Fiat 500
(2008 - 2021)

  • Retro styling
  • Genuine character and charm
  • Excellent around town
  • Zippy and entertaining engines
  • Fiat build quality is very inconsistent
  • Dualogic transmission issues
  • Lacking in safety tech
  • More expensive than its rivals
Overview

The Fiat 500 has proven to be incredibly popular since its release in 2008, with its retro-inspired aesthetic wrapped in a modern package, the 500 answered the call for a funky yet still relatively practical city car.

In a trend pioneered by MINI, the 500 could be personalised to one’s content with two different body styles (a hatch and cabriolet) plus a multitude of bright paint colours, alloy wheels and trim highlights in addition to a range of different decals and accessories.

Initially available with 1.2 and 1.4-litre petrol engines as well as a 1.3-litre diesel, during 2009 Fiat added a 1.2-litre fitted with a fuel-saving stop-start system, along with a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol with 135bhp in the Abarth hot-hatchback version.

In 2010, a 0.9-litre TwinAir petrol engine was introduced, getting its name from the two-cylinder layout. Despite its small size, power was an adequate 70kW and an even more powerful version arrived in 2014. Also in 2010, the 1.3-litre Multijet diesel was given a power boost to 70kW.

The 500 is available with a manual or “automatic” transmission with the manual shifter action being relatively light and precise. Unfortunately this is a far cry from the less-than-satisfactory Dualogic “automatic” transmission which seems to be incapable of delivering either a smooth or engaging driving experience, regardless of which variant you choose.

While fundamentally available in three trim levels (Pop, Lounge and Sport), Fiat has added numerous special editions and collaboration models since the 500 launched. While we understand the appeal of a special or limited edition, it’s important to check exactly what kit comes with each version. For example, the recent 500 S added fairly substantial changes, including a bodykit and sporty interior add-ons.

The 500 received a mid-life facelift in 2015 with trim updates and new exterior styling, including redesigned headlights and bumpers. However, the update was very subtle and the 500 still looks similar to the original.

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What goes wrong
  • Thermostats known to fail
  • Dualogic automated manual transmission can suffer from major issues
  • Dualogic release bearing issues
  • Door handles are known to become loose and there are reports of the chrome finish cracking and flaking off
  • Reports of the washer jets failing to work properly
  • Body kits and exterior trim can become loose and fall off
  • Reports of badges falling off
  • Windscreen wipers known to judder and shake
  • Reports the panoramic roof can leak
  • Cost of exterior trim can become very expensive in relation to the cost of the car
  • Many reports that the plastic interior panels and trim can develop rattles and squeaks
  • The blower motor for the AC system, located under the dashboard, can fail and start to produce loud squealing noises. The replacement process can be labour intensive due to the dashboard needing to be removed for its replacement and this can be expensive
  • It should be noted that while the issues above are seen more regularly than others, Fiat 500s are renowned for a wide variety of problems and gremlins. There are the faultless examples out there, however many 500s will be harbouring an issue or five
Model range, pricing and features

Pop (2008 - 2020) Pop JTD (2008 - 2009)

  • Price when new: $14,000 - $26,990
  • Price used: $5,000 - $22,000

While the base model Pop may be the most affordable 500 available, and potentially makes for a great little city runabout, we’d highly recommend looking further up the food chain now that the used market has compressed the pricing difference between trim levels.

For not a whole lot more money, you can end up with substantially more features.

The petrol powered Fiat 500 Pop was initially powered by either a four-cylinder 1.2-litre or 1.4-litre engine coupled to a five-speed manual transmission or Fiat’s robotised manual transmission (basically a manual that shifts as an automatic), however, the 1.4-litre option was discontinued in 2012.

A diesel-engined variant was available from 2008 to 2009. We’d recommend against the diesel engine as it is beginning to exhibit typical diesel engine issues.

