Fiat 500 review - fashion victim or stylish mover? - Prices, specs and rivals
Retro charm offensive that’s inoffensive to drive
Three standard trim levels are offered; at least today that’s true, as Fiat changes the 500 range by adding special editions and suchlike as frequently as the Kardashians go shopping.
Currently, the core models stand at Pop, Pop Star, and Lounge. The former is apparently 'a car with casual style', the middle option a 'smash hit' and Lounge is 'elegant and chic at first sight'. There's a range of other trim levels available too: Cult, Vintage '57 (which does a good job of echoing the car's 1950s roots) and the designer-orientated Ron Arad Edition. It may be a modern-day 500, but in special edition terms it's more like a 1980s Rover Mini.
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Prices start at £11,050 for a Pop, though really you’ll need to spend a bit more if you want more than the very basics, as it does without air conditioning or alloy wheels.
Fiat has recently announced the availability of a new 500S model in the range, which is about as sporty as the 500 gets without opting for the full Abarth model. The S gets the same range of engines as any other 500, so it's not quite a dedicated warm-hatch version, but there's a sporty sub-Abarth bodykit, some unique alloy wheels and a sportier take on the retro interior. It starts at £12,950 for a 1.2-litre petrol but the one you'd want is the 104bhp TwinAir, which starts at £14,730.
Rivals were once an earnest bunch of dreary city cars, though since the 500’s launch there’s been a real explosion in small, fun cars. Volkswagen’s Up, the Renault Twingo and both those cars' close relations - the SEAT Mii and Skoda Citigo, and the Smart Fortwo and Forfour - not to mention offerings from Peugeot, Citroen, Toyota and a host of others, make the 500’s job a bit more difficult.
The Vauxhall Adam offers similar levels of personalisation, while the Mini and Volkswagen Beetle, although in a different price category altogether, could be considered alternatives if you’re sold on the retro vibe. Of all those, it's the Mini that offers the best driving experience.