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Car reviews - Fiat - 500 - Lounge 1.4 3-dr hatch

Overview

The new 500 is a cleverly modern interpretation of Fiat's original, with some flaws

Fiat logo19 Sep 2008

By GEORGIA OCONNELL

EUROPEAN car of the year winners don’t come more evocative than the Nuova Cinquecento. Visually, Fiat’s reborn 500 is stunningly faithful to the original, which is an amazing feat in itself considering how much larger, safer and more accommodating the modern version had to be. Plus, while the Fiat feels more akin to the BMW Mini than the VW New Beetle for quality and detail, the Italians have priced the base models considerably below either of these, thus allowing more people access to such a charming little car. But, as the top-of-the-line Lounge 1.4 reveals, it isn’t all Marcello Mastroianni and gelati on a hot summer’s night by the Trevi Fountain, with a few significant flaws undermining what is still unquestionably a worthy addition to our roads.
Model release date: 1 February 2008 to 1 May 2013

Previous model

FSM Niki

Released: 1989
Ended: 1990
Family Tree: 500

DON’T laugh. This car is the direct successor to the original Nuovo 500, direct predecessor of the 1991 Fiat Cinquecento and 1996 Seicento, and the beginning of Fiat’s relationship with the FSM car company, which brought the 1972 Fiat 126 (basically a reclothed Nuovo 500) to Communist-era Poland. With its rear-mounted 652cc two-cylinder engine, rear-wheel drive, four-speed manual gearbox and four seats, the Niki was s-l-o-w, noisy, and quite scary in the wet – with a tendency to snap oversteer like an inebriated early Beetle. Obviously, Australians laughed when some enterprising '80s executives decided we needed this hopelessly outdated economy car, at a time when all we were interested in were big V8-powered VN Commodores. Unbelievably, FSM continued to make the 126 until 2000.

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