The new Fiat 500X

2019 Fiat 500X 1.0 Petrol Review

The new Fiat 500X
The new Fiat 500X is on sale in Ireland now

Caroline drives the 2019 Fiat 500X!

The Fiat 500X landed in Ireland in 2015, just as the compact crossover boom was taking hold. There have been a host of new entrants since but the Fiat 500X does the compact crossover thing the cheeky Italian way. That means that the 500X has oodles of style and charm inherited from the very successful Fiat 500 city car. But being a larger vehicle altogether makes it much more practical. There’s more space and more doors.

The 500X uses a clever formula, at least on paper. At some point Fiat 500 owners were going to outgrow the city car and need more space, and why not get it in the trendy skin of a crossover?

What's new for the 2019 Fiat 500X?

And now the Fiat 500X has recently received a mid-life refresh with updates to styling, interior, equipment and the debut of a new family of turbo petrol engines. On the outside, there are new LED daytime running lights, LED headlights and rear lights, while the cockpit has also been updated to integrate more technology, improve ergonomics and refresh interior trims.

In Ireland pricing kicks off at €21,795, and the 500X comes in three trims or flavours: Urban, City Cross and Cross.

The Urban model comes with a decent standard specification including 16-inch alloy wheels, leather steering wheel, body-coloured dashboard, air conditioning, cruise control and an electric parking brake. There’s also safety equipment like Traffic Sign Recognition, Intelligent Speed Assist and Lane Assist driving assist systems standard on all versions, as is the Uconnect 7-inch touchscreen, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

The interior of the 2019 Fiat 500X
The interior of the 2019 Fiat 500X

The City Cross (from €23,395) adds a few more aesthetic bits including 17-inch alloy wheels, satin chrome inserts, body-coloured door mirrors and front and rear grey skid plate. There are also front fog lights, a 3.5-inch colour TFT monitor, automatic climate control and rear parking sensors.

The range topper is the Cross as tested here (from €24,995) with 18-inch alloy wheels, roof bars and dark tinted rear windows. Inside, it adds TomTom navigation to the 7-inch touchscreen, along with Parkview rear parking camera, dusk sensor and front armrest.

There is a choice of 14 different colours, including the new tricoat Ivory, metallic Blue Italia and Techno Green.

The interior of the Fiat 500X

Inside the Fiat 500X is a colourful and cheerful place. The body coloured dash panel is a classic touch of the 500 family and a lot of the switchgear is shared between the two cars. The plastics are mostly hard around the car but there is some more soft touch panelling also and overall quality is not a problem. You sit surprisingly high in the 500X also so there is a nice commanding driving position too.

The 500X is a compact vehicle so by its nature the interior space is not that much more accommodating than your average supermini. Four will be comfortable inside and the boot is very good for this class of vehicle at 350 litres.

The Fiat 500X has a new family of turbo petrol engines available
The Fiat 500X has a new family of turbo petrol engines available

The new engine line up for the Fiat 500X is petrol only, but the big news is that Fiat has introduced two new turbo petrol units to the range. Buyers can choose from a three-cylinder 1.0-litre powerplant that delivers 120hp and 190Nm of torque and is paired with a six-speed manual transmission, as well as a four-cylinder 1.3-litre engine with 150hp and 270Nm of torque, combined with a six-speed dual clutch automatic transmission (DCT).

There is also an entry level 110hp 1.6 E-Torq, combined with a manual transmission.

On the road in the Fiat 500X

My test car was a Fiat 500X Cross 1.0-litre 120hp turbo petrol model with a list price of €24,995. These small 1.0-litre turbo petrol engines are ideal for this size of vehicle, and it’s no different for the Fiat 500X. There is plenty of power and refinement is also good across town and motorway, with no vibration at all coming through to the cabin. Over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 7.1l/100km and motor tax is €280 per year for this model.

Elsewhere, the Fiat 500X is an easy drive with light steering that makes it great for urban environments. On the motorway it’s very stable and composed, with only very rough road surfaces catching it out. The 500X is sadly not as fun to drive as the Fiat 500 city car, with the taller SUV body making it feel a bit more clumsy in corners.  But for this class of vehicle, it’s all perfectly adequate.

