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07 Jul 2022

What We Dislike
Sluggish five-speed automated manual
Cheap interior plastics

The Fiat 500 has a compromised drivetrain but more than makes up for it with a charming exterior design and impressive fuel economy.


History repeats itself, as the popular saying goes. When the classic Nuova 500 first burst onto the scene in 1957, it gained traction as an affordable means of transport for an Italian economy that couldn't afford the high post-war costs of steel or fuel.

The causes of the high cost of cars and fuel here today are entirely different, of course. Yet, just eight months since we first caught word of the marque's return to our sunny island, this Fiat 500 looks once again set to bank on the same selling points that made its predecessor such a success, offering buyers access to private transportation at a small asking price alongside fuel-sipping economy as household expenses continue to rise.

At 3,571mm long and 1,627mm wide, you won't have any difficulty driving or parking this Fiat 500, even if it does not come with a reversing camera
So, does this modern-day Fiat 500 have what it takes to replicate the success of its predecessor here in Singapore?

Adorable little package

This current Fiat 500 certainly starts off in good stead thanks to its adorable exterior styling.

A total 2,300mm wheelbase here is wrapped up in sheet metal that suggests motion thanks to its forward-leaning stance, and there's irresistibly round, doe-eyed head lights up front, supported by square-ish taillights at the rear, much like those found on the undeniably adorable MINI range.

But the clever design of the Fiat 500 extends even into the cabin. Despite its compact exterior dimensions, there's actually reasonable space for those seated in front, and more leg and knee room that you'd be expecting if you crawl into the rear, even if headroom here is rather compromised.

A total of 84bhp from this two-cylinder engine is enough to keep the car on pace with the rest of traffic
Not so great however, are the dashboard and door cards, which are built largely from plastic that looks and feels low-rent, while the tactile response offered from the controls and switchgear here also warrant some improvement.

Feisty little number

Start driving and you'll also notice that the same can also be said to the car's ergonomics.

Without a telescopic steering wheel, those of taller builds will have to either sit in a near upright position or have gibbon-like long arms and short legs to reach the steering wheel comfortably should they choose to slide the seat far back enough for decent knee room.

7.0-inch touchscreen offers handy advice on how to save petrol, but you won't need it: Regular driving will see an economy of 14.0km/L
But don't let these things put you off getting one, for the drive in this Fiat 500 is a real hoot.

There may be a diminutive 875cc two-cylinder engine under the bonnet of this 500, but the car's mere 930kg of total weight means the 84bhp output from this unit delivers enough acceleration so you hardly ever feel wanting for more speed in everyday traffic.

The motor is also quite the pleasing thing to push along, delivering strong torque in the mid-range, while playing a rather pleasing rat-ta-ta-tat at the lower ranges.

And being this tiny of an engine within a lightweight car also means you should be able to hit fuel economy figures close to 14.0km/L.

Knee and leg room at the rear is reasonable for the segment, but you'll be wanting for head room
Settle into a steady pace and you'll find an excellent ride that delivers high on pliancy in the Fiat 500. Pitch and dive are still present when driving over larger bumps, but otherwise, motoring along in this supermini is a rather composed affair despite that short wheelbase.

All these however, are let down by a dim-witted transmission. The five-speed automated manual here not only delivers shifts in a sluggish manner, but is unashamed to do so in a lurching fashion.

Appealing little price

At $139,999, this Fiat 500 is asking for just a bit more than the typical hatchback options including the Honda Jazz (yours from $131,999) or the Suzuki Swift (which is asking for $121,900).

Don't volunteer to send your friends to the airport: There's only 185-litres of cargo capacity here
I suspect, however, that shoppers here will more likely be cross shopping this against the MINI One 3-Door, which delivers charm and visual appeal in equal measure alongside more power, drivetrain refinement, and a more premium cabin. This MINI however, comes with a larger $156,888 price tag (all prices as of 7 July 2022).

It's a compromised car, this Fiat 500 is, but presents itself next to the MINI as a more honest supermini with all of its faults and a smaller price tag, while losing out on none of the charm. If you're already smitten by its good looks, go get one. It deserves another chapter in the annals of automotive history.

Looking for a small hatchback? There's also these options to consider:

The Mazda2 Hatchback combines a sporty exterior with a punchy 1.5-litre engine

While the Volkswagen Polo comes with a comfortable ride and well-equipped cabin

The Seat Ibiza combines modern good looks with sufficient space for the family

Or, there's also the Audi A1, with sharp styling and plenty of tech to consider
Car Information
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Fiat 500 Coupe 0.9 TwinAir Turbo (A)
Rate it

Price

: $149,999

Engine Type

:

2-cylinder TwinAir Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

875cc

Horsepower

:

63kW (84 bhp) / 5500 rpm

Torque

:

145 Nm / 1900 rpm

Transmission

:

5-speed (A)

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

11sec

Top Speed

:

172km/h

Fuel consumption

:

26.3km/L

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Tags :  

car review  fiat  500  fiat 500  supermini  three-door  hatchback