FIAT'S sexy little 500 retro machine has been turning heads all around Europe for the best part of eight years now.
And small wonder, for this wee belter was the best thing to come out of Italy for many a long year, although Fiat recently reworked the car giving it a total makeover with new styling cues, interior tweaks along with powertrain revisions to keep it fresh.
And that's good news for those in the market for a used 500, for to the untrained eye, it's hard to tell an older model from a new one straight out of the box.
Not only does does the diminutive machine look good on the outside, inside is pretty much a work of art, with the instrument binnacle, radio and heating controls set within the main facia colour-coded to match the car's exterior colour.
Taking its styling cues from the original 1957 500, the car's retro looks are the only remnants of the car that did for Italy what the Austin/Morris Mini did for the UK.
However, the 500 incorporated a whole range of features we've now come to expect from a modern automobile - and there's more - for the 500 was the first car in its segment to win a five-star rating in Euro NCAP crash tests.
That means it could mix and match it against the big boys. Seven air bags, automatic door locks, Isofix child seat mountings, anti-lock brakes and, on the 1.3 MultiJet model, electronic stability programme and hill start control were all standard.
Surprisingly however, Fiat opted for rear drum brakes, apart from the 1.4-litre 16-valve petrol version, which was shod with discs all round.
Out on the road, you'll be pretty impressed. I've driven one in pretty extreme wet and windy weather conditions, yet the the little 500 stuck to its task beautifully, its small size probably helping save it from being blown all over the road by cross winds.
The handling was precise and the machine relished being pushed on a bit on the more twisty sections of country roads while it cruised along quietly during faster dual-carriageway stints.
To make life easy, for trips in and around busy town centres, there's a city button which lightens up the steering making for easy manoeuvring around tight spots and for ease of parking.
There's plenty of engines to choose from small two-cylinder petrol units to the 1.3-litre MultiJet diesel, which to me was the pick of the bunch.
The four-pot, in-line unit was also the smallest and most advanced common rail diesel engine in the world when it was introduced and has now built up a proven track record for both longevity and reliability.
It pumped out 95bhp at 4000 revs and pulled 200Nm of torque at a low 1,500 revs. These figures helped give the 500 diesel a top speed of 112mph and a standing to 62mph sprint time of 10.7 seconds making it a great little all rounder.
Expect to pay around £4,480 to £6,245 for a 2011 11-plate 1.3-litre MultiJet in mid-range Lounge trim showing around 50,000 miles on the clock.
A 2012 on a 12-plate will cost in the region of £5,075 to £6,765, while moving up to a 2013 model on a 13-plate pushes those figures up to around the £5,685 to £7,335 mark.