The Fiat 500X is a cheerful and colourful character for the compact crossover segment
The Fiat 500X is a cheerful and colourful character for the compact crossover segment

The Fiat 500X takes many style cues from the 500 city car, which is a good thing. Putting it in a larger and more practical body with chunky crossover style should make it searingly popular. However the compact crossover segment is vast and it’s easy for the 500X to be overlooked. Yet this cheeky Italian is stylish and comes well-equipped, while the new 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine really feels like it belongs here. And though there may be a few niggles, with that face it’s impossible to be angry with the 500X for long!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Fiat 500X Cross 1.0 120hp
Price: 
€24,995 (Range starts at €21,795)
Engine: 1.0-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
120 hp
Torque: 190 Nm
0-100km/h:  
10.9 seconds
Top speed: 188 km/h
Economy: 
5.8-6.0 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
133-139g/km
Motor tax: 
€280 per year


The updated Fiat 500X

Updated Fiat 500X Goes On Sale

The updated Fiat 500X
The updated Fiat 500X has just arrived in Ireland

The Fiat 500X has been updated inside and out with new looks and technology. It goes on sale in Ireland priced from €21,795.

On the outside, there are new LED daytime running lights, LED headlights and rear lights, while the cockpit has also been updated to integrate more technology, improve ergonomics and refresh interior trims.

The 500X will be available with three petrol engines only, including two brand new, more efficient turbo petrol engines. Buyers can choose from a three-cylinder 1.0-litre powerplant that delivers 120hp and 190Nm of torque and is paired with a six-speed manual transmission, as well as a four-cylinder 1.3-litre engine with 150hp and 270Nm of torque, combined with six-speed dual clutch automatic transmission (DCT).

There is also an entry level 110hp 1.6 E-Torq, combined with manual transmission.

There are three trim levels available for the Fiat 500X in Ireland: Urban, City Cross and Cross.

Traffic Sign Recognition, Intelligent Speed Assist and Lane Assist driving assist systems are standard on all versions, as is the Uconnect 7-inch HD LIVE touchscreen, with Apple CarPlay integration and Android AutoTM compatibility.

There is a choice of 14 different colours, including the new tricoat Ivory, metallic Blue Italia and Techno Green.

In Urban trim level, the 500X comes with 16-inch alloy wheels, Techno-leather steering wheel, manual air conditioning, cruise control, electric parking brake and 60/40 split rear seat.

The City Cross version adds an off-road look, enhanced by 17-inch alloy wheels, satin chrome inserts and body-coloured door mirrors. Front fog lights, 3.5-inch colour TFT monitor, automatic climate control and rear parking sensors complete the trim.

The top-of-the-range Cross version adds LED headlights, 18-inch alloy wheels, roof bars and dark tinted rear windows. Inside, it adds TomTom navigation to the 7-inch touchscreen, along with Parkview rear parking camera, dusk sensor and front armrest.

The addition of a rear parking camera is a good one, considering the larger size of this model and the tech being used by competing manufacturers.

Pricing

ModelOTR Price
Fiat 500X Urban 1.6 110hp€21,795
Fiat 500X City Cross 1.0 120hp€23,395
Fiat 500X City Cross 1.3 150hp DCT Automatic€25,895
Fiat 500X Cross 1.0 120hp€24,995
Fiat 500X Cross 1.3 150hp DCT Automatic€27,495

Disclosure: this article contains a paid for link to an external site.


Fiat 124 Spider Ireland Review Caroline Kidd

Fiat 124 Spider Review

There was a danger that Fiat were becoming too dependent on cute city cars and cheap hatchbacks but Fiat finally has a sports car back in their range that’s just not sensible at all.  The Fiat 124 Spider is a classic two seat roadster with a folding fabric roof, and is inspired by the 1966 original of the same name.

If the new Fiat Tipo is the practical, sensible part of the Fiat brand, then the 124 Spider is the emotional part. It’s the type of car that will make you part with your cash not for sensible things like value for money or boot space, but because it’s a sexy, low slung roadster that will make you a younger and better-looking version of yourself just by association.

The new 124 Spider shares much of its underpinnings with the Mazda MX5 but all the body panels are different. These two cars look uniquely different, but the Fiat is softer and more retro next to the Mazda’s sharp lines and angled approach. Inside the cabin wraps around you and the quality is good. These two roadsters are made in the same factory in Japan and this is the best quality Fiat I’ve seen. Infotainment is provided via a 7” screen that’s controlled by a rotary dial on the centre console.

Entry Classica models start from €32,395 and include air con, cruise control, and keyless engine start. Lusso models start at €35,195 and add satellite navigation, rear parking sensors, 17-inch alloy wheels, heated leather seat, automatic climate control, and front fog lamps. Lusso Plus is priced from €36,695 and adds adaptive LED headlamps, auto lights and wipers and a nine-speaker BOSE sound system.

The cabin has a ‘tight’ feel, especially with the roof up, and there is limited storage. There’s no glovebox but there is some small locked storage behind the two seats and the boot has a capacity of a meagre 140 litres.