Standard 500 Pop and Pop JTD features:

  • 14-inch steel wheels
  • Chrome trimmings on the grille, door handles and boot
  • Leather steering wheel
  • Six-speaker MP3 audio system with steering wheel controls
  • Leather gear lever
  • Fabric seats
  • Height-adjustable driver’s seat
  • Auto-dimming rear view mirror
  • Electric windows
  • Electric folding side mirrors
  • Dualdrive electric power steering
  • Air-Conditioning
  • Trip computer
  • Remote central locking
  • Front and rear head rests
  • Height adjustable steering wheel
  • Split-fold rear seat
  • ABS brakes
  • Blue&Me system with Bluetooth and USB connectivity
  • Electronic stability control
  • Seven airbags
  • Anti Slip Regulation
  • Hill Holder
  • Hydraulic Brake Assistance
  • Five-star NCAP crash rating
  • Daytime running lights (from 2014)
  • Five-inch touch display (from 2016)
  • Uconnect infotainment platform with Bluetooth, aux and USB connectivity (from 2016)
  • 15-inch alloy wheels (from 2016)

TwinAir (2012 - 2013)

  • Price when new: $25,990 - $27,990
  • Price used: $8,000 - $15,000

The TwinAir offered a highly efficient 875cc 2-cyl petrol engine producing less power (74kW to 63kW), although more torque (131Nm to 145Nm) than the 1.4-litre model it replaced.

Features and equipment are near identical to the Pop.

TwinAir adds:

  • 16-inch alloys painted matte black

Sport (2008 - 2012) S (2013 - 2015)

  • Price when new: $24,990 - $29,990
  • Price used: $6,000 - $15,000

Initially named the Sport until 2012 and then rebadged the S, the midrange 500 is equipped with a 74kW/131Nm 1.4-litre engine and adds a decent amount of extra equipment.

While not the most heavily equipped 500 in terms of creature comforts, a Sport or S with a manual transmission makes for a very appealing package.

Sport and S adds:

  • 15-inch alloy wheels
  • Sport button for the 1.4-litre engine
  • Blue&Me Infotainment with USB connection
  • Rear spoiler
  • Side skirts
  • Red brake calipers
  • Update body kit (from 2014)
  • Dark chrome exterior trimming (from 2014)
  • Fog-lights (from 2014)
  • Tinted glass (from 2014)
  • Matt silver dash panel (from 2014)
  • Sports seats with red stitching (from 2014)
  • Flat-bottomed steering wheel with red stitching (from 2014)
  • 7.0-inch TFT instrument screen in front of the driver (from 2015)

Lounge (2008 - 2021) and Lounge JTD (2008)

  • Price when new: $18,950 - $30,990
  • Price used: $7,000 - $28,000

The Lounge with a manual transmission is our sweet spot of the 500 range.

When the extra asking price is only marginally higher than the lower spec models, we think it’s worth spending the money to gain some extra creature comforts.

However, unless you absolutely cannot bear the thought of changing gears yourself, we’d recommend avoiding the Dualogic.

It should be noted, the 2020 model range update saw the formerly mid-spec 500 Lounge replace the Pop to take on the entry-level duties.

Lounge adds:

  • 15-inch alloy wheels
  • Satin finish aluminium exterior mirrors
  • Chrome trim pack
  • Climate control air conditioning
  • Fixed glass sunroof
  • Front fog lights
  • Bluetooth communications package
  • 7.0-inch digital display (from 2014)
  • 15-inch multi-spoke alloys (from 2014)
  • Different interior trim (from 2014)
  • Engine stop-start (from 2014)
  • 7.0-inch TFT screen (from 2015)
  • Paddle shifters (from 2015)
  • Eco mode (from 2015)
  • Electrochromatic rear-view mirror (from 2015)
  • Satellite navigation (from 2016)
  • 7-inch instrument cluster display (from 2016)
  • Rear parking sensors (from 2016)
  • Premium seat trim with check design (from 2016)
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (from 2018)

By DIESEL (2011)

  • Price when new: $25,990 - $31,490
  • Price used: $8,000 - $12,000

Based on the standard Fiat 500, the ‘Fiat 500 by Diesel’ was a collaborative design by the Fiat Styling Centre and famous Italian fashion house, Diesel.

“By DIESEL” adds:

  • Green and indigo blue combination paint job
  • 16-inch Diesel alloy wheels
  • Unique side mouldings
  • Satin-finish mirrors, grille, and rear panel with retro air intakes
  • Diesel badging
  • Denim-style cloth upholstery including ‘jeans pockets’
  • Electric sunroof
  • Climate control
  • Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity
  • Blue&Me satellite navigation

Rock Star (2013)

  • Price when new: $18,800 - $20,300
  • Price used: $8,000 - $13,000

The Rock Star spec 500 is simply a TwinAir with some extra features.

Rock Star adds:

  • Driver knee airbag
  • Mobile phone connectivity 
  • Sports seats

By GUCCI (2013)

  • Price when new: $23,200 - $25,650
  • Price used: $22,000 - $30,000

Limited to just 500 units worldwide (101 for Australia) and based on the top spec Lounge, the Gucci was a collaborative design by the Fiat Styling Centre and famous Italian design house, Gucci.

