Subcompact cars often sacrifice personality in the name of affordability, but the 2019 Fiat 500 throws that notion out the window. The modern version of the original Cinquecento is one of the most whimsical cars you can buy, but it isn’t without some notable drawbacks.
We’ve given it 4.6 out of 10 overall, proving sometimes charm alone just isn’t enough. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
For 2019, the 500 receives minimal changes, keeping the 1.4-liter turbo-4 as standard on all models. Upsized 16-inch wheels, performance brakes and suspension, body-color front and rear fascias, fog lamps, and a “Turbo” badge are now included. Also, the extra retro 1957 Edition returns for the first time since 2016.
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The smile-inducing design has had a few visual tweaks since its 2012 introduction and the Abarth model adds fender flares and increased drama to go along with its peppy performance. Inside, the body-color dashboard is a welcome pop of pizazz, while a 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster and a 5.0-inch infotainment screen serve to make things a bit more modern.
The 1.4-liter turbocharged engine remains standard across the lineup and is mated to a 6-speed automatic or 5-speed manual transmission with front-wheel drive standard. Though showing its age, the turbo-4 gives the base 500 good grunt at 135 horsepower, while the Abarth represents the enthusiast’s choice with 160 hp and a raucous exhaust note.
Make no mistake, the 500 is a tiny car, and best kept to two adults as the rear seat is almost torturous to spend extended amounts of time in.
Though a touchscreen helps, the standard infotainment lacks Apple CarPlay or Android Auto compatibility even as an option, a noticeable oversight for a car aimed at younger buyers.
Safety scores haven’t been updated since 2017 and yielded a worrisome “Poor” small overlap score from the IIHS, and fuel economy drops behind more frugal competitors around 30 mpg combined with a manual transmission.
A cabriolet model offers a fold-back canvas roof. An electric version of the 500 called 500e is available in select west coast markets. With an 84-mile EPA-rated range, it’s more a fashion statement than a practical electric vehicle, however.