Fiat 500 Lounge 124 1.2 litre

 

 

By Tim Saunders

 

There are three affordable iconic cars that are still being manufactured today.

The VW Beetle, which was first launched in 1938, the Mini, which came 21 years later and the Fiat 500, introduced two years earlier.

Like its siblings, the modern day Fiat 500 is an iconic little number that harks back to it ancestor, which went out of service in 1975. Launched in 2008 the second generation model pleasingly stays true to the original and there is an inviting retro feel throughout as you can see by watching the video at testdrives.biz. The speedometer is very similar as are the door handles. There is a successful marriage of classic design with modern technology that includes air conditioning, electric windows and wing mirrors together with a useful engine start/stop function. Sometimes traffic queues can be an irritatingly long crawl and cars fitted with start/stop end up using more fuel, in my experience, and so it is helpful to be able to turn this function off, if required. 

The original Fiat 500 was fitted with a tiddly little 479cc engine in the rear but today’s model has a more capable front mounted 1.2-litre returning 55mpg. The 35 litre fuel tank does mean more refuelling over long journeys. 

Without a doubt a city car, its diminutive size makes it simple to park in tight spaces and the five-speed gearbox is precise and enjoyable to use. On longer motorway journeys it does suffer from buffeting in strong winds and prefers the straight to hills, struggling in parts and requiring at least one gear change if not two. Overall though, it’s an enjoyable driver’s car with supportive and comfy chequered seats, which give a sporty feel. A stitched cream leather steering wheel and leather topped gearstick compliment the exterior finish of the test car. The panoramic glass roof with sunblind is a nice feature.

Parkers, the car experts, say: “This one unashamedly appeals to the emotions and is a modern interpretation of a classic small Fiat from the past. The 500 echoes the design of the rear-engined original, although is built to modern standards, and is very safe. Easy to drive and available with a host of customisation options, the little Fiat is a stylish small car with plenty of character.”

In the 500 Fiat has produced a very popular little car - UK sales hit the 100,000 mark earlier in 2012.

 

New price range: £9,960 - £16,810

 

Economy: 55mpg

0-60mph: 12.5secs

Top speed: 99mph

Power: 69bhp

 

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