Fiat 500 Review: Still Cheerful and All Smiles
There are some cars that look the same for quite a long time and yet still manage to put a smile on one’s face. One of them has to be the Fiat 500.
It disappeared from price lists but makes a comeback again in 2022 with a new 875 cc two-cylinder turbo engine. But essentially, the car is pretty much unchanged from the day I first drove it almost a decade ago.
It’s a lot smaller than many other car manufacturers would dare to make a car these days, but because of this the Fiat 500 is refreshingly light at 930 kg.
Light cars always make for fun driving. There’s just a whole lot less inertia; they steer better, brake better and handle better. The Fiat 500 is all of those and it is even more apparent today when compared against cars that have gained a significant amount of weight during those years.
Its engine sounds like a motorbike motor, yes, but there is tremendous torque in the mid-range that really makes light work of making rapid progress in the 500. Don’t believe the numbers in the brochure, the car feels faster than stated.
What helps is the semi-automatic gearbox which is essentially a manual gearbox using a robotised clutch, so there is less drivetrain losses. It’s been a while since I tried such a gearbox. Where I last left off, I chided these types of gearboxes for their slow shifts and laughably inept jerkiness. It’s all the same now in operation, but somehow it has turned charming. Modern cars with all of their mind-numbing drives have made the Fiat 500 bring some colour back into life again. One has to deal with throttle lift-off at the precise moment the car decides to shift to make progress smoother, or altogether just drive in manual which is the preferred way, and then one gets very engaged.
Nothing much has changed in the car inside and out. There’s Apple CarPlay on the infotainment now and, well, that’s it.
But it’s still a cheerful and fun car to drive, which is rather remarkable. I think it is one of the most interesting cars to consider at its price point of $149,999. Time has been kind to the Fiat 500.
Still the cheerful Fiat 500 we know, now with a downsized engine.