Fiat 124 Spider review ireland
The interior of the Fiat 124 Spider

The Fiat 124 Spider is all about the driving. You’re positioned low in the car and your legs are stretched out in front of you. You can hear the Fiat’s 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine working every time you change gear or accelerate, so it’s a very raw driving experience and it is quite noisy. You can feel the road underneath you, but the 124 Spider is comfortable for every day use.

The 1.4-litre engine produces 140hp, 240Nm of torque and 0-100kmh is achieved in 7.5 seconds with a top speed of 215kmh. I found the engine to be responsive and the turbo gives you a lovely thrust of power every time you change gear and accelerate.

The 124 Spider has classic rear wheel drive handling so it floats around corners with real grace and elegance. Surprisingly there’s not that much feedback coming from the steering, but because it’s quite a heavy set up you still feel connected to the road.

There are few things in life that hold as much promise as a red, two door, low slung, Italian sports car. The Fiat 124 Spider is not practical, but it’s fast, it’s fun and it’s raw, and that’s the innate charm of this car.

Fiat 124 Spider review ireland
The Fiat 124 Spider is not sensible but it's fast and fun!

Model tested: Fiat 124 Spider Lusso Plus
Price: 
€36,695 (Range starts at €32,395)
Engine: 1.4-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
140hp
Torque: 240Nm
0-100km/h:  
7.5 seconds
Top speed: 215km/h
Economy: 
44.1mpg
CO2 emissions:  
148g/km
Motor tax:
€390 per year

Caroline Kidd


Fiat Tipo Review Ireland

Fiat Tipo Review

Since the demise of the Fiat Bravo, Fiat has been missing from the popular C-segment. To fill this gaping hole in their portfolio, Fiat has gone back in time to resurrect the Tipo name and launch a new compact car trio: say hello to the new Fiat Tipo estate, saloon and hatchback.

Fiat is not trying to evoke nostalgia for 1980's hatchbacks with retro design cues and PR spiel about resurrecting a classic. The 2017 Fiat Tipo is designed to be a budget compact car, that will give buyers ‘more for less’.

To that end, Fiat are launching the new Tipo in Ireland at superbly good value pricing. The saloon starts at just €16,745, the hatchback at €17,995, and the estate (station wagon) at €19,245.

It screams bargain. But is it just too good to be true?

Fiat Tipo Review Ireland
The Fiat Tipo is available from just €16,745

The Fiat Tipo is certainly very presentable from the outside. There is nothing of the flamboyant Italian about it, which is a little disappointing if you like that sort of thing, but it has a reassuringly steady, sensible design that will appeal to the masses. You won’t stand out but you could do far worse.

The cost saving measures to bring this car to market at such low pricing are revealed a little more when you get inside. The design makes it easy to interact with the controls and switches, but there is an abundance of cheap, dull-looking plastic. There is some more shiny material on the inside of the doors, but that’s not really a success either. Altogether it’s more functional than plush. A 5” Uconnect touchscreen with Bluetooth connection and navigation sits in the centre of the dash but it is a bit on the small side.

The Tipo redeems itself being generously sized for its stature. The rear legroom is very good for this class and though the middle seat is not the most comfortable place to sit, the legroom is not impinged by any clumsy high transmission tunnel, and headroom is also very good all round. The boot is 440 litres in the hatch, 520 litres in the saloon and 550 litres in the estate model, all large volumes for this class of car.

Fiat Tipo Review Ireland
The interior of the new Fiat Tipo

The engine range is also quite extensive. The petrol Tipo range comprises of a 95hp 1.4-litre, a 120hp 1.4-litre turbo and the 1.6-litre 110hp ‘e-TorQ’ that comes with an automatic gearbox. There are two turbo diesel engines for new Tipo: a 95hp 1.3-litre and a 120hp 1.6-litre.

My test car had the 1.6-litre diesel with 120hp and a 6 speed manual gearbox. It’s got bags of power and there’s always more in reserve so even in sixth gear on the motorway a squeeze of the throttle yields quick acceleration without having to drop a gear. Motor tax is €180 per year while this engine will return a claimed 76.3mpg in the estate version. There is a coarse edge to the engine note under hard acceleration and when taking off in first and second gear, but once cruising noise is not an issue.

The Tipo holds the road well. The steering is too light for the car to be hugely engaging to drive but there is enough resistance to cover ground quickly and safely, and it doesn’t lean too much in the corners. Refinement on the motorway is good: road and wind noise are kept to a minimum.  Ride comfort is less impressive because there is a constant little quiver underneath you even when the road ahead looks smooth.

