It’s not often I get to revisit a favourite, but was lucky to do so with the revamped 2016 Fiat 500 Pop.
With a mild exterior makeover and a slightly less mild interior freshen, it’s still a hoot to drive, even with a torque-less 1.2 litre naturally aspirated four cylinder engine and five speed manual transmission.
Why is it so much fun?
The Pop brings backs the basics of driving, and that’s not meant in a critical way. It needs the driver to be involved, by asking for a plan of attack before attempting anything.
It asks the driver to think about rev points when changing gear, to look in the mirrors when changing lanes or reversing, to judge when is the right time to overtake.
That tiny powerplant delivers 51kW and just 102Nm.
The downside of that torque becomes apparent when climbing hills.
Out on the flat, the Fiat 500 Pop is an adequate if not startling performer. It’ll zip the tacho around readily enough but naturally needs a bit of cycling through the dash mounted gear lever to get up to speed.
Actual ride quality can be a bit choppy with rebounds, road noise and a tendency to wander but on a smooth tarmac surface there’s a comfortable, absorbent, almost plush ride.
There’s a propensity for the engine to rev high from a standing start. It’s also a juggling act balancing the clutch against the accelerator.
The Fiat 500 pushes the fifteen inch diameter alloys out to each corner, offering up competent handling and allowing the driver to move the Pop around with alacrity and a high level of confidence.
Naturally it makes parking a doddle and with the back of the car almost at fingertip’s length, the lack of a reversing camera really isn’t an issue. Having a broad track also provides a sense of stability.
Due to the compact size, you get 4.2L/100km out of the 35 litre tank.
The 500 also comes with a button on the redesigned dash that changes the weight of the steering and adds more feeling to the already communicative steering.
The interior of the Series 4 500 is a surprisingly cosy and enjoyable place to be. Cosy in that there’s just enough rear seat leg room but also because it’s a delightful view.
Colour coded dash plastic, higher quality feel to the materials, some trim changes, all meet to bring the 500 up to date.
There’s a better look and feel to the plastics and the placement of the manual’s gear lever, up in the lower section of the centre stack, feels more natural and intuitive.
A/C controls go back to basics. Atop them is a five inch touchscreen with DAB radio fitted -a welcome surprise.
Even the headrests feel newer and more modern but stay true to the heritage of the 500.
Lob in Euro spec heated mirrors, electric windows, LED driving lights and you’ve got plenty of value in a $18,000 package.
I adore the 2016 Fiat 500 Pop. It brings back fun to the driving experience, basic in presentation while being engaging to drive. Easy on the eyes, inside and out, the updates don’t stray too far from the original.
NUTS and BOLTS – 2016 Fiat 500 Pop
Engine: 1.2L turbo diesel producing 51kW and 102Nm
Transmission: Five-speed manual
Warranty: 3 Year/150,000 km
Safety: Five stars
Price: From $18,000