Gucci adds:

  • Gucci pearl glass paint
  • Alloy wheel centre caps which carry the GG symbol, colour matched to the car’s paint
  • Green rear brake callipers
  • Gucci badging
  • Gucci coloured seats and seat belts
  • Velvet-effect treatment for the dashboard 
  • Six-speaker 100-watt Interscope sound system

Tricolore (2015)

  • Price when new: $20,300
  • Price used: $9,000 - $13,000

Based on the Lounge variant and powered by Fiat’s 0.9-litre 2-cyl turbo TwinAir engine and semi-automatic transmission, the Tricolore honours the red, white and green of the Italian flag.

Tricolore adds:

  • Red, white and green body stripe decals
  • Chrome exterior mirror caps
  • Red, white and green striped floor mats
  • Tricolore specific Italian-inspired key

Linea Rossa (2015)

  • Price when new: $20,200 - $24,200
  • Price used: $16,000 - $20,000

A pointless edition of the ‘S’ that arrived in some slightly different colours.

“Linea Rossa” means “Red Line”. So what…

Linea Rossa adds:

  • Race-inspired interior style including bucket seats (leather optional) 
  • Flat bottom steering wheel with red stitching
  • Linea Rossa exclusive exterior colours

60th Anniversary (2017)

  • Price when new: $28,990
  • Price used: Very hard to find

Released in a limited 60 units and available exclusively as a cabriolet , the 500 60th Anniversary celebrates the 60th birthday of the 1957 ‘Nuova’ Fiat 500.

60th Anniversary adds:

  • Special vinyl dashboard trim
  • Vintage logos and chrome bonnet accents
  • Dual-colour exterior paint – three-layer white for the body and pastel ivory for the bonnet and pillars – complete with burgundy ‘waistrail’ pinstriping and grey roof fabric.
  • Chrome mirror caps
  • Special 16-inch alloy wheels
  • ‘560’ logos
  • Numbered limited-edition nameplate
  • Ivory leather seats with contrasting burgundy piping
  • Matching ‘ivory’ dashboard insert and dual-colour floor mats

Spiaginna 58 Edition (2018)

  • Price when new: $25,990 - $27,490
  • Price used: Very hard to find

Only 30 examples of the cabriolet only special edition landed in Australia, built to celebrate the 1950s Fiat 500 Jolly Spiaggina.

Spiaginna 58 Edition adds:

  • Volare Blue
  • Beige roof
  • Polished vintage style wheels
  • Chrome brightwork 
  • Ivory highlights and piping on the seats
  • Branded floor mats
  • Extra 500 badging in the cabin

Anniversario (2017)

  • Price when new: $21,990 - $23,490Very hard to find
  • Price used: Very hard to find

Created to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Fiat 500 ‘Cinquecento’, the Anniversario adds even more retro styled design features to the already retro looking 500.

Anniversario adds:

  • Chrome bonnet bits and mirror caps
  • Vintage Fiat logos
  • 16-inch alloy rims with ’60s-style spokes
  • Two exclusive paint colours, Riviera Green and Sicilia Orange
  • New seat fabric with horizontal stripes in ’60s style with piping
  • Embroidered 500 logo

Collezione Spring Edition (2018)

  • Price when new: $21,990 - $27,490
  • Price used: $20,000 - $23,000

Based on the Lounge specification, with both hatchback and cabriolet versions available, the Collezione Spring Edition was limited to just 70 examples in Australia.

Collezione Spring Edition adds:

  • Two-tone Bianco Gelato and Lunare Grey exterior finish
  • 16-inch alloy wheels
  • Chrome trim for the front grille line, mirror caps and bumper inserts
  • ‘Collezione’ badge on the tailgate
  • White body colour dash insert
  • Striped seat trim with grey accents and ivory piping
  • ‘Collezione’ floor mats
  • Ivory ‘500’ logos embroidered into the seats

Collezione Fall/Winter Edition (2019)

  • Price when new: $21,990 - $27,490
  • Price used: $20,000 - $23,000

Based on the Lounge specification, with both hatchback and cabriolet versions available, the Collezione Fall/Winter Edition was limited to just 70 examples in Australia.

