Fiat 500 Review 2024

Fiat 500 At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
It might be getting on in years, but the Fiat 500 remains hugely appealing in many ways. It has style to spare, and works reasonably well as an everyday car for one person or a couple.

+Stylish and full of character. Really affordable to buy. Low running costs.

-Not very practical. Bouncy ride. Sluggish performance. In-car tech is behind the times.

New prices start from £16,735, brokers can source from £18,995
Insurance Groups are between 5–19
On average it achieves 76% of the official MPG figure

Believe it or not, the Fiat 500 city car has been around since 2007. Time and massive popularity haven’t dimmed its character or retro-chic appeal – indeed, it’s a mark of how right the design was that only small changes have been made over the years. But does the Fiat 500 still have the substance to back up its style?

In some ways, the Fiat 500 has always been a bit compromised because of its shape. That’s most obvious inside. Although there is pretty generous space up front, the back seats are only really suitable for children, and the boot is barely big enough for a single, medium-sized suitcase.

However, since most Fiat 500 owners are single people or couples, that tends not to be an issue. They can simply place excess luggage onto the back seat, or leave it permanently folded down.

The Fiat 500’s interior still looks just as stylish as its exterior, and many of the surfaces are pleasantly tactile. Body-coloured dashboard trim and a standard panoramic glass roof really lift the ambience, too. Build quality is very good.

The Fiat 500’s dining chair-like seating position won’t suit everyone, but it’s very easy to drive and a bit of a giggle with it. Around town, it’s light and zippy, and few cars are so easy to park. Out of town, it feels trustworthy in corners and generally rides smoothly, although really bumpy roads can make it quite bouncy.

It’s quite an involved process, driving the Fiat 500. You can feel how the car is interacting with the road and the engine needs to be worked hard to maintain progress. That won’t suit everyone, but it can be good fun.        

Speaking of the engine, there’s just one currently available in the Fiat 500: the 1.0-litre GSE petrol engine with a mild-hybrid system. It only produces 70PS, but the electric boost of the hybrid system makes for quite nippy acceleration around town. On faster roads it starts to feel quite sluggish, but the engine is designed to stand up to the thrashing it needs to maintain higher speeds. The six-speed manual gearbox is lovely to use, too. Looking to go electric? Check out the Fiat 500 Electric

Running costs for the Fiat 500 are very low. Average fuel economy of 60mpg is possible, and servicing won’t cost much.

There are three models to choose from: the regular 500, 500 Top and 500 (RED). All come pretty well-equipped for this type of car, with standard features including air conditioning, cruise control and a touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity. It’s not the best system, but it’s still useful to have something more than just a basic stereo.

Mid-range Top specification adds satellite navigation, rear parking sensors and alloy wheels. The (RED) has the same features, plus some extra elements that make the interior a healthier environment for its occupants. Buying one also helps raise money for the (RED) health charity.

At the time of writing, the Fiat 500 range is priced from just under £17,000 to just over £18,000, making it one of the most affordable new cars in the UK. We reckon it’s very good value – even more so if you take advantage of one of the hefty discounts that are currently available.

The Fiat 500 has always been a car that is bought with the heart, rather than the head. It’s just so cute and characterful, and it’s always enjoyable to spend time with one. It’s not perfect by any means. But if it really appeals to you, we don’t think you’ll regret choosing one.

Ask Honest John

Does the Fiat 500 Twin Air use a belt or chain?

"I have a 2015 Fiat 500 Twin Air which has done 33,000 miles. Should I be considering having the cam belt changed? "
The Fiat 500 875cc TwinAir uses a timing chain and not a belt. It's designed to last the life of the car, which it should do as long as you keep the oil clean with a change every 12 months or 12,000 miles (whichever comes first).
Answered by Dan Powell

What is the safest small car?

"What would be the safest small car to buy, Fiat 500 size? "
The smallest cars (classed as city cars) generally have lower Euro NCAP safety ratings than larger models, but it's often more due to the reduced level of driver-assist technology rather than their crash test scores. This is done to keep the price low. We'd avoid the Fiat 500 in petrol form as it has below average adult and child occupant protection scores, but the new electric 500e has decent ratings. Pretty much every other city car has a three star Euro NCAP rating, which is acceptable, but the Seat Mii/VW Up/Skoda Citigo models all have good occupant protection scores. The latest Kia Picanto also scores well, particularly with the optional safety pack, as does the Smart ForFour. If ultimate safety matters, though, larger models like the latest VW Polo and Skoda Fabia have top five star ratings.
Answered by Lawrence Allan

What is the best engine for a Fiat 500?

"What's the best engine for a Fiat 500?"
I'd personally go for the TwinAir for its character and relative punch, although you won't get the fuel economy that Fiat quotes. Here's our review:
Answered by Russell Campbell

Does the Fiat 500 1.2 petrol have a timing chain or belt?

"Does my Fiat 500 1.2 petrol have a timing chain or belt?"
Cam belt. I'd suggest changing the belt, tensioner, pulley and water pump every 60,000 miles or five years (whichever comes first).
Answered by Dan Powell
More Questions

What does a Fiat 500 cost?

Buy new from £18,995(list price from £26,195)