Fiat Tipo Review Ireland
The Fiat Tipo doesn't hide its budget beginnings, but it's impossible to ignore if you are looking for a compact car

Available in three trim levels, Pop, Easy and Lounge, entry level cars come with air con, Bluetooth, and four electric windows, while Easy trim adds 16” alloys, 5” Uconnect touchscreen, cruise control, front fog lights and rear parking sensors. As an introductory offer, Fiat Ireland are offering the Easy trim cars at the same price as the Pop version.

The Fiat Tipo lacks the polish of more expensive rivals, never really shaking off the budget beginnings, but it’s not trying to be anything other than a sensible car. Aspirational types should look elsewhere, but the high standard spec, sub-€20,000 pricing and generous interior space makes the Fiat Tipo impossible to ignore if you are looking for a compact car that’s good value for money.

Model tested: Fiat Tipo Station Wagon Lounge 1.6 120hp
Price: 
€23,495 (Range starts €16,745)
Engine:
1.6-litre turbo diesel
Power: 120hp
0-100km/h:  
10.1 seconds
Economy: 
76.3mpg
CO2 emissions:  
98g/km
Motor tax:
€180 per year

Caroline Kidd


The 2016 Fiat 500!

Fiat 500 1.2-litre Review (2016)

Caroline reviews the 2016 Fiat 500.

Scroll down to read the review or watch my Fiat 500 video review!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XeJCS8PSSzE]

The Fiat 500 needs little in the way of introduction - it’s a modern icon. But 2008, the year the 50’s Italian icon was relaunched, seems like a long time ago now, and as the car ages Fiat faces the challenge of how to move the design forward without upsetting the core market.

So they’ve taken a very gentle approach for this latest model update so the 500 still looks very much like a 500. However, according to Fiat there are 1,900 new components.

If you look closely there are some visual changes - some new lights front and back including LED DRLs in the shape of the ‘0’ from the 500 logo, squarer edged bumpers, and a new 3D effect grille. But I'm pleased to say the 500 is still cute as a button.

You can make your 500 stand out from the crowd now with new ‘Second Skin’ personalisation options - factory-fitted themed graphics that add more wow factor, for example “Comics”, which has a cool two-tone appearance of black-yellow or black-red. There are new alloy wheel designs and two brand new colours, “Glam Coral” pastel and “Avantgarde Bordeaux” metallic, which bring the total number of colours available to 13.

The interior of the 2016 Fiat 500
The interior of the 2016 Fiat 500

Inside the 2016 Fiat 500

The interior of the 2016 Fiat 500 has lost none of its retro charm with familiar body coloured panels and circular instrument binnacle. But it now looks even better than before with a new centre console design where the new Uconnect infotainment system now takes centre stage. The 500's interior is one of the brightest, most fun and playful interiors around and can’t but make you feel a bit happier than you were when leaving the house.

However, there are a few problems that have not been addressed with this update. The standard speedometer is not the easiest to read and the seating position could be awkward for you because the lever to adjust the seat height doesn’t really move the rear cushion up and down properly, it tilts it instead, which is a bit weird.

And remember this is a small car, fine up front for driver and passenger but rear space is snug with just two designated seats and the boot is also on the small side at 185 litres.

There are three trim levels available for the Fiat 500 and standard equipment on Pop includes LED daytime running lights, electric windows and mirrors, Uconnect and steering wheel-mounted audio controls. Step up to Pop Star for air con and alloys and to Lounge for front fog lights, a panoramic glass sunroof, rear parking sensors, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and a more advanced Uconnect system.

The Fiat 500 is a classic small car
The Fiat 500 is a classic small car

What are my options?

The engine line-up for the 2016 Fiat 500 has been carried forward so there’s the 1.2-litre petrol, with 69bhp, two TwinAir turbo petrols with a bit more power (85 and 105bhp), and a 1.3 litre diesel (95bhp), which is actually the only diesel you will find in this segment.

My test car had the basic 1.2 litre, 69bhp petrol engine. It is modest in terms of power and performance - fine at urban speeds but it’s slow to pick up pace out of town and if you meet any steep hills you will be dropping gears rapidly to maintain that pace! But this engine is the bigseller in the 500 range and the pricing keeps the car cheap and cheerful. The turbocharged units are more powerful but they do have their own peculiar noise, which you will find irritating or irritating.

Little has changed in the way the 500 drives, which is largely a good thing because this is a genuinely fun little car to drive. Nothing to do with outright power of course, but it has good grip and road holding ability, the body feels nice and rigid, and the steering is direct and accurate.

Is the Fiat 500 any good?

But if there is to be a chink in the armour it’s the ride comfort - not the 500’s strong point. But this was really only an issue for me on the motorway – and you can excuse it because the car is not designed for motorways. It just never really settles, there’s this feeling of constant movement underneath you, which can grate on a long journey.

