Recommended. A reboot of Fiat’s modern classic should see the 500 maintain its popularity.
It’s eight years now since Fiat launched the modern version of its classic 500 and it’s been hugely popular.
Fiat hit gold when it revived the name, surfing a wave of nostalgia for the original 1957 car and riding the personalisation craze as well.
Now, the 500 has had its biggest overhaul since its 2007 launch.
While at a quick glance things might not look much different, the firm says that 1,800 changes have been made to the car, which has sold more than 1.5 million units.
A closer look reveals that much has actually changed. The exterior sees new headlights and taillights, both of which add to a fresher look.
Inside, though, is where things have changed the most, with Fiat catching up in an area where it was lagging behind a bit.
Buyers have various new interiors to choose from, as well as, if it was possible, even more personalisation options.
The old-style digital dashboard is replaced with a smart colour display in front of the driver, with all of the key info shown in an eye-catching fashion.
All models now also get the Uconnect touch screen system, with six speakers, a USB port and steering wheels controls all standard – key things when you’re marketing a car to a young audience.
You’ve still got the choice of hatchback and convertible and there are three trim levels – Pop, Pop Star and Lounge.
Pop Star adds air con, defrosting door mirrors and 15in alloys, while top-end Lounge gets a panoramic sunroof, parking sensors, chrome front grille, front fogs, a bit of leather trim and a bigger, 5in, Uconnect system, which again hits the target demographic with smartphone integration and built-in apps.
Engine-wise, they’re the same as before but with improved figures, so you’ve got the character-packed two-cylinder TwinAir, with either 85hp or 105hp, along with the 1.2.
The TwinAir suits the car perfectly, evoking memories of the original little car, and it claims 74 to the gallon (you won’t get near that though, sadly) and puffs out just 90g/km of CO2. Its bigger brother still manages 67 to the gallon and 99g/km.
It’s lively and thrummy, but it does carry a £1,300 premium over the 1.2, which is still able enough and gets to 60 to the gallon and 110g/km – set to be lowered to 99g/km soon.
It’s a fun drive, especially around town, although the steering does get oddly heavy above 20mph.
The 500 remains a great fun and stylish city car that Fiat has evolved nicely for 2015.
Next: ratings and breakdown