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BETTER BY DESIGN (some text hidden)
By Andy Enright
Introductionword count: 121
The millionth new era Fiat 500 rolled from its Polish production line in 2012, marking a milestone in the story of this phenomenally popular boutique citycar. When it was first launched, there were some who raved about the styling, while others grumbled that it was a bit unimaginative of Fiat to merely rehash old designs. Judging by the subsequent sales, we think the grumblers lost that argument quite convincingly. If you're looking at buying a used version, you'd ideally want to be looking at variants produced after the first 2011 model year update, which saw the addition of clever TwinAir petrol engine technology to the range. Here's what to look for when diving into the vast pool of used 500s around.
Modelsword count: 14
3dr citycar (0.9, 1.2, 1.4 petrol 1.3 diesel [Pop, Lounge, Street, GQ, 500byGucci, Abarth])
Historyword count: 273
Fiat's little 500 citycar was introduced back in 2007, but in the years since, Fiat has rarely stopped trying to develop it. Following the model's original introduction, buyers were treated to the option of an open-topped 500C bodystyle, frantic Abarth-branded hot hatch versions, a stop start system to make the four cylinder petrol and diesel variants more frugal and subtle tweaks that improved the ride and handling. The key changes though, were reserved for the 2011 model year. This was when the 0.9-litre turbo TwinAir petrol model was introduced. With just two cylinders beneath the bonnet, here was technology that represented a first in this segment. It looked super-cute, put out a perky 85bhp and would sprint to sixty in just 11 seconds. It was a clever product. The TwinAir variants slotted into a range continuing to offer conventional four cylinder options - a base 1.2, plus normally aspirated and turbocharged 1.4-litre variants. And there was the usual choice of bodystyles, the hardtop and the fabric-roofed 500C. This era of 500 production lasted until mid-2014 when Fiat once again updated the range. In the intervening period, the brand aimed to keep buyers interested with an almost steady drip-drip of special edition models. The rather delicious 500byGucci model appeared in summer 2011, with GQ Editions arriving in 2013. In July 2012, six new colours were introduced to the line-up: Countrypolitan Yellow and New Age Cream solid paints, plus Groove Metal Grey, Epic Blue, Chillout Purple and Idol Pink metallics. New Chocolate brown/Ivory fabric and Grey/Black fabric interior trims were also introduced for the interior, with two-tone leather trims available at the end of 2012.
What You Getword count: 452
At 1.65m wide, 1.49m high and 3.55m long, this Fiat can fit into spaces that even a MINI would have to avoid. Every 500 model invites a high degree of personalisation via a myriad of colour and trim permutation options, but whatever you choose is sure to dovetail deliciously with the very well-judged blend of retro chic and clean contemporary design inside. Delicious details are everywhere, your eyes falling first on the Panda-sourced dashboard with iconic 500 badging that can be specified in the same colour as the body, before taking in touches like the chrome-ringed vents and the circular head restraints. The steering wheel, adjustable for height but not reach, can feel a little large on first acquaintance and there's a lot to take in from the single circular instrument dial in front of you with read-outs for speed, revs and fuel usage running along similar planes. Once you adjust though, it all works well, with only the seat height adjuster, positioned just where the handbrake should be, offering any kind of lasting annoyance. The car's been well screwed together though in its Polish factory and in-cabin stowage is also well up to par for a citycar. You'll find a usefully deep shelf ahead of the passenger, a small pop-out cubby on the driver's side of the centre console and the usual door bins and cupholders. Even the passenger seat cushion tips forward to reveal an oddments compartment. In the back, larger adults will find their heads brushing the roof and making full use of the elbow cut-outs indented into the side panels but most will find the space provided just about sufficient for two people on short to medium journeys. And the boot's bigger than you might expect, its 185-litres just about sufficient for the weekly shop, provided that your brood isn't the size of the von Trapp family. If it is, you might have to leave them at home and fold forward a rear seat that, on base models, doesn't split-fold. You still get the same 550-litres of all-up space though. Most laudably, Fiat haven't skimped on the airbag tally. In a class where rivals routinely force you to pay extra for side or curtain airbags, this car comes with seven airbags even in its cheapest guise. Anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution are there to help you avoid the need to use them. Once especially nice option many new buyers chose is Fiat's clever Blue&Me infotainment system, which features wheel-mounted and voice-activated control for the stereo, as well as features that can monitor your driving style and suggest improvements for peak efficiency. A Blue&Me Tom Tom touchscreen system integrates navigation and phone functions in a neat, removable package.
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