Fiat 500 0.9 TwinAir 105hp Lounge review
THE new Fiat 500. Believe it or not (as you’ll have to look closely to spot the differences!), after eight-years on sale, Fiat has updated its chic MINI-rivalling 500 hatch and convertible range.
We’re not sure it deserves the ‘new’ tag – why would you fiddle with a successful formula? – but in Fiat’s defence, they claim to have made 1,800 changes over the old car.
- Our new 500 was powered by the characterful 0.9 three-pot TwinAir engine, in more powerful 105bhp form. It’s a willing, refined and revvy engine, which works perfectly in town, but is equally happy if you head out of the city.
- Despite being fitted with the most powerful engine in the 500 range, the 105bhp version of the 0.9 TwinAir engine should prove cheap to run, with a 67.3mpg combined consumption figure and just 99g/km emissions, meaning the chic Fiat falls into tax band A and costs nothing in VED.
- Can this 500 make a sensible case as an SME Company car? Yes, with CO2 emissions of 99g/km, plus combined fuel consumption figure of 67.3mpg, this car falls into the 14% company car tax band for 2015/2016. Plus, this 500’s low P11D value equals a low company car tax figure of just over £30 a month.
- Of all the modern-retro cars on sale, we think the Fiat has stayed closest to the original. Buyers appear to agree and with sales growing year on year, the new 500 is more of a light face-lift than a new model. As such, outside you’ll spot the new 500 at the front by the revised headlights and reprofiled front airdam. The airdam features a new whisker-like badge, larger 500X-like daytime running lights in the shape of the 500’s O, plus more chrome detailing. On the range-topping Lounge like our test car, there’s also a distinctive 3D, button-like grille. Move to the back and the changes are limited to new rear light clusters with a colour coded centre, plus a redesigned bumper with a lower chrome section housing the reverse and foglights.
- Inside, the interior has received more of a refresh, rather than a totally new look. Gone is the CD/radio, to be replaced by the Uconnect infotainment system. Other changes include a new three-spoke steering wheel, a lid for the glove box and proper USB and Aux-in inputs – rather than the terrible old Microsoft system.
- Lounge models are reasonably well-equipped with air-conditioning and rear parking sensors as standard.
- Like the MINI, the 500 sells on its personalisation options. If you want to make this supermini truly stand out for your business, you’ll be pleased that the new car offers even more options to make this Fiat truly your own. These include two new sets of alloys in 15- and 16-inch sizes (also fitted to our test car!), two new colours and two different sorts of Second Skin options, which are a selection of graphics that run down the sides or can fully cover the top half of the car.
- There’s enough room for two six-foot adults in the front of the 500, although the standard fixed sunroof seriously eats into the front headroom. Rear space is tight too, although the boot is surprisingly practical and spacious considering it has just 185 litres.
- The baby Fiat feels well screwed together and we liked the retro feel to the interior trim.
- Our test car had the optional leather trimmed new seats that not only looked good but felt luxurious. They’re definitely more comfortable too.
- The 0.9 Twin Air engine is almost too keen when you hit the open road, its free revving nature meant we found the rev-limiter too often.
- The steering is better than we remember, but in every other aspect, the new 500 feels exactly the same to drive as the last. This means an unsettled low speed ride, that’s made worse by the Lounge’s standard fit new 16-inch alloys. There’s also a fair bit of body roll in corners.
- The five-speed manual is light but we feel it could be slicker and doesn’t like to be rushed.
- Yes, the 500 feels well screwed together. However, considering the range-topping Lounge 105bhp’s £14,420 price, the cheap, hard plastic finishes and sometimes inconsistent exterior paint finish – both carried over from the old model are a disappointment.
- There are many options for the 500 and they soon add up, making a costly car very expensive – tread carefully!
Verdict on the Fiat 500 0.9 TwinAir Lounge 105bhp
Fiat seems to have gone with the theory ‘that if it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it’, with the new 500 as the updates although significant, have had very little effect on how this smart supermini drives and as such it surely can’t be new.
Still, considering what a success the current 500 has been for Fiat, the fact there are such small changes are not a surprise, as they obviously wouldn’t want to scare away their core buyers.
Sadly, the lack of changes means that although charming, the new 500 suffers from the same faults as the last. This means an average drive and patchy build quality – which is disappointing as at £14,420, our range-topper isn’t cheap. For the same money you could buy the best-selling Fiesta three-door in Zetec trim, or the impressively made Volkswagen Polo, also in three-door form and in SE Design trim.
Flaws aside, business buyers are sure to be tempted to buy the new 500, but perhaps not this model but the promised greener version of the 1.2 four-cylinder promised with its 89g/km CO2 figure .
The Low Down for the Fiat 500 0.9 TwinAir Lounge 105bhp
|Doors and bodystyle:||Three-door hatch|
|Engine/Gearbox:||875cc 3-cylinder petrol turbo/Five-speed manual|
|0-62mph/top speed:||10 secs/117mph|
And what it costs…
|Monthly Business Charge:||From £209|
|Road Tax:||Band A|
|Company Car Tax bands 2015/2016 to 2016/17:||14%, 16%, 18%|
|Benefit in kind 2014/15 to 2016/17:||1,983, 2,266, 2,550|
|Annual/Monthly fuel benefit (20%):||619/51.58|
|Annual/Monthly fuel benefit (40%):||1,238/103.16|
|Annual/Monthly company car tax (20%):||397/33.08|
|Annual/Monthly company car tax (40%):||793/66.08|