But you can forgive it some more when you look at the pricing and start thinking about how cool you will look behind the wheel for so little money. The 500 range starts at €13,450 for your basic 1.2 litre in Pop trim. Pop Star models start at €14,400 and Lounge models start at €15,800. The cabrio is available from €16,450.

The Fiat 500 is not the perfect small car, some are more spacious and some a bit more comfortable. But in terms of pure desirability, presence and style, the 2016 Fiat 500 leads the way and there are few cars that move in such fashionable circles with the same sort of pricing as the 500.

Forever in love with the Fiat 500
Forever in love with the Fiat 500

Need more space? Read our review of the Fiat 500X!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Fiat 500 Lounge 1.2-litre
Price: €15,800 (500 range starts at €13,450)
Engine: 1.2-litre petrol
Power: 69bhp
0-100km/h: 12.9 seconds
Economy: 60.1mpg
CO2 emissions:  110g/km
Tax band: A3 (€190 per year)


The 2015 Fiat 500 has been updated

2016 Fiat 500 Arrives In Ireland

The 2015 Fiat 500 has been updated
The 2015 Fiat 500 has been updated

Fiat launched the new 500 to the Irish media on Monday at Weston Airport in Lucan, Co. Dublin and they’re billing it as ‘the icon reloaded’.

On the surface of things it doesn’t look much different from the petite 500 remake that first arrived here in 2008.

But according to Fiat, there are 1,900 new components to enhance and refine an already very successful 1950s-inspired retro recipe.

How successful exactly? 1.5 million have been sold in over 100 countries since launch in 2007 and sales have increased year on year - even as the car has aged. From an Irish perspective, the market may be small for 3-door city cars like the 500, but just under 2000 of them have found homes here.

The marketing for the Fiat 500 is very much aimed at the young, social urbanite, yet interestingly Fiat’s own sales data shows that the average customer is a bit more middle-aged  - 45 to be exact – but predictably female.

What's new for the next Fiat 500?

Image and styling are naturally very important to Fiat 500 buyers and with the success of the current model, Fiat decided not to get too creative in the design studio when it came to updating the car. The most noticeable changes to the styling are the addition of new LED daytime running lights in a circular shape (like the zeros of the 500 logo), new bumpers with squarer edges, and a 3D-effect grille with chrome-like buttons on the Lounge version.

At the rear there are new 'empty' tail lamp clusters with ring-shaped illumination and body-coloured centres.

There are new alloy wheel designs and two brand new colours, “Glam Coral” pastel and “Avantgarde Bordeaux” metallic, which bring the total number of colours available to 13.

New ‘Second Skin’ personalisation options have also been added to the 500 range. These are factory-fitted themed graphics that add more wow factor, for example “Comics”, which has a cool two-tone appearance of black-yellow or black-red.

Inside the updated 500

The interior still has the retro vibe with coloured dash panels and large round instrument binnacle. There’s more choice inside in terms of colour schemes and seat fabrics, though some of it is dependent on the trim level of the car. The Uconnect infotainment system is now standard across the range, with steering wheel-mounted audio controls and USB / Aux-in ports on all cars.

Available as a hatchback or cabriolet, there are three trim levels for the Irish market: Pop, Pop Star and Lounge. Standard equipment includes remote central locking, electric windows and mirrors, Uconnect, steering wheel-mounted audio controls and LED daytime running lights. An electric roof with heated glass rear screen is standard on the cabriolet.

Step up to Pop Star for air con and alloys, and to Lounge for a panoramic fixed glass sunroof, rear parking sensors, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and front fog lights. Lounge models also have a more advanced Uconnect system with Bluetooth hands-free calling and music streaming, voice recognition and an SMS reader for reading text messages.

What are my engine options?

In terms of engines, there is a choice of three petrols and one diesel: a 1.2-litre 69bhp petrol , 0.9-litre TwinAir turbo petrol with 85bhp or 105bhp and a 1.3-litre 95bhp turbo diesel.

At the launch I sampled the 1.2-litre 69bhp and TwinAir Turbo 105bhp. The TwinAir is predictably quick but it likes to let you know it’s working, so the noise will be either irritating or endearing. The 1.2-litre feels flatter through the gears, and the lack of power could get frustrating out on bigger roads - but it’s fine at low speeds around town.

The key to the Fiat 500 is pricing. The hatchback range starts at €13,450 for the 1.2-litre petrol in Pop trim. The Pop Star range starts at €14,400 and Lounge models at €15,800. The cabrio is available from €16,450.

Yes the Fiat 500 is a small car with a small boot. But in terms of pure desirability, presence and style, you won’t find many that move in such fashionable circles and can match that sort of pricing.

Caroline Kidd

Watch out for a full road test of the Fiat 500 coming soon!


