Fiat 500 review - fashion victim or stylish mover? - Ride and handling

Retro charm offensive that’s inoffensive to drive

Evo rating
Price
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

Ride and handling

Cute looks, a smart, retro cabin and some gorgeous detailing might hoodwink you into thinking that the 500’s going to be a scream behind the wheel, too, but it’s not.

It’s fine in its intended environment, where its light steering, soft suspension, upright seating position and easy gear change make it a biddable city car, but escape the confines of town and the 500 quickly gets out of its depth. The suspension that makes a decent fist of absorbing the worst city streets can deliver gets a bit busy and out of shape when the speed rises and you ask a bit more from it.

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There’s plenty of body roll and with steering that’s utterly devoid of any sort of feel - even more so if you’ve chosen the finger-twirling lightness of the City Mode - the 500 reveals its limitations. Where you’ll be excited at the prospect of taking a Mini for a lengthy weekend journey out of town, you’ll be far less inclined to do so in the 500.

Grip levels are actually quite high, if you’re brave enough to push the 500 further than you feel you should, but chances are you won’t. The 500’s a car that’s a bit one-dimensional compared to many of its rivals - in standard form at least, as the Abarth models bring some real entertainment to the city car class.  

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