A review carried out in Italy of a car with an Italian name, but not one made there. The Fiat 500 is usually made in Poland with North American ones being sourced from North America, Mexico to be specific.

Mine was just like this one, mainly because it was this one:

1.2 petrol engine, Dualogic automated manual, cute little alloys. I thought at first it didn’t have air conditioning which would be unexpected for a car in southern Italy but then I discovered it. No cruise control but that doesn’t bother me never having owned a car with it. Glass panoramic roof but no other toys of note.

Performance

Fine, despite the little engine. No rice puddings were in any danger of being deprived of their skins but it kept up well enough. I didn’t go the permitted 130 kmh on autostrade, partially because it got a little noisy beyond about 115 or 120 and partially because I wasn’t in any special hurry.

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Transmission

I had an automated manual, one of these:

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It was fine too despite all the hate these gearboxes get. Choice of manual or automatic operation (never used the manual except to check if it changed up at the redline, which it did) and when in the latter you had a choice of eco or normal gearchange patterns, chosen by the button marked E. In eco it changed up early and tended to stay there unless provoked, in normal it didn’t and didn’t. It would change down commendably smoothly if you braked, blipping the throttle perfectly as it did so to ensure that apart from the increased revs you had no indication that a gearchange had happened. Kickdown was noticeable, inevitably so as the power had to be interrupted and then reapplied. I found it best to use eco mode on decent roads and normal on the endless hairpin bends around where I was staying. Unlike some transmissions the Dualogic is eager to engage first when it sees the need which can lead to lots of revs - go down or up a really steep hill and it’ll engage first and hold 4,000 or more rpm for some time.

Economy

According to the trip computer, 5.8 l/100 km (48 mpg, 40 mpUSg) which if it’s true is good for a petrol car.

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Toys

Not many. Power windows and mirrors, manual a/c and a sunroof was about your lot. The air con wasn’t very powerful but fortunately it never went above 23 deg outside.

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Practicality

Plenty of space in the front for me, didn’t try the back but it looked doable for short trips. You wouldn’t expect much more from a car like this, it’s not intended as a people carrier.

Ride and handling

Reasonable enough without any need to write letters home about them.

Cuteness level

Better than average. The car - although it’s much bigger than the original Cinquecento, still a common sight in Italy - is small enough that the retro styling works better than on its bigger siblings.