Fiat 500 Ron Arad

Fiat 500 Ron Arad Special Edition!

Fiat 500 Ron Arad
Fiat 500 Ron Arad: Striking in monochrome

Artistic Fiat 500 Ron Arad goes on sale in a limited run

Pity the poor Fiat 500. Its diminutive little body is prime real estate for brands to display their wares. It’s been adorned with designer clobber from Gucci, wrapped in bubblegum pink by Barbie and “denimified” by Diesel in the seven years since it’s been reborn, among others.

But things were looking up for the Fiat 500 when an actual artist turned up with his paintbrush to modify the 500 in his own unique way.

In partnership with Fiat, Ron Arad, an Israeli-born and London-based industrial designer, architect and artist, has developed a limited edition model of the 500 called the Fiat 500 ‘Ron Arad’.

Arad is a life-long fan of the original Fiat 500 and one of his most famous works is called “In Reverse” and consists of six compressed original Fiat 500 cars.

Arad was inspired to design the 500 that would bear his name with the outline graphic of an original 1957 Fiat 500 superimposed on each side of the car’s bodywork.

The result is very striking and unusual in monochrome black and white. The simple outline shows that as small as the modern 500 is, it still absolutely dwarfs the 1950s original.

The Fiat 500 ‘Ron Arad’ is a limited edition model and 200 of them have just gone on sale in the UK. Very arty indeed, but would you drive it?

Caroline Kidd


The Fiat Panda 4x4 is a cheap car for snow driving

Fiat Panda 4x4 Review (2014)

The Fiat Panda 4x4 is a cheap car for snow driving
The Fiat Panda 4x4 is a cheap little off-roader

The Fiat Panda 4x4 has been knocking around for 30 years. Up and down hills with all the attitude of an off-roader. But within the tiny body of a city car. This test drive was always going to be a lot of fun.

The Panda 4x4 is a little bit of an oddity when you see it for the first time. It has the small dimensions of a city car and the innocuous looks of a Fiat Panda. Yet the jacked up appearance of an off-roader. It looks like it has a job to do from the outside and has enough kit to differentiate it from a standard Panda. There are new bumpers with metal-effect inserts, wheel arch extensions, side skirts, black plastic cladding and unique 15” alloy wheels. Two exclusive colours are available: "Sicilia" orange and "Toscana" green metallic, complete with matching interior detailing and all in all, it's a fun-looking package.

Inside the Fiat Panda 4x4

Inside, the onus is more on durability than style and this is reflected in the materials used. Everything is easy to find and use on the dash. But some of the switches feel flimsy. The low window line means that the cabin feels light and airy. There is no height adjustment as standard on the driver's chair so you sit rather upright. Kind of like you are on display for the world to see! There is a good view all around the car. But it would be nice to have the option of adjusting the driver's seat to suit personal requirements.

Fiat Panda 4x4
Inside the Panda 4x4 is more durable than plush

There is plenty of space up front for two adults to sit comfortably. The rear is ok on headroom but there is not so much legroom. There is a small but deep boot of 225 litres and you can let the back seats down to carry larger items. There is no spare wheel and the Panda 4x4 comes with a tyre repair kit.

The compact dimensions and light steering make the Panda 4x4 really easy to park and trundle around town in. You do trundle because the 1.3 litre diesel engine is noisy and lacks a bit of refinement in normal driving conditions. But there is loads of torque in the lower gears - ideal for off-roading. For a small car, the Panda 4x4 can really hold its own out on the motorway too and it will cruise quite happily, all the while sipping diesel.

Driving the Fiat Panda 4x4

But how does it do on the tough stuff? It's won awards for its off-road ability and there is more ability to this car than just what a set of mud and snow tyres can muster. Panda 4x4 is a very practical car for dealing with difficult terrain or challenging road conditions. The car operates in front wheel drive mode during normal driving conditions, but when the vehicle's sensors detect a loss of traction, torque is automatically sent to the rear wheels. According to Fiat, this ‘on-demand’ four wheel drive system will reduce mechanical drag and wear and tear, as well as improve fuel economy and lower emissions. It even has an electronic locking differential (ELD) that directs torque to the wheels with the most grip by braking the slipping wheels.

Fiat Panda 4x4
Panda 4x4 can cope well with the tough stuff

The 1.3 litre diesel has fuel saving start stop as standard. The official economy figure is just over 60mpg. I managed a respectable 53mpg during the test drive, bit more than what you will get in a similar city car with a small petrol engine fitted.  For a car with four wheel drive, the Panda 4x4 is economical. However though it has small car dimensions, it does not have small car CO2 emissions - road tax is €270 per year. Not exorbitant but still, there are cheaper small cars to tax - they don’t have four wheel drive and you can't drive them up a mountain and back down the other side, so it is all relative!

