Driven: 2017 Fiat 500S Review
I got the opportunity to test the Fiat 500S. Here is what I thought of the car:
What is the 2017 Fiat 500S all About?
If you think of an Italian classic, you must mention their exquisite and unusual sports cars. Just look at the contenders: the Ferrari 250 GTO, Ferrari Testarossa, the Lamborghini Miura andy Lamborghini Countach. However, the most influential model to come out of Italy could be the Fiat 500. It was originally conceived as a basic city runaround but it took the world by storm and sold millions of units. It remains one of the best-selling cars of all time.
The Fiat 500 kick-started the concept of a ‘city car’, even before we knew what one was. It has really retained its iconic looks. In fact, I would say that even old folks will recognise this as a Fiat 500. It might be bigger and bulkier but it still has the 500 ethos at heart.
So, much like the classic 500, the 500S mimics cute, cuddly small car aesthetics. Of course, it’s bigger than the old 500 in every measurable way, due to compulsory safety regulations and modern amenities. Its well-rounded shape appeals to many people nevertheless.
The most interesting aspect of our 500S is definitely the colour. It is a deep, unique military green. It adds an extra depth to an otherwise typical finish. To complement the colour, a nice set of 16 inch matte black wheels with diamond cuts are fitted to our 500S. As cute as it is, I think in this configuration, it looks a bit menacing.
Powering the 500S is a tiny engine. You might know it from the Panda. It’s the 0.9-litre turbocharged 2-cylinder TwinAir engine. Before you turn your nose up at this engine missing two cylinders, it’s surprisingly capable. It emits 105 bhp with 145 Nm of torque. And this engine weighs only 90 kg, so it’s economical too.
A 6-speed manual gearbox powers the front wheels. Still, even being a small car with a relatively modern engine, it’s not that fast. It takes ten seconds for the 500S to accelerate from 0-62 mph with a top speed of 117 mph. However, being a tiny, turbocharged modern engine, it’s practical. It can achieve 67 mpg and emits just 99 g/km of CO2.
How Does it Drive?
You will have guessed that driving dynamics should play a big part in the sports-infused 500S. Yet there are really no tweaks made to its drivetrain or suspension. You will have to look up the chain at the Abarth range for that.
Covering the basics, the Fiat 500S has excellent visibility. It’s a short, tall car with large windows all around. You can sit upright in the car and make good progress round the city.
The 500S is clearly made to accomplish certain tasks. Efficiency, simplicity, and driving pleasure. Its engine may be small, but here size doesn’t matter! It’s not a fast vehicle from a standing start, but it makes all its torque at 2000 rpm. This combined with a short gear ratio, means overtaking isn’t challenging at all.
The TwinAir 105hp engine sounds interesting. Once you start working your way to the rev limit, the engine sounds deep and throaty. I was shocked by this sound in Sport mode and thought it added to the joy of driving the car.
Overall, the vehicle feels rigid and takes corners well. A mature ride means it’s not the most hypersensitive and amenable. With that though comes the relaxed attitude the 500S provides. It is difficult to unsettle and disrupt the vehicle around corners.
What is it Like Inside?
As the S in the name might suggest, the Fiat 500S is the sporty sibling of the bunch. This is found on the fabric upholstery around the seats and door panels. You also get sporty seats as standard in the 500S.
The car’s instrument cluster is reminiscent of a Mini. With a central digital multi-display screen that sits deep into the binnacle, it looks very focused. The steering wheel is large in proportion to the car and is stitched in leather.
The centre console looks stylish and well rounded. The infotainment system is a basic 7-inch unit. While the rest may look spartan in the modern age, it’s simple and looks pretty rugged. The shift knob is within arm’s length on the centre console, much like the one on the Honda Civic EP3.
One of the biggest selling points for the Fiat 500 is its sheer efficiency. It’s a small car that can hold luggage. At 185 litres, the 500S can comfortably last you a weekend road trip. Especially, when you compare it to something like the Toyota IQ.
There are also some notable additions. For example, there is a red 500 badge on the passenger side dashboard . It’s a nice contrast to an otherwise very grey interior. For music fans, the 500 comes with a Beats audio system that packs a punch.
The Fiat 500S feels like a great fit for British roads. It has just two cylinders but has more zest than its competitors. On paper, this isn’t the fastest or most fun car available. But being behind the wheel makes for an enjoyable experience and brings a little extra happiness to your day.
The Fiat 500S costs £17,125 so it is not cheap by any means. However, the level of personalisation is so high that you are unlikely to see two cars the same.
Looking at the TwinAir engine, it is a great option with sound performance and incredible economy. The interior of the car is bigger than it looks and offers everything you need topped with a sporty flourish. If you want a performance version of the model you might want to consider an Abarth. If you need actual boot space, the Fiat 500L is a good choice.
2017 Fiat 500S Specs
- Price: £17,125
- Engine: 0.9-litre turbocharged 2-cylinder TwinAir
- Power: 105 hp
- Torque: 145 Nm
- Transmission: 6-Speed Manual
- 0-62mph: 10.0 Seconds
- Top speed: 117 mph
- Weight: 1,100 kg
- Economy: 67 mpg
- CO2: 99 g/km
Author: Paul Hadley