IT is seven years since the iconic Fiat 500 was launched but like good wine the cute cult car has improved with age and the latest model is even better than ever especially the interior writes Bryan Longworth.
I clearly remember being very impressed on the Press launch for the 500 which has developed into a much sought after classic retro car based on the original 500 from the 1960s and a convertible followed which I have just been testing.
The 500 was recently improved with new colours upholsteries and wheels plus the introduction of an innovative seven inch TFT digital instrument system which is a segment first and in my opinion the most important feature about the latest 500.
For the system displays warning messages, fuel consumption, range, gear shift indicator and most importantly a very clear prominent digital speedometer replacing the original speedometer which was the worst feature about the original 500.
The original circular speedometer was extremely difficult to see especially in bright light conditions and there were occasions when it was impossible to see the speed of the car but that problem has been resolved with the very good digital speedo.
It was included on the 500C 1.2 Lounge I have just been testing although on this model it was a £250 option but well worth it because it made for much more relaxed driving in all light conditions even including bright autumnal sunshine with the soft top rolled back!
There are various engines for the 500 and the test car was powered by a 1.2-litre four cylinder 69hp petrol engine which had a top speed of 99mph and a zero to 62mph time of 12.9 seconds with a combined fuel consumption of 58.9mpg and CO2 emissions of 113g/km with the on the road price being £14,600.
The new front seats are very comfortable and the two large side doors provide very easy access although it is a bit tight accessing the rear seats via the folded front seats but this car will be mainly used as a two seater with a reasonable load area at the rear which is even larger than in a Mini Convertible.
This is a great fun car to drive with agile handling and very positive steering and considering it is so small this is not at all apparent for the driver and front passenger where there is a deceptively large amount of space.
The five speed manual transmission provided easy and positive changes which helped to make driving the latest 500 such an enjoyable experience although a sixth gear would have been appreciated for motorway driving and overall it is quite clear just why the 500 has become such a popular car.
My only grumble is that Fiat should have included the latest speedometer and information centre on all 500 models because it is such an important piece of kit and I was very surprised to see it was an option on the test car.
The 500 is also a cheap car to run and the latest upgrade has made it better than ever providing a new lease of life for this cute little Italian convertible.
Model: Fiat 500C 1.2 Lounge.
Engine: 1.2-litre four cylinder petrol.
Transmission: Five speed manual.
Top speed: 99mph.
Acceleration: 0 to 62mph 12.9 seconds.
Fuel consumption: 58.9mpg combined.
CO2 emissions: 113g/km.
Price: £14,600 on the road.