Updated Fiat 500 Sport Road Test and Review

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Pros – Trendy Retro styling; great fuel consumption; comfortable seats; Go-Kart like handling; Great engine
Cons – Drivers seat can’t be adjusted down; Fuel economy does fall short of claimed; Poor safety rating

After a trip to Italy, I fell in love with the original Fiat 500 known initially as ‘The Cinquecento’. Introduced by the Fiat Company in July 1957 and produced under this guise until 1975 the model was designed by Dante Giacosa, and the Cinquecento was marketed as a cheap, functional, and economical town car for post-war Italy.

Fast forward exactly 50 years and the Fiat 500 has been given a modern reboot in 2007 and an updated version of this car still exists today. This was possibly the best reincarnation of a classic car to date as the mini was a good attempt for the R53 but years later they have completely lost the plot of what a mini ever was. The Fiat 500 even after 14 years still carries the Italian flare and serves the purpose it was designed for even although it is no longer a “Cheap” option. Fiat has done a decent job of keeping it up to date and in August 2021 announced it has tinkered with its model range to produce four new flavours that sound really tasty: Cult, Connect, Sport and Dolcevita.

Currently all Fiat 500 models are powered by the same 875 cc, two-cylinder turbo-petrol engine that was introduced with the facelift. It produces 62kW at 5 500 rpm and 145 Nm from 1 900 revs, and while that might not sound like much it is more than enough to shove this 930kg baby hatch around with plenty enthusiasm.

I enjoyed the sound of the throaty induction system most when it accelerated spiritedly. Those who have owned two-cylinder motorcycles will be familiar with this adding a lot to this car’s personality.     Fiat sent us a 500 Sport for a week, and it proved to be a more entertaining package than we had anticipated.

We had a great deal of fun driving this car which can turn even the most mundane journey into an enjoyable one. The slick-shifting five-speed manual gearbox that is fitted to the Sport model added to this sensation as did the direct and meaty-feeling electronic steering. Despite its petite dimensions and 16″ wheels, the 500 Sport can easily be thrown around both the Italian coast or Chapman’s peak and despite its short wheelbase it actually rides quite well.

If you do not like changing gears the Dolcevita model is available with Fiat’s MTA gearbox which is essentially an automated manual that requires the driver to lift off the accelerator pedal in-order to change gears. However, after experiencing it I would definitely not recommend it and I also cannot speak to the long term reliability. Best you stick with the manual if possible.

The little two-cylinder engine is meant to be quite economical (30% reduction on the previous 4 Cylinder) with Fiat claiming a combined figure of 4.0 litres per 100 km. However, our car was constantly above the 6.0 l/100km mark albeit with much of the driving being undertaken in urban conditions and without too much consideration for economy. Although when hitting the highway on a longer drive we managed 3.2L/100kms so it definitely favours the open road more than the city traffic with robots.

As mentioned above, the updated Fiat 500 comes in four distinct designations but the Sport model we had on test would almost certainly be our choice. It comes with distinctive 16-inch alloy wheels (which really look big on this little car) as well as model-specific bumper trimmings, side skirts and a rear spoiler.

Review Overview
  • Driving experience
  • Exterior styling
  • Interior look and feel
  • Technology and connectivity
  • Family friendliness
  • Value for money


Priced at R274 900, the Fiat 500 Sport is not the cheapest most practical car that you can buy, but it is certainly one of the most entertaining with the most personality and makes you feel special. If you’re single or a student and living it up, this could be just what you’ve been looking for to match your lifestyle.

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