ON THE MONEY
The $14,000 driveaway sticker on Fiat’s 500 Pop makes it the cheapest three-door hatch in the light car class
uses valve management to determine how much air to pump into the turbocharged twin, regardless of throttle opening. Fiat says this lowers fuel consumption and emissions by about 10 per cent, while giving 10 per cent more power and 15 per cent more torque compared to a conventional engine of the same size.
It isn’t as sporty to drive as the 1.4L but the claimed fuel use of 3.9L/100km more than makes up for it. That’s not surprising, given the car dates from 2007, but fit and finish generally are good.
The big interior issue is the lack of a glovebox. The 500 has a storage compartment under the passenger’s seat but it isn’t nearly as convenient as being able to keep the valuables out of sight in the glovebox. Seven airbags and a solid chassis earn the 500 five stars from the crash-testing authorities. ANCAP rated it at 34.91/37, noting there was a slight risk of serious chest and leg injury for both the driver and passenger’’ in the offset crash test. In the real world, the 500’s light weight and decent levels of grip make it an easy car to steer at car park or highway speeds. and Australian buyers can’t get that combination here. As it is, the DuoLogic slushbox does its best to subdue the TwinAir engine’s torquey nature by slurring upshifts and consistently using too high a gear. It might be good for fuel economy but it isn’t fun in fully automatic mode.
And the 500 is a fun car to drive. The lightweight steering still has good feel and having the wheels pushed out to the corners gives the little car surprising competence through the turns.
Suspension is firmer than Asian rivals but it rides respectably at city speeds and fits into gaps that will amaze other motorists. Fiat is on the money with the revamped 500 range. The price and specification are more than competitive and it’s enjoyable to drive. All it needs is an automatic with the ability to match the rest of the car.
From $14,000 drive-away 3 years/100,000km
No 12 months/15,000km
5 stars, 7 airbags 1.2-litre 4-cyl, 51kW/102Nm; 1.4-litre 4-cyl, 74kW/131Nm; 900cc 2-cyl, 63kW/145Nm 5-speed manual (1.2L), 6-speed manual (1.4L), 5-speed roboticised auto
5.1L/100km, 119g/km CO (1.2L); 6.1L, 140g (1.4L); 3.9L, 90g (900cc)
3.6m (L), 1.6m (W), 1.5m (H)