As well as four wheel drive, mud and snow tyres and the ELD, the Panda 4x4 comes kitted with Bluetooth, steering wheel mounted audio controls, air conditioning, 15" alloys, electric front windows and door mirrors, remote central locking, roof rails and front fog lamps.

Would you buy it?

The off-road ability of the Panda 4x4 is attractive. It's still small enough to come down from the hills to nip in and around town comfortably and economically. It’s just a niche buy. Though it’s got 4x4, €20,000 is still a lot of money for someone to fork out for something this small. But if you live on the side of the mountain, when the harsh winter comes you will be glad you have one of these parked outside.

Fiat Panda 4x4
The awesome Fiat Panda 4x4

Model tested: Fiat Panda 4x4
Price: €19,995 (Panda range starts at €11,995)
Engine: 1.3 litre MultiJet, four cylinder turbo diesel
Power: 75bhp
0-100km/h: 14.5 seconds
Economy: 60.1mpg (4.7l/100km)
CO2 emissions: 125g/km
Tax band: B1 (€270 per year)

Caroline Kidd


Fiat 500L

Feeling Very European In The Fiat 500L

Fiat 500L
The new Fiat 500L

The Fiat 500L is Fiat’s five seat MPV that promises to deliver the style of the Fiat 500 city car and the space and versatility of an MPV. It might not be an obvious choice for a young driver but if as part of your lifestyle you often or occasionally need lots of space to carry people, IKEA flat packs or stuff for hobbies (you know adventure sports and that sort of thing), then trust me, the Fiat 500L is worthy of consideration. Here’s why.

If you like to be different you will love the Fiat 500L. It's got a real continental European feel to it and it’s so stylish with curvaceous looks and those big, distinctive round headlamps at the front. It’s a car that really stands out on the road. Add into the mix lots of options for customisation, from changing the roof colour to a choice of cool alloy wheels, and you have an MPV that looks like no other.

Inside the Fiat 500L

The interior is modern and has an attractive finish to it, like the large chunky dials on the well laid out dash to the suede trim on the seats in my Lounge model. You sit high up behind what seems like acres of glass. It’s bright, spacious and you will feel happy just sitting in here. There are large door pockets and lots of little storage places throughout the cabin (22 according to Fiat!).

The rear seats have a fold and tumble function that helps to increase cargo space, and the rear seats can also be slid backwards and forwards.  The boot is large and square with a 400 litre capacity and a wide opening that makes it easy to get things in and out. A space saver spare wheel is included. There is further flexibility in how you would like to use the space in the boot - you can change the level of the floor so that in effect you have two separate storage compartments.

It’s a comfy car and good for long trips. It handles well for a tall MPV if a tiny bit roly poly in the corners. It’s compact enough to make it fun to drive around town and the great visibility all-round is a bonus. There is also a button on the dash that you can press to lighten the steering. This is a brilliant addition and the extra lucidity in the steering makes parking and driving around town easy.

What are my options?

The test car was fitted with a 1.3 litre diesel engine. It’s underpowered and you find yourself scrambling around the gearbox looking for the power a lot out on the open road. It’s fine for sedate drivers and once you get it up to cruising speeds it is quiet and refined - but put your foot down hard to take off and it is quite noisy. The other engine options are a 1.6 litre 105bhp diesel and the 0.9 litre 105bhp TwinAir petrol.

The interior of the new Fiat 500L
The interior of the new Fiat 500L

Though not the fastest or most refined, the 1.3 litre engine does offer good economy with an official economy figure of 67mpg. The engine is also fitted with fuel saving start stop technology as standard. It emits 110g/km of CO2 and will cost €190 to tax in Ireland.

Standard equipment is very good on the Fiat 500L. There are two trim levels – Pop Star and Lounge. On the Pop Star model you get air conditioning, alloy wheels, touchscreen with Bluetooth, six airbags, electric front windows and door mirrors, cruise control, remote central locking, and steering wheel mounted audio controls.

Lounge trim adds a wonderful full length fixed glass roof, rear armrest, fog lights, automatic lights with rain sensors, electric rear windows, rear parking sensors and dualzone climate control. You can spec your 500L with a Lavazza coffee maker built into it for that morning pick-me-up or a Beats by Dr Dre in-car sound system for audiophiles!

Is it any good?

The Fiat 500L will make you smile. For a fun, quirky MPV with lots of space and versatility for all kinds of cargo, the Fiat 500L delivers. It’s got real Italian style and can be specced in a variety of ways to suit the owner’s tastes. It has a lovely bright and spacious interior and comes with lots of equipment as standard.  The Fiat 500L is let down by a narrow choice of engines and the cheap and economical option of the 1.3 litre diesel engine lacks power and refinement.

