Fiat 500 2019 Review

Find out more about the Fiat 500 in the latest MOTORS Review

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Out of 5


  • Perfect for driving in the city
  • Over a decade after launch it still looks the part
  • Personalisation options are vast


  • Often found to be unreliable
  • Starting to show its age in some areas
  • Rather expensive relative to most city cars
Model Review

The 21st century revamp of the 500 has been supremely successful for Fiat, so much so that the car is widely credited for turning around the brand’s fortunes around due to its popularity.

The 500 followed on from Volkswagen’s new Beetle and BMW’s interpretation of the Mini as part of a continuing trend of retro small cars, and the Fiat – the smallest of the three – has become the most popular, while the Beetle has ceased to exist once more.

The first glimpse of a modern-day 500 came in 2004 at the Geneva Motor Show, where the Fiat Trepiuno concept was displayed. This car featured a ‘3+1’ seating layout that was ultimately scrapped by the time it reached production – as the 500 – in 2007.

Due to its funky looks, compact, city-friendly nature and an overall aim towards young drivers, the 500 became an extremely popular choice for young drivers and city commuters.

And, while there has never been a second-generation 500, styling updates and new trim levels have continued to keep it fresh over its dozen-year life.

Latest model

The Fiat 500 received a styling overhaul for 2016, including a redesigned grille and bumpers, new paint colours, plus new paint colours and trim levels.

It also received a selection of new, Euro6 emissions regulation-compliant engines, and a renewed marketing push.

The model is also available as a convertible, dubbed the 500C.

Value for money

The base price for the 500 is a rather pricey £12,165; comparative city cars such as the Volkswagen Up! are available for over £2,000 less.

This is thanks in part to the 500s status as something of a fashion accessory, which has helped it maintain its popularity despite in effect being a 12-year-old car.

On the used market, the 500 can be found from just under £2,000, though an alarming number of these are being sold as Cat D, Cat C or Cat N cars, which means that will have been written off by an insurer due to the prohibitive cost of repair, and then rebuilt again.

However, those that have not been subject to such issues look to be quite a smart buy, with low-spec cars that have covered less than 70,000 miles on the clock going for under £2k.

Examples with less than 40,000 miles can be found from around £3,000, though of course, these cars are all pre-facelift models.

Just under £5,000 will buy you base-model, post-facelift cars, which are once again impressively low on miles; a majority of them have well under 35,000 miles on the odometer. Meanwhile, cars of a higher spec than the base ‘Pop’ model start from around £6,300.

Nearly-new 2018 cars with less than 10,000 miles on the clock can be found for under £8,000.

Looks and image

There’s no denying that there is also some substance to the 500, and some things it does rather well, but the fact is that with this car, style is king.

Personalisation is a big factor with the 500, also which is why – despite there being many good value used options out there – the cute city car continues to be ordered en mass; plenty of its drivers simply love the ability to forge a style of their own, rather than hoping that they find something in a spec that suits them.

If you are looking at buying used, one blessing of the lack of generation shift to date is that cars from ten years ago look very similar to the current car, and will likely be indistinguishable to all but trained eyes.

Of course, as it is basically a decade old, many rivals have surpassed when it comes to standard kit and driving dynamics, including the Kia Picanto, the Volkswagen Up! and its sibling cars from Seat and Skoda.

While country roads are unlikely to be on the itinerary of a 500 driver on a regular basis, it is worth noting that the steering feel is very sub-par, and the body is very prone to lean. However, the extreme lightness is ideal for the city, and given that’s where most of the car’s time is spent, this seems like a reasonable compromise.

Video review

Space and practicality

Boot space on the 500 isn’t too bad given the car’s size, with a 185-litre capacity. However, the space isn’t all that accessible, with a high boot lip and an inconveniently small opening, which means wrestling with your suitcase, for example.

The rear seats can be folded down to create a 550-litre load bay, which is fairly good given the car’s rather minute dimensions.

Passenger room isn’t too bad, though there are only four seats and three doors, which means it isn’t the most practical option out there.

