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An Italian Kiss - that small decadent desert that devolves in your mouth exposing its rich chocolate and vanilla flavours. It’s icy demeanour cools and soothes the tongue as it melts - a divine little pleasure. Much like Fiat’s new 500.

 

The Fiat 500 is an iconic car, made famous for its tiny proportions; the Cinquecento (500 in English) was, and still is, the Italian’s answer to the VW Beetle and the MINI hatch - people's car, made for the city. The original 500 launched in 1957 and continued its sales success of almost 3.8 million units during its 18 years, until 1975. It was cheap and very cheerful. 

 

50 years later, Fiat launched the new 500 back in 2007. And now, nine years later, Fiat have launched the new, most modern version of the 500. 

 

The local range of 500’s is available in two variations - either the tin-top coupe or the convertible. There are three trim options: Pop, Pop Star and Lounge. Being the most modern 500 yet, the specification levels for a cost-conscious car are generous. The first, (Pop) includes seven airbags, a 5-inch touchscreen radio with six speakers, AUX-IN and USB ports, controls on the steering wheel and LED daytime running lights as standard equipment. The Popstar version adds an automatic climate-control system. The Lounge, the ultimate 500, features a panoramic glass sunroof, 15-inch alloy rims, chrome-plated front grille, the 5-inch radio but with a LIVE touchscreen infotainment system and a leather steering wheel with controls, allowing integration of a smartphone, constant connection and use of many apps on the onboard system.

Although the new 500 may look like the 2007 version, no less than 1900 innovations have been made to the new 500. The most notable, in my opinion, is the new 0.9-l turbocharged engine. Like the original, this zesty engine features just 2-cylinders. Locally, the new engine replaces the older 1.2 and 1.4-l 4-cylinder engines.

Dynamite comes in small packages, especially when combined with a turbocharger. The Pop and Pop Star models offer 65 kW of power while the Lounge, the flagship model, offers extra oomph with 77 kW. Darts from zero to 100km/h can potentially be either 11 or 10 seconds, depending on the model. The compact motor loves sipping on high-grade petroleum at a rate of about 5.0l per 100kms. Although, in my week with the 500, where I drove it enthusiastically, I achieved a figure of 7.8l per 100km’s.

 

The sewing machine sized engine is paired with either a five or six-speed (Lounge models) manual gearbox or a Dualogic robotised automatic gearbox. I’d stick to the manual option. Anything labelled robotised sounds weird; the manual gearbox is light and easy to use.

The other 1899 innovations have all been designed to enhance originality and make the 500 even more refined at the same time. New are the front headlights - with LED daytime running lights, the rear light clusters, the colour palette, the dashboard and the materials: the updates are substantial but in keeping with the brand that is unmistakably 500. Now highly customisable, the 500 can be ordered in 1/13 colours, a choice of 15 or 16-inch rims, and two striking black-yellow and black-red variants are also available in combination with 'Second Skin', an exclusive customisation offered by the New 500. With these decals, customers can pick the 'Small' version, featuring a geometric, trendy, ethnic pattern along the belt line. The 'Medium' solution, includes pillars and roof, and in some cases, also the bonnet and tailgate. There are four patterns: 'Lord' (classic tartan), 'Comics' (pop decoration) in combination with the new two-colour body paintwork, 'Navy' (fresh and breezy) and 'Camouflage' (fashionably military).

There are nine interior upholstery combination choices and even a trio of leather options: black, burgundy or tobacco.

The ride and handling of the new 500 are good. The suspension has been set to be cosseted over the tarmac, handling poor roads with aplomb. Because the 500 is little, it feels very nippy to manoeuvre while instilling confidence to accelerate. It isn’t a sports car, but it is fun to drive.

 

PLUS +

Cute.

Iconic.

Comfortable.

Nippy.

Modern.

Fun to drive.

 

MINUS – 

Tight cabin.

  

Competition 

VW UP!, KIA Picanto, Hyundai i10, Opel ADAM, MINI Hatch, AUDI A1, Smart fortwo and VW Beetle

 

Pricing

Coupe

0,9 TwinAir Pop R179 900

0,9 TwinAir Pop Auto R190 900

0,9 TwinAir Pop Star R199 900

0,9 TwinAir Pop Star Auto R210 900

0,9 TwinAir Lounge R227 900

0,9 TwinAir Lounge Auto R238 900

 

Cabriolet 

0,9 TwinAir Pop Star R234 900

0,9 TwinAir Pop Star Auto R245 900

0,9 TwinAir Lounge R262 900

0,9 TwinAir Lounge Auto R273 900

 

Service and warranty 

The Fiat 500 range comes standard with a 3-year/100 000km maintenance plan. 

 

My Choice

0,9 TwinAir Pop R179 900

www.fiat.co.za

 

 

 

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