The 500L is a new MPV from Fiat
The 500L is a new MPV from Fiat

Model tested: Fiat 500L Lounge
Price: €24,075 (Range starts at €21,750)
Engine: 1.3 litre MultiJet, four cylinder turbo diesel
Power: 85bhp
0-100km/h:  14.9 seconds
Economy: 67.2mpg (4.2l/100km)
CO2 emissions:  110g/km
Tax band: A3 (€190 per year)

Caroline Kidd


The 2014 Fiat 500s

2014 Fiat 500S 1.2 Petrol Review

The 2014 Fiat 500s
The 2014 Fiat 500s

Caroline reviews the 2014 Fiat 500.

The Fiat 500 has always been a hit with twentysomethings who love the little Italian city car for its cheeky looks and retro cabin.

It’s been kept fresh over the last six years with an eye-catching colour palette, including new additions like pearl white and matte black, and a steady stream of limited editions that range from Fiat 500 by Gucci to a Barbie bubblegum pink version to 70s kitsch and of course the storming Abarth-tuned versions that turn it into a minuscule rocket.

Then there is the string of famous owners  – Agyness Deyn, Jaime Winstone, Melanie Sykes, Elle McPherson, Jay Leno, Clint Eastwood and Michael Schumacher. It’s safe to say that the Fiat 500 has been a runaway success for the Italian carmaker since the 50s classic was resurrected in 2007.

What's new about the Fiat 500S?

The 500S is yet another addition to the range – but this one has a sporty personality borrowed from cousin Abarth. That means restyled front and rear bumpers, new side skirts, a boot lid mounted rear spoiler, dark chrome detailing, rear privacy glass, a chrome exhaust and special 15" alloy wheels.

The cherry red test car looked great – it’s definitely a car that twentysomething trendsetters will love. But the sporty update is purely cosmetic and under the bonnet there is a harmless 1.2 litre 69bhp petrol engine. Currently the other engine option is an 85bhp TwinAir Turbo petrol .  Fitted with the 1.2 litre engine the Fiat 500s will cost €200 per year to tax in Ireland and the official fuel economy figure is just under 60mpg.

The interior of the 2014 Fiat 500
The interior of the 2014 Fiat 500

The 500S is no racer out on the open road but it’s perfect around town. The small dimensions make parking a doddle. You can nip down narrow streets and through tight spaces like a secret agent on a mission in Turin. There is a button on the dash that can be pressed to lighten the steering even more. Use it for action thriller style parallel parking if that’s your party piece.

It’s not the BEST driving small car you can buy. It suffers from small car twitching out on the open road and never really settles down. So look elsewhere if comfortable motorway sprints are a priority.

But the agility makes it a FUN car to drive. It’s surprisingly grippy in the corners and there is a satisfying feel to the gear change.

The 2014 Fiat 500 interior

Then there is the seducing sophistication wafting from the air vents into the cabin that strikes the right balance between modern simplicity and a nod to the car’s vintage Italian roots. The 2014 Fiat 500 has a special matte silver dashboard panel, snug sports seats with special 500S logo, a flat-bottomed Abarth-design steering wheel with red stitching, and a red and satin chrome gear knob.  It’s quality for a €15,000 car.

The 500S looks tiny from the outside but the cabin is surprisingly roomy up front. It’s perfect for singletons but you can carry a few friends too from time to time – one in the front and two in the back with a squeeze. There are 185 litres of boot space to fit a small suitcase and an overnight bag or a few shopping bags. If more space is needed for perhaps moving house or off to university for the first time, the rear seats have split 50:50 folding.

It’s also well equipped with air conditioning, Blue & Me hands free system with Bluetooth technology, voice recognition, steering wheel controls and USB port connectivity, seven airbags, fuel-saving Start&Stop technology, electric windows and mirrors, and remote central locking as standard.

Is it any good?

This car will put a smile on your face on the dreariest of mornings. For all Dublin’s narrow, cobbled streets and pavement cafes – it’s no Milan – but somehow the Fiat 500S makes driving in town a more fun experience with a splash of colour and Italian flair.

Read another Fiat 500 review here from 2016.

The Fiat 500S is a fun and sporty small car
The Fiat 500S is a fun and sporty small car

Model tested: Fiat 500S
Price: €15,450 (500 range starts at €13,150)
Engine: 1.2 litre petrol
Power: 69bhp
0-100km/h: 12.9 seconds
Economy: 58.9mpg (4.8l/100km)
CO2 emissions:  113g/km
Tax band: A4 (€200 per year)

Caroline Kidd