Used Fiat 500 Review (2008-present) MK1

Independent review by Peter Hayward from Driving Force

4-minute read

Fiat 500 Exterior Front

Fiat 500 (2008-present)

With adorable styling, nippy handling, and affordable running costs, the Fiat 500 is a city car that oozes character

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  • Great fun to drive
  • Retro styling inside and out
  • Affordable to run
  • Not the most practical
  • Cramped in the rear
  • Entry level equipment is basic
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What's the Fiat 500 like?

Most people love the Fiat 500's retro styling, which helps it look great outside, and bright and funky inside.

It’s still one of the brightest and most individual city cars on the market, and is available in either 3-door hatch or 2-door convertible bodystyles.

The handling is very good and there's a wide range of engine options from the years since it was launched back in 2008.

Here we have Fiat going back to its roots with 2 and 4-cylinder engines in a tiny body that's really only a three-seater if we're talking about adults or big children.

But what it lacks in practicality, it more than makes up for in driving fun.


Since 2008 there have been three petrol engines, starting with a 0.9-litre TwinAir 2-cylinder turbo with 85 or 105bhp.

Even the 85bhp model can accelerate from 0 to 60mph in just over 10.0 seconds, and the 105bhp is a second quicker at just over 9.0 seconds. Government average economy for both is over 67mpg, making them very cheap to run.

Next comes the 4-cylinder 1.2-litre with 69bhp, which is the mainstay of the range, and above that is a 1.4-litre with 100bhp.

The 1.2-litre takes 12.5 seconds to get to 60mph and is capable of about 60mpg, while the 1.4-litre is much quicker at 10.2 seconds and will do about 50mpg.

There's also a 1.3-litre diesel engine with either 75 or 95bhp, and the lower powered model is capable of no less than 83mpg. The 95bhp is much quicker and is still capable of 67mpg.

Even in the base 1.2-litre, performance feels good because it’s so small and light, and the Twinair and the 1.4-litre are even better.

The TwinAir in particular has a very special sound and revs very easily and sweetly in the gears.

Driving Experience

All drive the front wheels through a slick changing 5-speed gearbox, the clutch is very light, and the brakes are excellent.

The ride is a little bouncy in the way of most small cars, but once above 40mph on the open road it smooths out most imperfections very well.

The handling is safe and sure and huge fun, with excellent grip and tenacious road holding in all models.
Peter Hayward

Very good power steering – with a city button to make it light as a feather for parking – adds to the enjoyment.

Obviously, because it’s so short and has a good turning circle, the 500 will slot into parking spaces that most other car owners have to drive by.


Equipment in Lounge spec is good, with four airbags, electric windows, remote locking, height adjustable driver’s seats and steering column, a good stereo with remote controls, alloy wheels, electric mirrors, and folding back seats.

Inside, there are body coloured touches around the cabin, a rev counter mounted inside the large speedo and white for the rest of the dash and steering wheel, which really make it feel special.

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It’s rare for a car with so much style and panache to be available for such affordable prices. With nippy handling and a range of economical engines to choose from, the Fiat 500 makes an excellent city car that’s more than capable of long journeys, too.