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 finance deal

Fiat 500 Hatchback (2008-2015) 1.2 lounge 3dr [start stop]

Finance price £84 per month

Cash price £5,300

Fiat 500 prices from £4,495  Finance from £84 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 consequently 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.

It 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.

Considering it's tiny size, the 500 is surprisingly roomy, but few adults will volunteer to sit in the back, while the lack of a middle rear seat is also restrictive. If you need a small car with space and practicality, then the Fiat Panda is a better bet, along with the Hyundai i10, which is similarly sensible but less boxy in appearance than the Panda.

For the full Italian summer look, the convertible Fiat 500C offers an open-topped experience, while there are plenty of special editions available with unique styling and interior feel. 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.

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.

Last Updated 

Friday, August 21, 2020 - 12:30

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.

 

  • 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. 
  • 2019 The range receives an overhaul, with new trim levels introduced along with exterior and interior updates. Pop Star and S models are discontinued and replaced by Star, Rockstar and Sport.
  • February 2020 The Fiat 500 mild-hybrid is launched throughout the trim range with prices starting at £12,665.

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, 1.0 mild-hybrid

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 £4,495 or £84 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 0.9-litre, 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 £5,995 or £120 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.

An additional option was introduced in 2020 when Fiat launched the 500 mild-hybrid. This makes use of a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine paired with a small, self-charging electric motor. In terms of performance, it's a mixed bag. This engine produces 70hp and helps the 500 from 0-62mph in 13.8 seconds and to an eventual top speed of 104mph. Emissions will be improved upon, with Fiat claiming CO2 emissions of 88g/km, but fuel economy seems unmoved, claiming 53.3mpg.

FuelOfficial fuel economyPowerAcceleration (0-62mph)Top speed
1.2Petrol53.3mpg69hp12.9sec99mph
0.9 TwinAir 85hpPetrol60.1mpg85hp11sec107mph
1.0Hybrid53.3mpg70hp13.8sec104mph

Fiat 500 Trims 

Pop, Lounge, Sport, Star, Rockstar

At the most basic level, Pop trim models come with 14-inch steel wheels and a modest amount of in-car equipment. Central locking and start stop are convenient, but there's nothing of real luxury to speak of. Safety tech in this entry level 500 is also acceptable with driver's and passenger side airbags, LED daytime running lights and a tyre pressure monitoring system. It's primitive, and you'll probably want to skip this step and look a little higher in the range.

Next up is the Lounge trim, and this is where the 500 moves into the 2020s. Along with tidy and up-to-date styling, Lounge models add 15-inch alloy wheels and rear parking sensors and a chrome finish on the outside. Inside, standard tech includes a seven-inch touchscreen display with Bluetooth and DAB radio, while Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are also on tap. The Lounge interior includes additions such as air-conditioning, cruise control, heated door mirrors, and a height adjustable steering wheel and drivers seat.

For an £170, you could instead go for Sport spec, which offers an alternative door mirror colour in place of the chrome finish on the Lounge.

Star models were new for 2019 and brought a new collection of tech including an additional seven-inch instrument cluster display. You'll also get 16-inch alloy wheels, body-coloured door mirrors, chrome trim and a glass roof.

At the top of the range, we have Rockstar trim. You get everything as it is in Star models, but additional styling features include even more chrome and tinted rear windows.

A special series model, the Dolcevita, brings some fanciful luxury to the range. It's only available in an exclusive white colour and includes 50/50 folding rear seats, dual-zone climate control and a number of exterior styling motifs to help other identify that you're driving a special Fiat 500.

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 298 Fiat 500s available on BuyaCar, with prices ranging from £4,495 to £20,138 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 £84 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 £5,600 and £101 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 £5,000 or £84 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

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Best for families Fiat 500 0.9 TwinAir 85 Lounge

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Best for economy Fiat 500 1.2 Lounge

£6,795£6,250£5,250