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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.

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.

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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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