Fiat 500 Review logo

Fiat 500 Review

Car image
Car image
Car image
Car image
Car image
Car image
Car image
Car image
Car image
Car image
Car image

1/10

Car image

2/10

Car image

3/10

Car image

4/10

Car image

5/10

Car image

6/10

Car image

7/10

Car image

8/10

Car image

9/10

Car image

10/10

1 / 10

heycar review

      Launch year
      2008
      Body type
      City
      Fuel type
      Petrol
heycar editorial team

Written by

heycar editorial team

00/10
heycar rating
“Stylish, expensive, compact but average”

Best bits

  • Chic styling
  • Low fuel costs
  • Mid-spec models are well-equipped

Not so great

  • Cramped cabin
  • Lackluster handling 
  • Unrefined Dualogic automatic gearbox

Read by

Fiat 500 Exterior

Overall verdict

Fiat 500 Interior

On the inside

Fiat 500 Side

Driving

Fiat 500 Back

How much does it cost to run

Fiat 500 Back Seats

Prices, versions and specification

Overall verdict

"The Fiat 500 is a stylish city car that uses its classic heritage to pull at your heartstrings. However, while chic and retro, the 500 falls flat in several important areas. That said, if you love the looks, you'll probably be happy to overlook its many shortcomings."

Fiat 500 Exterior

Inspired by the 1957 classic, the Fiat 500 delivers modern city car motoring with an Italian twist. However, like an ice cream left in the Italian sun, the 500 wavers when you compare it to the best in class from Volkswagen, Kia and Suzuki.


But let's be honest, if you’re here it’s probably because you’ve already fallen in love with the retro looks of the Fiat 500. And we agree - the Fiat 500 is one of the best-looking city cars you can buy. Its compact and cute styling gives a heavy nod to past. However, while the 500 is undeniably one of the most attractive small cars on sale, it also has the tendency to be one of the most frustrating. 


Most of the Fiat 500's problems are caused by the fact it's very small. The cabin is cramped, the seats narrow and the boot is barely large enough to cope with a weekly food shop. Technically the 500 is a four-seater, but only children will be able to make use of the rear seats. 


Mid-spec versions of the 500  are advertised with a height adjustable driver’s seat, but the lever at the side only changes the angle of the seat rather than the height. The steering doesn’t have any reach adjustment either, which means short and tall people will find the 500 equally frustrating when trying to find a decent driving position. 


The 500 isn't particularly good to drive, either. The steering is light and accurate, but there isn’t a great feel of feedback via the wheel or pedals. This isn’t really a problem below 30mph, but take this small Fiat onto a twisty A road at 50mph and the overpowered steering makes it difficult to find any bond with the handling. The 500 is a safe and predictable car to drive (there's plenty of grip) but there is very little fun to be had from this pint-sized Fiat. 


The handling is further diminished by the soft suspension, which results in a bouncy and uncomfortable ride quality at low-speeds. Things do settle down when you venture past 50mph, but there’s lots of sideways travel in the suspension and this means even a moderate turn will cause the body of the 500 to roll heavily. 


General equipment levels are fine. The entry-level Pop model gets a basic DAB radio and USB socket that lets you play music via a mobile device. We’d recommend spending extra on a Fiat 500 in Lounge spec, which adds a smart seven-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. 


Most versions measure just 3.6 metres in length, which makes the 500 an easy thing to to live with in a town or city where space is limited. What’s more, at 1.7 metres wide, the 500 has little trouble cutting its way through heavy traffic or squeezing into a narrow parking space. 


Is the Fiat 500 right for you?

If you want a chic city car that stands out from the crowd then the Fiat 500 is worth considering. Admittedly, it doesn’t fare well against its rivals for value, performance or practicality, but it's still one of the most stylish small cars you can get. 

What’s the best Fiat 500 model/engine to choose?

The Fiat 500 has received many revisions since it was relaunched in 2008. The most significant change was in 2015, when the 0.9-litre TwinAir and a 1.2-litre petrol engines were introduced. Both engines are frugal and notably more refined than the old 1.2-litre and 1.4-litre engines they replaced. 


A petrol mild hybrid was added in 2019, which combines a 1.0-litre engine with a 12v electric motor and a lithium-ion battery to reduce tailpipe emissions and boost low-gear acceleration. The 70PS 1.0-litre hybrid is mated to a smooth shifting five-speed manual gearbox and delivers good fuel economy, with Fiat claiming 53mpg. 


The older 1.2-litre petrol develops 69PS but is offered with a Dualogic automatic gearbox only. This transmission makes the 1.2-litre engine extremely noisy under acceleration. It isn’t particularly refined at low-speeds, with lots of hesitancy between gear changes. 


What other cars are similar to the Fiat 500?

The Volkswagen Up is the best city car to drive, while the Hyundai i10 and Kia Picanto are spacious and supplied with long warranties. However, if you want something that'll standout from the small car crowd then the Suzuki Ignis is worth considering, with its quirky retro design giving a clear nod to the Whizzkid hatch from the 1970s. 

Learn more

Fiat 500 Interior

On the inside

Fiat 500 Side

Driving

Fiat 500 Back

How much does it cost to run

Fiat 500 Back Seats

Prices, versions and specification