ON THE MONEY

Herald Sun - Motoring - - On the Web -

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)

885kg-1002kg Full-size

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