Grips, rides well
Fine up front
Great ride, dashtop
Decent spec for €
Gorgeous, upscale, great motors
No Abarth yet
No 1.4 Turbo yet
More feel needed
Some cheap plastics
Cramped rear, not cheap, limited numbers
Probably one of the best designs of the 2007. It looks great from every viewing angle, with perfect dimensions, surfacing, detailing and proportions. It looks great in every colour, too, although interiors are colour coded so avoid the white. There's a vast array of customisation options too.
The basic engine offers workmanlike performance but its streets ahead of the likes of the Ka and Twingo for flexibility. The 1.3 diesel suffers from some lag but is fine on the open road while the 1.4 feels properly nippy and willing, making it the choice for anyone who likes to drive.
The 500 doesn't steer with the involvement we had initially expected but it grips and turns in well, with lots of traction and minimal body roll. There's not enough feel through the steering but the Ford Ka, which shares its platform with the 500, should open the lines of communication.
The cabin is one of the 500's most surprising aspects - it's gorgeous. There's a perfect blend of old and new and the layout logical and easy to grasp. Even the busy dial cluster, which should cause information overload, works well. Seats lack support, though.
Fiat's city car is, bizarrely, the best made car the company makes. Materials are first rate (until you look at the bottom half of the cabin), the construction seems to be excellent and it rides surprisingly well, too, for such a small car.
Astonishingly, the 500 will have seven airbags, ISOFIX child seat mounts, seatbelt pre-tensioners and load limiters all as standard. Automatic lights and wipers, park aids and ESP will be optional but only the 1.4 gets ESP as standard, sadly. Expect a 5-Star NCAP score.
The driving position isn't bad and front space is decent but rear space is merely adequate and the boot's pretty tiny. There's no five-door planned either but then, this was never meant to be a family car.
The 500 isn't a bargain model like its Twingo rival. It's more expensive than the Panda but, to its credit, if feels worth the extra. Running costs are low, especially thanks to its long warranty, and residuals should be uncharacteristically strong, too.
A staggering seven airbags, electric front windows, remote locks, power steering, colour coded cabin and a CD player adorn the base model. A few more Euros gets you alloy wheels, a spoiler and at the top level, A/C. 1.4 models enjoy ESP and discs all round. Grab handles only appear on top model!
Three engines power the 500, with even the basic 69hp/102Nm 1.2 proving to be surprisingly perky. The 75hp/145Nm 1.2 (it's badged 1.3) turbo diesel is a better engine but not worth the extra cash but the 100hp/131Nm 1.4 is the one to go for.