However, the car has clearly been designed to focus on the passenger space, which means that interior storage has suffered. The door bins are shallow, and there isn’t even a proper glovebox; certainly, if you want to pack a lot into your city car, some rivals do it better.


There are just two petrol units available for the 500, with diesel having been ditched from the line-up and Euro6 emissions standards having slimmed down the line-up.

The former diesel unit, a 1.3-litre motor, was highly economical, with a claimed 83.1mpg economy figure; even though that figure is unlikely in reality,  it was still far more frugal than its petrol counterparts.

Running costs

Surprisingly, the larger engine of the current petrol-only range acts as the base motor. The engine in question is a 68bhp, 1.2-litre, three-cylinder engine, which is capable of 51.4mpg, or slightly less in certain specs.

Meanwhile, the only other unit is a two-cylinder, turbocharged motor, dubbed the TwinAir. This engine is available with either 84 or 103bhp, and is officially rated at a slightly more economical 52.3mpg.

It is worth noting that, since the TwinAir relies on being further up the rev range more of the time, the three-cylinder engine is almost always more reliable in real-world conditions.

Depending on spec and engine, the insurance grouping for the 500 ranges between five and 15.

Things to look out for

Reliability reports from 500 owners are often less than complimentary, with many reporting repairs that were often very costly; this is key to consider if you are a younger motorist. Yes, the car is trendy and good-looking, but if you are taking in motorway miles to – for example – travel between home and university, it might be worth picking a more reliable rival such as the Volkswagen Up, Toyota Aygo or Kia Picanto.

Everything from gearbox issues to electrical faults have been reported on the 500, with a water pump leak often mentioned among the most common of issues.


We have mentioned several of the 500’s key rivals already in this piece, but it does bear repeating that some rivals such as the Kia Picanto, Toyota Aygo, Skoda Citigo, Seat Mii, Volkswagen Up! and Citroen C1 are all cheaper.

In addition, its fellow retro supermini, the BMW-built Mini is similar on price, but with better practicality.


Depreciation for the 500 is fairly intense, with the car capable of shedding over a third of its value in just a calendar year. As a result, it is certainly worth looking at nearly new models before you put money down for a fresh example.

Trims explained

Before we begin with the current spec range, it is worth noting that countless Fiat 500 special editions have emerged over the years, so don’t be surprised to see many variants littering the second-hand marketplace!


The base spec is Pop, which features 14-inch steel wheels, LED daytime running lights, heating, steering wheel mounted audio controls for the radio, which comes with a USB and aux port.

This basic trim is available from £12,165.

Pop Star

Upgrading to the Pop Star model improves upon this with 15-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, a height-adjustable steering wheel and wheel-mounted audio controls.

Prices start from £12,365.


The next trim up, Lounge, starts at £13,895. It receives a chrome styling kit, 15-inch alloy wheels, a technoleather steering wheel, rear parking sensors, cruise control, air conditioning and a 7-inch infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.

Starts at £13,895


Next up is the ‘Sport’ option, which receives trim-specific front and rear bumpers, a rear spoiler and other go-faster styling cues, including 15-inch satin graphite alloys.

Inside, the car gains a leather sports steering wheel and sports seats, at a price of £14,065.


Star is the next level up, starting at £15,395, and building upon the Lounge spec. It gains 16-inch alloy wheels, chrome bumper inserts, a fixed glass roof and fabric seats. It also gains a 7-inch instrument cluster in place of regular dials, and a 3D satellite navigation system.

Starting at £15,395


The top spec option is Rockstar, which builds upon the Sport spec. It also gains 16-inch wheels, instrument cluster and navigation system mentioned previously, as well as the same fabric seats.

This spec is available from £15,565.


  1. Post-2015 facelift cars offer improved cabins
  2. There’s a range of personalisation options
  3. Prices start at £11,490
  4. Decent used cars start at around £3,000
  5. Reliability is better than the Fiat reputation would suggest
  6. Basic models are relatively poorly equipped
  7. Only high-spec cars get touchscreens as standard
  8. The 0.9-litre engine is actually the most powerful
  9. There isn’t much room in the boot or rear seats
  10. Iconic design means residuals are good

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