Road Tests

Handbook: Fiat 500C

Time 12:30 am, November 4, 2011

f_5243One of the most important engines has been fitted into one of the most fashionable cars. JAMES BATCHELOR investigates.

WHAT IS IT?

Fiat is giving us another dose of nostalgia by slotting a two-cylinder engine into the 500 and 500C, just like the original 13bhp car of 1957. However, it’s not all show and no go – the two-pot features MultiAir electro-hydraulic valve technology meaning it’s the ‘cleanest quantity production petrol engine in the world’. A fifth of 500 sales are expected to be TwinAirs.


screen-shot-2011-11-03-at-153814WHAT’S UNDER THE BONNET?

Amazingly, the 875cc lump delivers 23 per cent more power, and 15 per cent less emissions and fuel consumption than its 1.2-litre brother. It weighs 85kg, emits 95g/km of CO2, and thanks to Stop&Start returns 68.9mpg – 70.6 for the robotised manual version – and can get to 60mph in 10.7secs. An Eco button drops torque by 45Nm further improving mpg and making the steering lighter too.

WHAT’S THE SPEC LIKE?


Prices start at £10,865 for the tin- top 500 Pop model which comes with electric door mirrors, MP3 connectivity and steel wheels, and rise to £12,065 for the Lounge and £13,715 for the byDIESEL special edition. 500C models come at a three- grand premium. The clever Blue&Me hands-free system is a £265 option. As with all 500s, price is dependent on customers’ customisation yearnings.

WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE?

Fun. It takes a little getting used to as the engine is at the rev limiter before you know it. Climb through the revs and the two-pot sings, crying out for you to change gear, but at full chat it positively thrums along. Light steering makes for imprecise cornering, but a smooth ’box and a stiff chassis make the car smile-inducing. The rag-top is delightfully retro but the £3k premium is hard to stomach.

WHAT DO THE PRESS THINK OF IT?

Unusually, most journalists are in agreement about the 500 TwinAir. iCar Magazine said: ‘TwinAir power has cemented the 500’s position as the world’s most wantable hatch.’ AutoCar said: ‘For potential customers it’s a great ownership proposition, and a lot of simple fun.’ Auto Express remarked: ‘You’re looking at a very appealing city car.’

WHAT DO WE THINK OF IT?

The TwinAir is probably the engine the new 500 should always have had. That said, while it’s charming, it’s let down by the claimed 68.9mpg which doesn’t really match real- world driving, and the convertible is unnecessarily expensive. But there’s no doubt this car makes you smile, and for that reason you can’t complain about it for long.

screen-shot-2011-11-03-at-153729

James Batchelor's avatar

James – or Batch as he’s known – started at Car Dealer in 2010, first as the work experience boy, eventually becoming editor in 2013. He worked for Auto Express as editor-at-large and was the face of Carbuyer’s YouTube reviews. In 2020, he went freelance and now writes for a number of national titles and contributes regularly to Car Dealer. In October 2021 he became Car Dealer's associate editor.



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