Fiat 500 (2008) Review

Fiat 500 (2008) At A Glance

3/5

+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 £11,302
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)

RealMPG

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

612

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.

Satisfaction Index

Satisfaction Index What is your car like to live with?

We need your help with our latest Satisfaction Index, so that we can help others make a smarter car buying decision. What's it like to live with your car? Love it? Loath it? We want to know. Let us know about your car - it will only take a few minutes and you could be helping thousands of others.

Help us with the Honest John Satisfaction Index now

Ask Honest John

Can you recommend a small car for short journeys?
"Which car do you recommend for short journeys? I now only drive about 3 miles per day to work. Also, would it be better to go for a brand new one or one a couple of years old? Need it to be reliable and cost-effective. I currently have a 2004 Volkswagen Lupo with 90,000 miles on the clock. I've had it from brand new and it been great but it's starting to cost me in repairs to keep it on the road. I think it could be time to change. Thanks."
A brand new car is a bit extravagant for your short commute but it might be worthwhile – a small amount each month on a PCP payment, for example, will take away the need to worry about the annual MOT test or the cost of repairs as the car gets older. We'd recommend a Kia Picanto or Suzuki Swift – two little cars which will be very cheap to run. You might find an electric car suits your needs, too – something like the electric Fiat 500 or Peugeot e-208.
Answered by Andrew Brady
A used car I want hasn't had the timing belt changed. Is is necessary?
"I'm buying a 2009 Fiat 500 with 68,000 miles. Although it has regular serving stamps, there is no evidence of the timing belt being replaced. What should I expect the trade dealer to offer to do about it?"
The interval is every five years or 74,500 miles (although this was revised to 60k on some models), so there should be evidence of a timing belt change. Where the book has been stamped, it should also say what service was carried out (eg level two, or even 60k service) - which you can double-check to see what it includes. Don't be fobbed off if the dealer says it's good for another 5k - the belts perish over time as well as through use. It's also critical to get the belt done as depending on what kind of engine it's got a snapped belt could lead to the pistons clattering into the valves and the engine being scrapped. If the dealer can't satisfactorily prove to you the belt has been changed (with actual evidence as opposed to verbal reassurance or excuses like 'we're still waiting on the history file), then you have two choices. One is that you can walk away. The other is that you tell them you won't be buying the car until they've replaced the belt.
Answered by Keith Moody
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

What does a Fiat 500 (2008) cost?

Buy new from £11,302 (list price from £13,205)