2009 Fiat 500 Lounge 1.2 petrol
Reputation-restoring excellence for Fiat
Clutch needed replacement at 67000 miles.
Occasional ECU warning messages needed resetting.
Wheel cylinder replaced after a leak at 52500 miles.
Rear lens cluster needed replacing because of water ingress.
Rear bulbs tend to blow more often than in most cars.
I bought this car to use as my driving school vehicle. This is possibly the toughest role for any small car today. Fiats do not have a great reputation for reliability, but I calculated that the funky styling and great reputation amongst teenagers would win me more business than any unreliability would lose me.
The car is small but well packaged, and drivers of all sizes can get comfortable in it.
The exterior styling is attractive, and far more faithful to the spirit of the original than, say, BMW's bloated take on the Mini. The compact dimensions and small overhangs also mean that the 500 is a very good city car.
The interior is also nicely styled. With the glass roof of the Lounge model, it is an airy and pleasant place to spend time.
The 1.2 engine needs revving hard to deliver any performance, and this affects fuel consumption, which has averaged only 48 MPG in my tenure. Bear in mind that as a 300 miles-per-week driving school car, this is not a bad figure at all.
The car still washes up like brand new inside and out. There are no rattles or squeaks. Very surprising for a Fiat.
The worst part about this car is the ride. It is unsettled and jiggly at low speed, to the extent that it can affect the steering over moderate bumps. It needs far better damping.
To be honest, apart from these points it is hard to fault the 500. I would certainly consider another as a driving school car, and even more as a private car with a much easier life.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 4th May, 2013
Original poster here.
Eventually sold my Fiat 500 at 90,000 miles and replaced it with another Fiat 500 as my driving school car. I chose a low mileage used car this time around.
The Fiat left us with no rust, nothing broken and an almost unimpeachable reliability history.
These are really tough little cars. If you can live with the jiggly ride, highly recommended.