Fiat 500 review - fashion victim or stylish mover? - Design

Retro charm offensive that’s inoffensive to drive

Evo rating
from £11,050
  • Retro charm, reasonably inexpensive, compact, did we say charming?
  • Too compact, a bit too charming, more fun to look at than actually drive


Iconic, and instantly recognisable, the 500’s a curious mix of retro charm and relative modernity in a compact, fit-for-purpose package. Nothing really touches it for cuteness, which is as off-putting for some as it is attractive for others.

It’s impossible not to admire what Fiat has achieved with it, though where it goes next with it is anyone’s guess. The most recent facelift is truly a blink-and-you'll-miss it affair, with only the tiniest alterations inside and out (for the record: new headlights and driving lights, new alloy wheel options, body-colour inserts in the tail lights, and new instruments and infotainment options inside).

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As Mini has discovered with its increasingly bloated offerings and indeed Fiat has illustrated with the ungainly 500L and 500X, there's only so much you can do to such a classic shape before it no longer bears any relation.

That said, we doubt Fiat's customers will have any problem with Fiat's decision to stick with what works - Fiat has sold well over a million since the car went on sale. Maybe we'll one day see the 500 morph into a utilitarian 126, before a retro throwback in the 2040s to the boxy 1990s Cinquecento...

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