Words: Stephen Spyropoulos
Photography: Stephen Spyropoulos
Published: May 4, 2016
If you’re looking for a small hatch with nimble handling, retro styling, and a free-revving engine, you might want to take a closer look at the Fiat 500. The funky Cinquecento (500) of today is based on the 1957 “Nuovo” Fiat 500, and when it was debuted over 60 years ago, this cheeky, sassy, and classy little hatch managed to pump out an outstanding 13.5 horsepower from its 0.4-litre two-cylinder rear mounted motor. Obviously, at a time when automakers didn’t bother rounding up their horsepower figures, you know acceleration is going to be lackluster. Luckily, today’s Fiat 500 has a few more horses than it did before.
Paying homage to the classic, Fiat developed the limited-run 1957 Edition, a retro-variant of the modern day Fiat with notable 16-inch vintage wheels, chrome bumpers, a brown and ivory interior, and to put the cherry on top, a throwback “FIAT” emblem. You can have your 1957 Edition in three colours, either Verde Chiaro (light green) Celeste (celestial blue) or Latte Menta (a light mint colour that oddly sounds like a Starbucks beverage).
We were lucky enough to have one of these rare special edition Fiats at our disposal for a week and even though all the revisions are cosmetic, the Fiat 500 is no exception to the claim of having a character that is larger than itself. Although it appears to have been on a Cannoli binge compared to the original, like its historic ancestor the 500 is quite zippy, easy to park, and ideal for an environment that consists of narrow and tight streets – like a small Italian village, or perhaps downtown Toronto.
One drawback from such a small unit is the lack of storage space and comfort room. The driving position is rather awkward for bulkier individuals, and the cramped backseats are difficult to access. On top of that, the cargo space in the hatch can swallow up a gym bag or two, but not much else.
But once you accept its limitations, you can truly absorb and appreciate the classy styling brought forth in the 1957 Edition’s interior. Premium brown leather seats that are supple and comfortable give this little car the perfect level of luxury and a nod to the original as well. There are two small cup holders next to the shifter and two more right behind the e-brake for rear-seat passengers – the holders are located pretty close to the floor however, which could spell trouble for taller drinks.
The front dashboard is contrasted in an ivory-colour glossy plastic, topped off with a chrome “500” emblem on the passenger side. This little Fiat also did not feature any kind of center console, but offered swingable brown leather armrests. Clearly Fiat has not forgotten that good taste is always in style.
The 1957 Edition also features a premium Beats audio system that gives you more than enough speaker wattage (368 Watts) as well as an 8-inch subwoofer in the already cramped hatch to keep you entertained. Although it did feel a bit bass-heavy at times, I found particular enjoyment with classics like Mambo Italiano and That’s Amore.
Under the short bonnet lies a 1.4-litre 4-cylinder mill that pumps out roughly 101 horsepower and features MultiAir technology to help improve fuel economy, which is a complex system that uses an additional electronically actuated camshaft to vary valve lift – think of BMW’s Valvetronic technology, but much simpler.
Fiat achieves what Valvetronic does by using hydraulic fluid running through narrow passages connecting the intake valves and the camshaft so the two can be decoupled. An electronic solenoid allows the engine to run in two different states, which benefits the engine in both power and fuel economy. The 1957 Edition also features a Sport mode button that unleashes a more aggressive throttle map. Additionally, the optional six-speed automatic has a driver-selectable gear change option that aided in livening up the car.
The Fiat felt solid going over rough terrain with no audible creaks or rattles in the body. However thanks to the short suspension travel, this meant that there was little room for cushioning the blows, and most of it traveled through the unibody frame and into the bottom of my seat. It made potholes and undulating roads quite bothersome.
Other than that, being behind the wheel and handling this microcar can only be described as exhilarating. It may be short on power, but once you find yourself on those bendy backroads, the Fiat comes alive. We did notice more body lean than usual from a car of this size, even with its sport-tuned suspension, but we never expected it to stack up against more competitive and dynamically oriented FWD hatchbacks like the MINI Cooper or the Volkswagen Golf to begin with.
Perhaps the biggest letdown about the Fiat 500 1957 Edition is the price tag. To find yourself in the same exact model as I had, you will be dropping close to $30,000. That is Subaru WRX money. Now I know there are people out there that consider the possibility of owning a special edition throwback and declare that money is no issue, but for the everyday consumer I’d advise that if you can live without the unique paintjob and retro wheels, stick with the regular Fiat 500 or at least opt for the ludicrously lovable Fiat 500 Abarth for roughly the same price. But if you truly appreciate the nostalgic quality brought forth by these limited 1957 Editions, I’d suggest snatching them up while they last.
For the Chinese review, click here.
型号 Model: 2016 Fiat 500 1957 Edition
顏色 Paint Type: Verde Chiaro
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $25,995
試車售價 Price as Tested: $28,250
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,300
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 3,546 / 1,627 / 1,519
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,112
引擎 Engine: 1.4L MultiAir 4-cylinder
最大馬力 Horsepower: 101 hp @ 6,500 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 98 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 6-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, FWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway ) L/100km: 8.7 / 6.9
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 7.3
輪胎尺碼 Tires: 195/45R16