Fiat 500 Hybrid review - Interior, design and technology

The 500 offers retro-styling in a small package, with a good level of standard kit

The Fiat 500 is a modern-day reboot of the original 500, which was launched in 1957 and captured the hearts and minds of the public.

The current version is much bigger than the original, but it's clearly a Fiat 500 with its charming curvy lines, upright stance and cute circular headlamps. The 500's dashboard is also painted the same colour as the exterior – a nice carry over from the original.

The new 500 was launched in 2007 and remained largely unchanged styling-wise until summer 2015 when Fiat tweaked the looks inside and out. At the front, the refreshed 500 got an extra chrome strip (reminiscent of the larger 500X crossover), and new larger elliptical daytime-running lights. To the rear, there are new ring-shaped light clusters with body-coloured centres, and nothing much has changed for the Mild Hybrid version.

In terms of spec, Pop versions get 15-inch alloy wheels, LED driving lights and a single colour paint job, while shifting up to the Connect gets you bi-colour paint with a glossy black roof, plus distinctive side skirts, a rear spoiler and front fog lamps. Dolcevita versions are also two-tone with a central pinstripe or ‘beauty line’, and feature chrome door handles and bumper highlights, plus a fixed panoramic sunroof. The Sport model also gets the sunroof, plus more aggressive rear spoiler, side skirts and wheels.

As usual with the 500 you can spec a wide choice of personalisation features. A selection of body wrappings, known as ‘second skin’, can be added to panels, the roof or even the entire car for a fee. Everything from chequers, to butterflies and even an army camouflage can be specified.

One existing problem with the 500 that hasn’t been improved particularly is material quality. Some interior plastics are pleasing to the eye and touch, but there’s also some rather nasty door finishes and flimsier trim further down the dash. Fit-and-finish isn’t amazing in some areas, either.

Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment

The entry-level Pop model receives only a DAB radio and USB connection. But step up to Connect trim and you’ll get a 7-inch touchscreen and Bluetooth, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.

All cars get a new 7-inch TFT display in the instrument binnacle which displays graphics representing the state of the hybrid powertrain systems.

The combination of buttons, dials and the touch interface means the system is easy enough to use and the optional sat-nav is clear, but the MINI’s set-up is a fair bit slicker thanks to addition of a rotary control by the handbrake.

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