Fiat 500 (2008) Review

Fiat 500 (2008) At A Glance

Funky looks and desirable image. Faithful to original. Easy to drive in town. Suspension improved from 2010.

Not as good to drive or as practical as a Volkswagen Up or Hyundai i10. Increasing number of reported reliability problems.

New prices start from £10,100, brokers can source from £11,260
Contract hire deals from £121.24 per month
Insurance Groups are between 5–19
On average it achieves 76% of the official MPG figure

A huge success for Fiat, the 500 is certainly cute, plus it’s available with a huge range of customisation options, right down to coloured keyfobs. Unfortunately, it’s not the most practical small car, with a cramped cabin and a small boot but, if you’ve fallen for the cute looks, you’ll forgive a few flaws.

The engine range consists of a 1.2-litre petrol, a 0.9-litre TwinAir petrol or a 1.3-litre diesel. Of these the TwinAir suits the 500 best – it’s responsive and eager, although meeting official economy figures in real world driving is tricky. Earlier cars were also offered with a 1.4-litre petrol, but this was discontinued in 2011.

On the road the 500 is unremarkable to drive. The steering is light but reasonably accurate, while the compact dimensions make urban driving tremendously easy. However, on a twisting road or on the motorway the 500 never feels settled and there is noticeable body roll when cornering.

Inside, the cabin has the same retro look as the exterior, with a painted dashboard panel and big, circular speedometer. Unfortunately, while it looks good it’s not very practical. The front seats are cramped for taller occupants and the back row is too small to be of any real use. The boot isn’t very big either, at just 185 litres.

Fiat has constantly tweaked the 500 since its original launch in 2007, with the most significant changes in 2015. Externally the updated car has different headlights, tail lights and running lights, while the interior benefits from a new, user-friendly touchscreen infotainment system and a new dashboard layout. 

If you’re looking for a sensible, practical town car, the Hyunndai i10 or Volkswagen Up are better choices since they are more spacious, better-equipped and more competent on the open road. But if you’re style-conscious then there is no small car to match the Fiat 500 for image or personalisation. 

 

Real MPG average for a Fiat 500 (2008)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance

76%

Real MPG

35–74 mpg

MPGs submitted

606

Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

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Ask Honest John

Can you trade-in a car that's worth more than the vehicle you are buying?
"A friend of mine has a three year old Mercedes-Benz A-Class, valued at around £16,000. She wants to buy a new Fiat 500 and expects to spend £14,000. Is this something a dealer will consider? "
They'll consider it. But the price they offer for the A-Class will probably be low, unless the dealer has a buyer lined up for the trade-in car. Your friend will be better selling it privately.
Answered by Dan Powell
Why does my car's steering feel heavy sometimes?
"My Fiat 500's steering suddenly feels heavy when going in a straight line but feels normal when I turn the wheel. What's the issue?"
The Fiat 500 has electric power steering, which will give lumpy performance if the battery is struggling to hold a full charge. I imagine the battery needs replacing.
Answered by Dan Powell
Will a used Fiat 500 be reliable?
"I’m looking for a new car as my last one was written off in an accident that wasn’t my fault. I have a fairly low budget of £4000. My friend has offered to sell me her 2013 Fiat 500 with around 60,000 miles on it for £2000. I know it’s a good deal, however, I’m worried about the age and mileage. Fiats don’t have the best reputation either. Do you have any advice? Thanks."
The Fiat 500 is a stylish little car. But it has an awful record for reliability, with lots of reported faults: https://www.honestjohn.co.uk/carbycar/fiat/500-2007/ Given your budget, I'd recommend a Ford Fiesta 1.25 petrol or a Suzuki Swift 1.2 petrol.
Answered by Dan Powell
Should I refurb or replace my kerbed alloy wheels?
"I damaged two of my 2015 Fiat 500 alloy wheels on a kerb and each has a small chip on the rim. Refurbishing two wheels costs £160 - £220 and I will not be sure that they are safe. Fiat wheels are £700 - £1200 for four, and replacement alloys (Dare, Calibre, Autec) are around £400 - £500 for four. What is your opinion of the non-manufacturer replacement wheels?"
Unless your alloy wheels are severely damaged, replacing them sounds like a waste of money compared to have them refurbished. Replacing them with aftermarket wheels will lower its resale value, could impact fuel economy and might upset the ride quality. You'll have to notify your insurance company, too.
Answered by Andrew Brady

What does a Fiat 500 (2008) cost?

Buy new from £11,260 (list price from £13,590)
Contract hire from £121.24 per month