Fiat 500

Carpedia

Dec 10th, 2019

Fiat 500

The Fiat 500 is a two/three-door, four-seat A-segment or city car manufactured and marketed by Fiat from 1957 to 1975. The first generation had a rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout. This microcar's body style ranged from saloon and estate to semi-convertible and even panel van. It succeeded the 500 "Topolino" and measured 2.97m long. A 0.497-cc engine powered the first model.

In 2007, it would later reemerge as a 2-door, four-seat mini with a front-engine, front-wheel-drive layout based on the Fiat Mini platform. 

History

Fiat launched the 500 to meet the demands of the post-war market, initially offering it as a front-engine from 1949 up until 1954 when Fiat released a lighter rear-engined car just like the Volkswagen Beetle. Despite its size, the Fiat 500 was a convenient and popular vehicle. It had a 2-door coupe body and was later available as an estate, dubbed the "Giardiniera” which featured the standard engine placed on its side. The Giardiniera had a longer wheelbase, a more convenient back seat, a sunroof, and improved brakes. 

There were also some sports models produced in Italy and Australia. The Australian-built variant of the 500 was the Steyr-Puch 500 manufactured by Steyr-Daimler-Puch. Production of the 500 ended in 1975 and was replaced by the 126 that Fiat launched two years earlier. 

Fast forward to May 2006 when Fiat announced an all-new three-door, four-seat 500 hatchbacks. The new model featured a retro design, similar to that of the VW Beetle and BMW MINI. It was derived from the 2004 Fiat Trepiùno 3=1 concept. It is a front-wheel-drive car that uses Fiat’s Multiair hydraulic-actuated VVT engine technology (which won the 2010 International Engine of the Year award). 

Models

500 C (2009-present)

The convertible variant of the 500, designated 500 C (C for Cabrio), was unveiled in March 2009 at the Geneva Motor Show. Its features, such as the roof pillars, side windows, and door frames, all mirror the hatchback 500. It weighs more than the hatchback and has a slightly longer windshield with a reinforced upper structural cross-member and a stronger front cross-member. It features a dual-layer, three-position power-retractable cloth top controlled by either a key remote or open/close button and an integrated color-matched spoiler, among others.

It has less cargo space as compared to the hatchback. When the rear cargo lid is opened, the top automatically closes partly to give the user greater cargo access. They are also equipped with an ultrasonic park assist system because of their limited rear visibility. 

Abarth 500 (2008-Present)

The Abarth 500, a performance model of the Fiat, was unveiled at the 78th Geneva Motor Show. The car comes with a 1.4-litre Fire inline-four turbocharged, intercooler engine that achieves peak power of 99 kW at 5,500 rpm and torque of 206 Nm at 3,000 rpm. The engine sends power sent to the wheels through a five-speed C510 transmission. Other features of the Abarth 500 include low ride suspension, electric power steering, 16-inch alloy wheels, and four-wheel disc brakes. 

The interior features turbo pressure gauge, gear shift indicator, Blue&Me entertainment system, and aluminium foot pedals. 

Powertrains and Models Available in Australia

Several models have been available in Australia since 2008. They include: 

  • Lounge 
  • Pop 
  • Sport 
  • By Diesel 
  • Twin Air 
  • Twin Air Plus 
  • Twin Air Lounge 
  • By Gucci
  • Lounge Tricolored
  • S
  • ANNIVERSARIO 
  • 60TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL EDITION 
  • COLLEZIONE SPRING EDT 
  • SPIAGGINA 58 EDITION 
  • FALL/WINTER SPECIAL EDITION

These are the engines used:

  • A 1,368 cc 1.4L four-cylinder petrol engine rated 74 kW at 6,000 rpm with a torque of 131 Nm at 4,250 rpm
  • A 1,248 cc 1.2L 16-valve, diesel engine rated 55 kW at 4,000 rpm with a torque of 145 Nm at 1,500 rpm 
  • An 875 cc 0.9L Twin Air Turbo engine rated 63 kW at 5,500 rpm with a torque of 145 Nm at 2,000 rpm. This engine is used with the Twin Air trim models.

These engines power the drive system through either a 5-speed/6-speed manual gearbox or a 5-speed/6-speed automatic transmission. 

Conclusion

The original Fiat 500 was an undeniably popular car during its time, and the current retro-styled interpretation is gaining some following, too. That people look at it twice and wear a smile as they struggle not to turn the third time makes this a very charming little car.

Pastel colors, distinctive headlights, a short chassis, and a perky engine all combine to make it the perfect city car. It does a quick 0-100km/h in 10.7 seconds – not bad for the pint-size Fiat!

A used Fiat 500 makes an excellent buy, too, although there are some issues associated with it. Look-out for kerbed wheels where chunks may have been bitten out of the alloy. Also, some of the 500 trims, specifically the 1.2L models, have a history of oil leaking into the coolant system, which may mean failure of other parts. 

In case you run into any of these or other issues, you can contact Carpart for replacement parts – your trusted Australian spare part dealer with a wealth of experience in the automobile repair and sales industry. 

-Eric Anyega