By Patrick James on 2017-09-03 - The author has been a motoring writer for more than 16 years. Formerly motoring editor at the Coventry Telegraph, he now produces motoring copy, on new car launches and road tests on a freelance basis.
Fiat 500S 1.2
FIAT'S funky city car is one of those evergreen products.
Much like the diddy original which is celebrating its 60th anniversary, it has an enduring appeal.
The latest model has been around for 10 years now, just gradually evolving and that seems to be the secret of its popularity.
It is cheap and funky and importantly, can be personally customised without breaking the bank.
It is also well built and cheap to run, a perfect little car about town.
There are now many very good competitors, but the Italian job still attracts a host of young admirers.
The distinctive shape of the Fiat 500 is instantly recognisable.
It has been tweaked in the past 18 months - new lights and an LED running light display, a new grille and bumper revisions, revised light clusters at the rear - but otherwise not much seems to have changed.
You can still customise it all you want with various colour combinations and optional extras.
However, the 500S driven here, has had the full sporty treatment with sports, bumpers, special side skirts, privacy glass and a rear spoiler with door handles, tailgate and alloy wheels finished in satin graphite trim.
It looks stylish and racy, even if the 69bhp engines performance doesn't quite match the sport billing.
The interior is also pretty tasty, with sports seats and contrasting detailing, standard TFT instruments, a special facia finish and sports steering wheel, while the binnacle is dominated by a single large dial.
The dash-mounted seven-inch touchscreen with tablet-like controls and a high resolution display featurescontrols connectivity and infotainment including Bluetooth, DAB, sat nav with live connected traffic services and smartphone integration.
Electric windows are standard as is air con, central locking and power steering.
It feels surprisingly spacious with good room for four, although a fifth would be just uncomfortable. Headroom is good as is legroom in the front.
Boot space is, well . . . this is a city car so don't expect to be able to pack the golf clubs, but extra space is created with folding rear seats increasing the 185 litres to 550 litres.
On the road, the 1.2-litre petrol engine is lively enough from a standing start, but then runs out of puff and has be worked pretty hard for any kind of decent acceleration. It takes around 13 seconds to hit the 60mph mark.
Mated to a smooth five-speed gearbox, plenty of shifting up and down is needed, particularly around town.
The 500S is economical however with economy of a claimed 60.1mpg and emissions of 110g/km.
It is also a surprisingly good motorway performer, with wind and road noise present but not too intrusive.
Handling is pretty good with the 'wheel in each corner' layout giving plenty of stability and grip in corners.
For parking the familiar city button allows the steering to be lightened for those tricky manoeuvres.
Even city cars these days are packed with safety kit and the Fiat 500 is no exception with seven airbags, stability control and ABS and parking sensors.
Fiat 500S 1.2
Mechanical: 69bhp, 1,249cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via five-speed manual gearbox
Max Speed: 106 mph
0-62mph: 12.9 seconds
Combined MPG: 60.1
Insurance Group: 110g/km
C02 emissions: 21%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
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