Garry Fabian road tests and reviews the Fiat 500.
The 2014 Fiat 500 instantly summons up images of the classic 1969 film “The Italian Job”.
While the 2014 Fiat 500 is technically worlds apart, it remains endearing in many ways and you can rest assured knowing it still definitely has its share of flaws!
However, if you want a fun little economy car the 500 should be on your test-drive list.
Pricing for the Fiat 500 range starts at $16,000 and rounds out at $20,500 and through the range there’s a choice of three engines; 1.2 litre turbocharged two-cylinder, and 1.2 and 1.4 litre four-cylinder power plants.
Transmission choices are six-speed manual (1.4 litre engine only), five-speed manual (1.2 litre engine only) or five-speed automatic (all engines).
The 500 recently got a mini-update from Fiat and now features a new interior colour, improved headroom for the front passenger and a new front-seat armrest that’s standard on all trims except the base-level 500 POP.
Some of the drawbacks to take note of include; limited rear headroom and overall cabin space, the steering wheel doesn’t telescope and in general the Fiat 500 is just less fun to drive than it looks.
I tested out the entry-level 500 POP and while the 1.2 litre engine performed well, it did lack a little punch. The 51kW and 102Nm outputs are enough to get you around town, but steep hills and highway driving aren’t the little Italians forte.
To keep up, especially when tackling hills, you need to really use the engine and manipulate the five-speed manual transmission.
Fuel consumption comes in at a claimed combined rate for the 1.2 litre engine at just 5.0L/100kms. This compares the larger engine’s claimed 5.8L/100kms and the turbocharged engine should use around 3.9L/100kms.
Standard equipment in this grade of the Fiat includes 15” steel wheels with hubcaps, central locking, air-conditioning, electric windows and mirrors, cruise control, split-folding rear seats, a trip computer, Bluetooth and an auxiliary audio input.
For a little extra you can step up to the 500 Sport and this comes with things like alloy wheels, sportier suspension and an upgraded stereo system.
At the top of the line-up is the 500 Lounge which is available in hatchback or a convertible and adds high-end touches such as automatic climate control and park assist.
There are also customization options available for all grades and these include extras such as heated seats and leather upholstery.
The 2014 Fiat 500 range comes with a full five-star ANCAP safety rating.
Summing it up; the 500 may look like a barrel of laughs, but it drives mostly like the economy car it is.
A car as tiny as the 500 is bound to feel nimble, of course, and sure enough this Fiat likes tight spaces, darting through the concrete jungle with sure-footed poise.
Get it out on a real road though, with real curves, and what you notice is the Fiat 500’s lack of power, high centre of gravity and dull and heavy steering.
NUTS and BOLTS
Engine: 1.2 litre petrol producing 51kW and 102Nm, 1.4 litre petrol producing 74kW and 131Nm and 0.9 litre turbo-petrol producing 63kW and 145Nm
Transmission: Five-speed manual, six-speed manual, five-speed automatic
Safety: Five stars
Price: From $16,000
For further information, please see Recalls and faults: Fiat 500.