expect in the real world - no better than the 1.2.

A more powerful 105hp version of the TwinAir engine was available until mid-2018 but is no longer being sold. There's no longer a diesel option either, even though this was the most economical Fiat 500 by far - you can expect around 60mpg. It's ideal if you're regularly making long journeys, but if that's the case, you're better off with a larger and quieter car.

FuelOfficial fuel economyPowerAcceleration (0-62mph)Top speed
1.2Petrol53.3mpg69hp12.9sec99mph
0.9 TwinAir 85hpPetrol60.1mpg85hp11sec107mph

Fiat 500 Trims 

Pop, Pop Star, Lounge, S

The 500 Pop is the entry point to 500 ownership, with chrome door handles, a height-adjustable steering wheel, USB connectivity, electric windows and electric door mirrors, as well as LED lights that are on during the day.

It feels a bit spartan, so most buyers will choose to pay a little under £1,000 more to step up to Pop Star so you can enjoy air-conditioning, 15in alloy wheels and the versatility of a split-folding rear seat to free up extra luggage space without having to fold down both rear seats.

You have to opt for the Lounge version - and pay another £1,000 - for standard Bluetooth phone connection, as well as a sunroof, leather steering wheel, a 5in touchscreen to control the radio, height-adjustable driver’s seat, foglights and parking sensors. It has quite a high list price for such a small car – although Fiat 500 deals can cut that price by £1,000.

For £500 more, the top-of-the-range model is the new Fiat 500S, which is meant to be the sportiest model, even though its engines have no more power than the other versions. It's fitted with bigger bumpers and graphite grey alloy wheels. Inside, the car is fitted with black sports seats that have contrasting white, blue or yellow panels and the dashboard touchscreen is expanded to 7in. In the latest 2018 cars, this includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for smooth smartphone operation.

Behind the steering wheel is another 7in screen in place of the speedometer, which can display more information right under the driver's nose, such as sat-nav directions and phone details. This is also an option on Fiat 500 Lounge models. The 500S also comes with the option of a powerful Beats stereo. Sat-nav is an option, as with all other Fiat 500 models.

Fiat 500 Reliability and warranty 

The Fiat 500 isn't the car to choose for long warranty cover. The standard three year / 60,000 mile protection that comes when new is well short of the five years offered by Toyota and Hyundai, and the seven years from Kia.

Owners love the way that the car looks but some are frustrated with minor niggles, according to the latest Auto Express Driver Power satisfaction survey. It was ranked 60 out of 75 cars for reliability in the 2018 poll, with electrical faults the most common issue.

Another comprehensive poll, the JD Power dependability survey, which focuses on older used models, also scored the Fiat 500 poorly. It was below average for reliability, which may mean that an extended warranty is a wise investment.

Used Fiat 500 

The Fiat 500 is in demand, but its popularity means that there's also a high level of supply, bringing affordable prices and plenty of choice.

There are currently 465 Fiat 500s available on BuyaCar, with prices ranging from £4,526 to £17,995 for nearly-new models.

The car is particularly affordable on finance, thanks to that high level of demand, which ensures that it retains its value well. Monthly finance payments start from £81 per month.

Updated cars are easily identified by their "hollow" rear-lights, which have a body-coloured panel in the middle of each cluster. These cars, sold since September 2015, had numerous minor updates to improve quality and efficiency. There's not a great deal of difference to lower-specification cars but more-expesive Lounge cars did gain a touchscreen as part of the improvements.

The standard air conditioning on Pop Star cars is a big advantage over the entry-level Pop version, and does mean that you're likely to pay more - Pop Star models start at £5,211 and £89 per month on BuyaCar. And unless you're keen to retain that car's classic-looking cream-coloured radio, then the higher-specification Lounge model, with a touchscreen, Bluetooth and sunroof, will prove tempting, considering prices are only a little higher, starting at £4,526 or £81 per month on BuyaCar.

The Mirror special edition cars guarantee you Apple CarPlay and Android Auto software (as do most 500S cars built in 2018). Riva models feel expecially luxurious with a mahogany dashboard.

 

Fiat 500: used car prices1 year old2 years old3 years old

Best for performance Fiat 500 0.9 TwinAir 105

N/A£6,795N/A

Best for families Fiat 500 0.9 TwinAir 85 Lounge

N/A£6,795N/A

Best for economy Fiat 500 1.2 Lounge

£6,890£5,729£4,995

Fiat 500 Prices

Fiat 500 Lounge

0.9 twinair lounge 3dr

  • Doors 3
  • Fuel petrol
  • Economy 74.3mpg
  • Gears manual

Starting at: £13,544

You could save up to: £1811

1.2 lounge 3dr

  • Doors 3
  • Fuel petrol
  • Economy 60.1mpg
  • Gears manual

Starting at: £12,315

You could save up to: £1570

1.2 lounge 3dr dualogic

  • Doors 3
  • Fuel petrol
  • Economy 62.8mpg
  • Gears automatic

Starting at: £13,080

You could save up to: £1725

Fiat 500 Pop

1.2 pop 3dr

  • Doors 3
  • Fuel petrol
  • Economy 60.1mpg
  • Gears manual

Starting at: £10,827

You could save up to: £1328

1.2 pop 3dr dualogic

  • Doors 3
  • Fuel petrol
  • Economy 62.8mpg
  • Gears automatic

Starting at: £11,592

You could save up to: £1463