Collezione Fall/Winter Edition adds:

  • Two-tone Bordeaux and Grey Solid exterior paint
  • Copper pinstriping
  • 16-inch alloy wheels with copper finish
  • Front fog-lights
  • Chrome bonnet line and bumper inserts
  • Body-coloured mirrors
  • Grey body-coloured dashboard with copper accent
  • ‘500’ logo and piping on the seats
  • Floor mats embroidered with ‘Collezione’ in Bordeaux

Club (2019 - 2020)

  • Price when new: $23,250 - $27,250
  • Price used: $22,000 - $30,000

The Club variant replaced the Lounge as the top tier 500 from its introduction in 2019.

The auto-only Fiat 500 and 500C Club versions are powered by the same 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol engine as the Lounge but bring with them extra features for the 2020 year model cars.

Club adds:

  • Sunroof for the hatch
  • Digital radio
  • Climate control air-conditioning
  • Premium chequer-pattern seat upholstery
  • Chrome exterior trim
  • Automatic headlights
  • Rain-sensing wipers
  • Larger 16-inch rims
  • Black fabric seats white inserts and Bordeaux stitching (or white fabric seats with black inserts and white stitching)
  • Leather upholstery can also be optioned

Dolcevita (2021)

  • Price when new: $24,450 - $30,750
  • Price used: $23,000 - $32,000

Based on the existing 500 and 500C Club and initially available as a limited-edition, the ‘Dolcevita’ version joined the Fiat 500 range as a permanent addition from 2021.

Dolcevita adds:

  • White-and-blue striped soft-top roof
  • 16-inch white alloy wheels
  • ‘Gelato white’ exterior paint
  • Rear ‘Dolcevita’ badge
  • Wooden dashboard
  • Ivory leather seats with red piping
  • Embroidered ‘500’ logo
  • ‘Dolcevita’ floor mats
Should you buy it

While a Toyota Yaris or Mazda 2 may be a far more sensible decision than buying a Fiat 500, the likes of Toyota and Mazda seem to fail at injecting the 500’s levels of life and charisma into their budget-friendly city cars. If you require a super fun little city car that exudes Fiat 500-levels of style and character, a 500 may be your only choice.

While the Fiat 500 is far from perfect with reports of catastrophic mechanical failures, bodywork and interior trim falling apart and owners that feel betrayed by how terrible their 500 has been, there are examples that have a faultless history, exhibit zero issues and have been owned by people that have adored their little Italian runabout.

Should you buy a Fiat 500? Well… yes, but it comes with a few conditions.

Only buy a Fiat 500 if you absolutely need a 500 in your life, only if you can find one in perfect condition with a faultless service history and have it thoroughly inspected by a licensed mechanic. Also, make sure you have some money put aside for when things go wrong.

Yes there are more sensible cars to buy than a Fiat 500 but if you’re genuinely considering buying a 500, chances are even the concept of sensible bores you. But please be cautious when it comes to the 500 because it appears that no two 500s are the same.

Warranty & servicing

Warranty:

3 years / 150,000km

Servicing:

12 months / 15,000km

Tech specs

Body style:

  • 3-door hatch
  • 3-door cabriolet

Engine & outputs:

  • 1.2-litre, 4-cyl, petrol engine (Pop, Lounge, Anniversario, Collezione, Club, Dolcevita)
  • 1.4-litre, 4-cyl, petrol engine (Pop, Sport, S, Lounge, By DIESEL, Gucci, Linea Rossa)
  • 0.9-litre, TwinAir 2-cyl, turbo engine (TwinAir, Rock Star, Lounge, Tricolore)
  • 1.3-litre, turbo-diesel, four-cylinder engine (Lounge and Pop JTD 2008-2009)

Power:

  • 51kW (1.2-litre)
  • 74kW (1.4-litre)
  • 63kW (0.9-litre)
  • 55kW (1.3-litre diesel)

Torque:

  • 102Nm (1.2-litre)
  • 131Nm (1.4-litre)
  • 145Nm (0.9-litre)
  • 145Nm (1.3-litre diesel)

Transmissions:

  • 5-speed manual
  • 5-speed Dualogic automated manual

Fuel use:

  • 3.9 – 6.1-litres/100kms (combined and depending on variant)

Dimensions:

  • Height: 1488mm
  • Length: 3546mm – 3571mm (depending on variant)
  • Width: 1627mm
  • Kerb weight: 885kg – 1010kg (depending on variant)
Disclaimer

Information correct as of August 27, 2021.

The advice provided on this website is general advice only. It has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on this advice, you should consider the appropriateness of the advice, having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs.

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