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In-depth reviews

Fiat 500 Hybrid review: old-school charm from an old-school car

The older Fiat 500 is feeling its age, but it's still a charming runabout

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

Price
£15,719 to £18,275
  • Cute, retro styling
  • Fun to own
  • Efficient 1.0 engine
  • Basic entry spec
  • Expensive to buy
  • Poor reliability
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The latest, fully-electric 500 has been with us since 2021, but the older version is still on sale as the Fiat 500 Hybrid — which is actually a mild-hybrid. This means customers who aren’t quite ready to give up on fossil fuels still have a chance to indulge their fondness for the little Fiat’s retro city car charm.

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The funky styling and customisation options are as appealing as ever, while the 500 Hybrid’s powertrain is decently economical. The car's small size makes it easy to park, too. Unfortunately, though, the car falls short in other areas, being rather impractical and not much fun to drive. Along with its age, these are factors which make the older 500 increasingly difficult to recommend.

About the Fiat 500 Hybrid

The first modern Fiat 500 has had a long and successful run, which mirrors the success of the iconic original sold between 1957 and 1975. Launched in 2007 and facelifted in 2016, this 21st century interpretation of Fiat’s charismatic little car still cuts a dash as a fashionable metropolitan runabout.

It’s only modern up to a point, though, as the newer 500 is a big step up in terms of tech. Not only is it a lot more up-to-date inside, but it’s also fully-electric. However, for fashion-conscious city car buyers unmoved by the prospect of ‘plugging in’, the petrol-powered 500 Hybrid remains a likeable, albeit dated, choice. 

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The most recent Fiat 500 facelift took place back in 2016, and while this did introduce a new infotainment system and some exterior tweaks, other flaws such as flimsy build quality and lacking equipment levels were left unaddressed. 

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The 500 Hybrid comes with its fair share of customisation options, though, and the line-up is very easy to understand as Fiat has slimmed it down to only two trim levels: 500 and 500 TOP. There’s also the option of the standard hardtop or a ‘convertible’ 500C version, which offers what is more of a glorified sunroof.

Throughout its long life, there’s also been a plethora of special edition 500s that have come and gone. Some variants have been based on the Gucci and Diesel fashion brands, and one was created in association with Riva yachts, There were also many of Fiat's own specials such as the 500 S, 500 Pink, 500 60th, 500 Mirror, 500 120th and 500 Collezione 1957.

When it comes to competition, Fiat 500 buyers could once consider stylish rivals like the Vauxhall Adam and original DS 3, but both reached the end of their production lives way back in 2019. The shrinking city car market still has some respectable options, though, such as the Hyundai i10Kia Picanto and Toyota Aygo X. Of course, there’s also the newer Fiat 500.

The 500 Hybrid is powered by a three-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol engine with mild-hybrid technology. This keeps emissions as low as 104g/km, and claimed fuel economy exceeds 60mpg on the WLTP combined cycle. Unlike many of its rivals, the Fiat doesn’t have the choice of an automatic gearbox.

One significant advantage that the 500 Hybrid has over its younger all-electric sibling is a much lower purchase price. Starting from under £17,000, this undercuts the newer model by well over £10,000.

Frequency Asked Questions
The Fiat 500 Hybrid still has plenty of retro charm, and its low price certainly makes it appealing. However, the design is now well over a decade old, and there are some much more refined and practical city cars on today’s market.

For an alternative review of the Fiat 500, visit our sister site carbuyer.co.uk…

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Which Is Best

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Shane is responsible for looking after the day-to-day running of the Auto Express website and social media channels. Prior to joining Auto Express in 2021, he worked as a radio producer and presenter for outlets such as the BBC.

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