- We like...Style, cleverness, value
- We don't...Patchy ride
Super-cute city baby now comes with a fully-opening roof - if you want it. But is it worth £3000 extra over a tin-top?We love the 500. It’s so cute – and so much fun to drive – that we’d dare you to dislike it. And now you can choose it with a full length fabric roof to let the sun in. That’s terrific, adding sass to a car that’s already bursting with it.What’s less than terrific is that Fiat’ll charge you £3000 more than you’d pay for a standard, metal-roofed 500. So, for the cheapest, £8300 plays £11,300. The big question is whether that big jump is worth it.
Having spent a sunny morning with the car, we’ve got to say that it is. That roof’s a beaut and adds much to the car’s appeal. While not a full-on cabrio – the roof edges and the rear screen pillars remain so that side-on, steel and cloth-roofed 500s look alike – there’s no shortage of blow. The cloth roof is nicely made and looks good, inside and out, open or closed.
It whirrs to and fro as you thumb its control buttons which are mounted high, next to the rear-view mirror. You can open it part-way (so it acts as a sunroof), back to the rear window, or all the way to the boot lid. And you can juggle it between these on the go, so long as you’re not travelling above 37mph.
At city speeds the cabin stays calm and serene. Push above 50mph on an open road and the wind judder with the top part-extended becomes a distraction – but fully open, the noise lessens and it becomes good fun once more, although in this position the roof also partly blocks your view out back.
Happily, though, the car’s pert dimensions and usefully sized door mirrors help overcome this, as do (if you go for the top-level Lounge) rear parking beepers.
Crank it closed and the car is composed as other 500s – which is ‘very’ for such a baby car. Otherwise, it’s as other 500s – so you get four seats, people space that’s good up front but tight in the back and a cabin that, even on the cheapest ‘Pop’ models, looks expensively-wrought and nicely retro in look and feel.
Kit-wise, though it’s of the moment, packing seven airbags as standard, plus full electrics including remote central locking and air conditioning. Step up to the Lounge models and you’ll also find climate controlled air conditioning, parking sensor, stability control and alloy wheels. All also have Fiat’s Dual-Drive electric s power steering, which allows the driver to increase the assistance at the press of a button for, say, parking.
The boot is near as big on cloth-topped 500s as it is on the others although, of course, you lose the handiness of a hatchback. That said, the rear seats still fold and the boot is hinged to open wide. What’s more, if the roof is down it moves itself up a little and out of the way as you pop the boot catch. It’s clever and, although expensive, you do feel that there’s value. And, in fairness, soft-topped 500s are better equipped as standard than their tin-topped cousins – Pops get air conditioning, for instance.
You pick from 10 paint colours, three roof colours and enough extras to have your head spinning.
The car drives tidily and responds well to its direct steering. It’s tricky to make cars this small ride well and, although Fiat’s evidently tried hard with it, for us the ride rarely settled, pattering and thumping over lumpy city road surfaces.
We drove the 1.2 petrol and 1.3 diesel models (there’s a 1.4 petrol, too). Of these, the 1.2 is sweet and gives what it has willingly. It’s fun. The 1.3 is darned smooth for a diesel-powered small car and quiet with it. It’s narrow-run but we prefer the little petrol unit for its low price, economy and fun.
In fact, looking across the range, we find it hard to look beyond the cheapest model, the 1.2 Pop. It capture the 500’s character but keeps the price sensible.
To read the motors.co.uk review of the Fiat 500, click here
To view and buy new and used Fiat 500s, click on motors.co.uk
- Engines1.2, 1.4 petrol; 1.3 diesel
- 0-60 mph12.9secs-10.5secs
- Insurance groups
Motors.co.uk value verdict: