Prices, Specs and Rivals
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.
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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.
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.