Fiat’s best cars have always been its smallest models, and the original Fiat 500 was among its most inspired. And when it was revived in 2008, it was immediately clear that this neat supermini was destined for great things.
•Full Fiat 500 review
Sure enough, the 500 was European Car of the Year in 2008, and it’s gone on to become one of Fiat’s most popular models in years, with sales bolstered by the introduction of fresh variations on a regular basis. But how does it stack up as a used buy?
The first 500s arrived in January 2008, with 1.2 or 1.4-litre petrol engines, or a 1.3 turbodiesel. A year later the 1.2 Start&Stop arrived, with CO2 emissions cut from 119g/km to 113g/km. Soon after, the 135bhp 1.4 turbo Abarth hit showrooms, and by July 2009 the open-topped 500C was also available. In February 2010, the 1.3 diesel was refreshed to give 95bhp (a boost of 20bhp) and superior fuel economy thanks to Start&Stop tech. And in August 2010, the two-cylinder 875cc TwinAir arrived. A refresh in summer last year brought a host of new colours, a two-tone leather trim option and fresh alloy wheels – but no mechanical changes.
The MINI is the obvious alternative, as there are loads of examples and derivatives to choose between, from mild to wild. You can also choose from hatch or cabriolet bodystyles; both offer more interior space than the Fiat, but not by much.The Audi A1 is another premium supermini, with brilliant engines, more practicality and excellent build quality. It’s just not as much fun as the 500. France's take on the premium supermini, the Citroen DS3, is great fun, more practical and distinctively styled – and very strong value. If you want an almost new car, check out the Vauxhall Adam.
|Model||Insurance group||Economy||Emissions||Road tax|
|1.4 T-Jet Abarth||26-27||43mpg||155g/km||£175|
|1.4 Abarth 595||28||43mpg||151g/km||£175|
All 500s need maintenance every 18,000 miles or two years, although there’s the option of an annual service if the car covers less than 9,000 miles per year. Prices vary significantly; the first service is just £110, the second £200, the fourth £460 and the fifth £624. This latter figure includes a fresh cambelt, although the diesel and TwinAir engines are chain-driven. On its own, a cambelt replacement is around £255. The air-con needs regassing every three years, at £50 (a service without regassing is £30), fresh brake fluid is needed every two years at £48, while the coolant needs checking every service.