The Fiat 500: Economy with class

With more than three million units sold, the Fiat 500 vehicle, first released in 2007 as a homage to the mythic Cinquecento (500 in Italian) for its 50th anniversary, has become an icon of the automotive industry. It’s a stylish solution for anyone looking for an economical drive.

Fiat replicated the strategy that BMW used to bring the Mini Cooper back to life by designing the 500 as a retro car and succeeded, giving birth to a vehicle that became a global trend and symbol of the hippie-chic movement. The redesign was far from the austere post-WWII original car; it was more refined and technological, and even though the brand introduced a full range of models and prices, it was never regarded as an entry-level car. 

In 2016 the Fiat 500 received an upgrade. The restyling of the Fiat 500 included some upgrades to the interior, such as a redesigned instrument cluster and an infotainment system that thoroughly modernised the interior. The exterior didn’t suffer significant changes, but the front became more sophisticated, preserving the essence of the original design. The taillights were refined, and some models received new sporty 15” wheels.

Interestingly, as part of the changes, Fiat gradually replaced all the engines with the modern 2-cylinder 0.9-litre TwinAir petrol engine. This extremely efficient power plant produces 63kW of power and 145Nm of torque with a combined fuel consumption of only 4l/100km. This small engine is 12kW more powerful than its predecessor and more fuel-efficient; a wonderful mechanical marvel.

The Fiat 500 is available in four trims: Cult, Club, Dolce Vita, and Dolce Vita Cabriolet. All versions bring seven airbags as standard equipment and plenty of accessories. Mechanically, all models get the same engine with start/stop and a 5-speed manual transmission. Regarding security, all bring seven airbags, which is excellent news.

The base version, the Cult, is equipped with a 5” display and radio, four speakers, and 14” steel wheels. From the Club trim, all models feature a 7” infotainment system with 6 speakers, cruise control, and smartphone mirroring. The Club version features a beautiful set of 15” light alloy wheels, and the Dolce Vita and the cabriolet have 16” alloys. Besides the 7” screen, bigger wheels, and details like the upholstery, the equipment level is about the same in the two upper versions. The most significant differences are that the Dolce Vita has a glass roof, and the so-called cabriolet features a soft top that slides down, but it neither works nor looks like a real convertible when the roof is down.

In the same price tier, the Peugeot 208 1.2 Active and the new Renault Kwid 1.0 could be feasible alternatives to the Fiat 500 0.9l. 

The Fiat 500 Cult starts from R271,900, while the range topping Dolce Vita Cab starts from R379,900. (Prices correct at time of publication.) Considering the price of competitors in this market, these are great choices for those seeking an affordable vehicle with the latest technology and impressive fuel economy.

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