City Car of the Year 2021: Fiat 500

The Fiat 500 is the 2021 Auto Express City Car of the Year, with the Hyundai i10 and Volkswagen up! commended

Small really is beautiful when it comes to the winner of our city car crown. Cheeky looks, compact dimensions, an upmarket interior and advanced infotainment all play a part in the little Latin machine’s success, but it’s the smooth and efficient electric powertrain that helps lift the 500 above its competition in the city car class, which is increasingly turning towards full electrification.

Like its predecessor, the new Fiat 500 Electric looks the part, its cute and curvaceous lines paying tribute to the iconic fifties original, while inside the design and finish have taken a massive leap forward. Top-notch materials and a slick infotainment set-up that includes the option of a large 10.25-inch touchscreen help deliver real premium appeal, while even entry-level models come loaded with standard kit.

However, at the heart of the car’s appeal are its all-new electrified underpinnings, with both the 91bhp and 116bhp options delivering smooth and instant acceleration that gives this compact city car impressive performance for such a small vehicle.

In combination with the simple single-speed automatic transmission, light steering and those pert proportions, it makes the 500 perfect for the cut-and-thrust of the urban jungle. Yet the refined and comfortable Fiat will happily go further afield, especially with the larger 42kWh battery, which increases the range from 115 to 199 miles. Better still, rapid-charging capability of up to 85kW means the battery can be topped up to 80 per cent in as little as 30 minutes.

The icing on the cake is the fact that, despite its upmarket image and cutting-edge tech, the new 500 hasn’t forgotten its value-for-money roots. Not only will it cost peanuts to run, it’s also surprisingly affordable to buy, with prices starting from just £20,495, including the Government’s £2,500 Plug-in Car Grant.

Best deal

Fiat 500 Electric Icon (£25,495 incl. Govt. Grant)

The entry-level version of the all-electric 500 is incredibly tempting value, but it misses out on the flexibility of the larger battery, and some key equipment. With Fiat currently offering a £1,000 discount across the entire range, we’d go for Icon trim; a three-year PCP agreement with a £3,000 deposit translates to £295 per month.

Commended

Hyundai i10

Hyundai i10

Spacious, well equipped and backed by a reassuring five-year warranty, the i10 makes a thoroughly sensible small car choice. It’s also powered by a range of smooth and frugal petrol engines. Yet there’s more to the Hyundai than that, because it also looks good, is dripping with useful technology, and is as composed and capable on the road as many larger and much more expensive models.

Volkswagen up!

Volkswagen up!

All good things must come to an end, and after winning the gold medal in this class for four years, the VW up! has finally been removed from the top step of the podium. It’s still a brilliant city car, however, with a surprisingly spacious interior and grown-up driving dynamics, plus there’s a choice of perky petrol engines, as well as an all-electric version, the e-up!, which almost matches the 500 for range.

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