Fiat 500 Lounge 1.2

Fiat 500 Lounge, front static 2
Fiat 500 Lounge, side action
Fiat 500 Lounge, side static
Fiat 500 Lounge, rear static
Fiat 500 Lounge, full rear static
Fiat 500 Lounge, dashboard
Fiat 500 Lounge, front seat

AT first glance, ‘if it ain't broke don't fix it', looks to have been the maxim adopted by Fiat when it came to sprucing up the 500 city mini.

With its cute-as-a-puppy looks and dinky dimensions the baby Fiat has proved super successful - especially with the fashion-conscious young who love the retro styling and extensive options to put your stamp on the car, as well as the cheap running costs.

With 1.5 million sales on the board since launch in 2007 the stakes were high when it came time for a revamp last year.

The iconic exterior's design and dimensions are obviously key to the car's appeal so changes here are limited with Fiat electing for simple alterations such as larger daytime running lights and swish looking tail lights with body-matched centres.

There is also a natty new grille and a touch of chrome to lift the look of the bonnet, but by and large Fiat leave well enough alone.

Take a seat in the well-appointed cabin though and it is clear that here is where the Italian motor group's designers have been busy.

Yes there is still the retro dash but a five-inch infotainment screen is now included with a redesigned steering wheel sporting audio buttons.

The fit and finish are classy - particularly on the rejigged centre console - while redesigned front seats are supportive and comfortable. There's a lidded glovebox to replace the open plan version which left your valuables on show to prying eyes.

The Lounge version I drove is the most luxurious 500 offered so for £12,640 you get touch screen with Bluetooth, rear parking sensors and a glass panoramic sunroof which makes the cabin light and airy despite the small dimensions. But as there are standard Aux-in and USB slots, the 500 now lacks a CD player. An extensive array of safety features include tyre pressure monitors and a plethora of airbags.

The dashboard features a large dial in front of the driver with a digital speedo flanked by various gauges that are pleasing to the eye.

The entry-level Pop model kicks proceedings off at £10,890 while the Pop Star trim offers air conditioning, heated mirrors, 15-inch alloys and a split-folding rear seat for £11,765.

There are a myriad of ways to add your own style to the car as a wide choice of bold colour combinations is backed up by natty ‘stick-on' designs featuring everything from butterflies to army camouflage that allow you to customise the exterior to your heart's content.

Power in the motor I drove is provided by a four-cylinder, 1.2-litre petrol engine - linked to an efficient short-throw five-speed transmission. It is fine around town but struggles a touch on faster roads, particularly when it comes to overtaking manoeuvres which have to be planned well in advance.

Average fuel economy is good though at around 60mpg and emissions are kept to 110g/km while low insurance costs will also suit younger owners watching the pennies.

There is also a Twinair two-cylinder turbo petrol engine available with two choices of power outputs - 84 or 104bhp - and a 1.3-litre Multijet diesel option.

The handling is nimble making the car fun to drive while the ride is comfortable as the suspension copes competently with most of the humps and hollows littering our roads these days.

FAST FACTS

Fiat 500 Lounge 1.2

Price:£12,640

Mechanical:69bhp, 1,242cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed:99mph

0-62mph:12.9 seconds

Combined MPG:60.1

Insurance Group:8

C02 emissions:110g/km

Bik rating:17%

Warranty:3yrs/60,000 miles

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