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Fiat 500 Cult review: 4.0/5

Fiat vamps up its modern icon with a new engine and added technology in the form of a new 'Cult' edition.

Dave Humphreys

Words: Dave Humphreys - @LordHumphreys

Published on: March 1, 2014

Words: Dave Humphreys - @LordHumphreys

Published on: March 1, 2014

Tech Specs

Model testedFiat 500 Cult
Pricingto be confirmed
Engine0.9-litre turbocharged two-cylinder petrol
Transmissionfront-wheel drive, six-speed manual
Body stylethree-door hatchback
RivalsFord Ka, Hyundai i10, Volkswagen up!
CO2 emissions99g/km (Band A2, €180 per annum)
Combined economy67.2mpg (4.2 litres/100km)
Top speed188km/h
0-100km/h10.0 seconds
Power105hp at 5,500rpm
Torque145Nm at 2,000rpm

Overall rating: 4/5

For those of you looking for the ultimate Fiat 500, the new Cult edition combines luxury, new technology and a more powerful engine in this range topping model.

In the Metal:

In keeping with the original brief when this car was first launched back in 2007, this latest Cult edition is full of retro charm. True 500 anoraks - sorry, fans - will spot the subtle changes that include the addition of chromed mirror caps, additional colour-matched trim on the lower door section and subtly updated rear lights. A new colour palette offers further choices for those that desire a shade of paint that is more days-gone-by than bang-up-to-date. The Fiat 500 is a car that is capable of pulling off these kinds of hues more than any other - even a MINI. A new selection of alloy wheels completes the exterior update.

The changes to the interior are small but help to remind everyone that this is the most luxurious 500 to date. Granted, the cream-coloured dashboard and steering wheel might not be to everyone's taste, but it does make the Fiat look and feel that bit more special. And of course it has plenty of retro touches, although thanks to modern health and safety standards, the Bakelite steering wheel hasn't made a return. Seats both front and rear take on a new box rib leather finish though, which does look rather smart. A new seven-inch TFT display replaces the traditional dials in the instrument binnacle and does go some way to making the now-ageing interior retain some appeal.

Driving it:

As much fun as the first TwinAir engine was, it did encourage you not to drive it as economically as was perhaps originally intended. Part of this was down to the lack of torque and the narrow power-band, two issues that have been addressed in this new, more powerful TwinAir engine. The 105hp unit has also now been mated with a six-speed gearbox, which makes the car feel far more settled at higher speeds. Ever tightening emissions regulations result in a shift indicator appearing far too frequently on the dash display, and in many cases a little too early given the road conditions - driving it on another 500rpm before upshifts allows it to carry momentum that bit better.

Fuel economy is reasonably good, though you will have to drive quite studiously if you want to come close to the quoted combined economy figure of 67mpg. The ride is still rather unrefined on uneven surfaces, and can be a little bouncy. However, it remains a fun car to drive at lower speeds while its compact size allows it to fit into the tightest of parking spaces.

What you get for your Money:

Although official pricing has yet to be confirmed, the Cult will be the most expensive version offered by Fiat and is aimed at those who want 'the ultimate' 500. According to Fiat, the car is expected to be purchased by true connoisseurs who the Italian firm may hope won't be concerned about the asking price. The new engine and gearbox does give the car wider appeal and makes it that bit more useable, particularly for those who may be commuting from satellite towns. For reference, the most expensive TwinAir-engined 500 on sale in Ireland right now costs €16,495.

Worth Noting

If you want that cool new TFT display on the dash of a Fiat 500 it isn't necessary to go for the 500 Cult, as Fiat plans to also make it a standard feature of the sportier looking 500S as well.

Summary

Unlike some of the other supermini-sized city cars on the market, the Fiat 500 still manages to put a grin on your face when driving. It remains a car that is full of character and charm. Add to that looks, which, despite receiving no significant changes in seven years, still manage to look fresh.



Tech Specs

Model testedFiat 500 Cult
Pricingto be confirmed
Engine0.9-litre turbocharged two-cylinder petrol
Transmissionfront-wheel drive, six-speed manual
Body stylethree-door hatchback
RivalsFord Ka, Hyundai i10, Volkswagen up!
CO2 emissions99g/km (Band A2, €180 per annum)
Combined economy67.2mpg (4.2 litres/100km)
Top speed188km/h
0-100km/h10.0 seconds
Power105hp at 5,500rpm
Torque145Nm at 2,000rpm