Tiny Fiat 500 makes a giant statement
The Fiat 500 has been doing its thing in Europe since 1957 and while it may not be quite the same star in Australia, that could change after the company launched a new local range of the iconic Italian light car.
The star of the team is the new entry-level Pop variant which hits showrooms with the ultra- competitive price tag of $14,000 drive away. That puts it right among its light-car competitors but there is still a heap of features in the Pop despite its low cost.
It has Bluetooth, USB connectivity, electric power steering, a trip computer, plenty of airbags and adjustable steering modes.
It has a spritely 51kW 1.2-litre petrol engine which does expectedly well in urban situations with a combined fuel use of 5.1L/100km, but also wastes little time getting up to speed on freeways.
It’s mated to a good five-speed manual gearbox, with a dualogic automatic transmission (like a DSG but with a single clutch) also available for an extra $1500.
What the 500 has over its competitors though is its sense of fun and Italian style. It’s like an extension of a Vespa scooter: quirky, cute and decidedly European, enough so that it could be defined as a “statement car” but one people can afford.
There is plenty of room to stamp your own personality on the car also, with a range of colours to choose from to adorn the 500’s exterior and interior.
There are nifty space-saving tricks — vital in a car this small — such as folding rear seats, having the electric window controls in the centre instead of on the armrests and having storage under the passenger seat.
Its parabola-shaped body means there is good headroom in the front; rear passengers have more of a tight fit head-wise but have more legroom than you’d expect.
The interior as a whole is great, with plenty of circular instrumentation and air vents — even the headrests are circular.
However, despite the smile it puts on your dial when driving, the 500’s main issue is comfort, at least for those of us over 180cm tall. Those controls in the centre mean the console is just a tad too wide, forcing your left leg to be pushed in a bit too far and meaning your foot has to go sideways to sit on the foot rest.
But the biggest problem is the steering wheel. It’s bigger than it needs to be, but the problem is its reach isn’t adjustable. Tall people can fit their legs in easily, but are left with their arms nearly completely straight when holding the wheel at “10 and 2 o’clock”.
It’s a shame because aside from its ergonomic issues, the 500 Pop is a great drive which will appeal to a wide spectrum of buyers, particularly at this price.
Those looking for a bit more kick can grab a 1.4-litre, 74kW engine in the Sport model, while those looking to really quirk it up can get the 0.9-litre two-cylinder Twin Air which sounds as unique as the 500 looks. There is also a limited-edition Gucci range.
1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol
1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol
500 BY GUCCI
500 BY GUCCI
PHOTO: Fiat 500 pop fiat.com.au
© The West Australian
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