1996 Fiat Cinquecento S 896cc from UK and Ireland


Cheap to buy, cheap to run, but you get what you pay for!


I replaced the exhaust at 49000 miles at a cost of ~£60.

The head gasket failed at 51000 miles and cost a further £250.

General Comments:

This is a very cheap car both to run and to buy. However, it is a Fiat and the most basic trim of the most basic model so don't expect too much.

One of the most annoying things about the Cinquecento S is the lack of a temperature gauge. There is a red warning light that comes on when the engine is overheating, but that's it. This is probably the reason I ran the car with a ruptured head gasket for so long before noticing, which resulted in warping the cylinder head almost beyond repair.

It's also quite uncomfortable on long journeys and there is very little room in the back, especially with tall drivers.

On the good side, I only paid £1000 for a 6 year old model in good condition with under 50000 miles and running costs are pretty good. I consistently get around 50 mpg with the tiny, yet well tuned, engine.

This car is also a little underpowered with 4 passengers. It takes a long time to get up to motorway speed and runs the engine very hot while you stay there. The cooling system is certainly not adequate for long journeys on sunny days.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 12th February, 2003

29th Apr 2005, 11:42

Afraid you're wrong. Just read through the other reviews. I have two 899 cinqs. Both have overheated and blown their head gaskets. After handbrake problems (clearly a design fault) overheating problems seem the commonest. I wonder how they cope in hot countries like Italy? (OK I know it's a Polish car). REGULARLY check that your radiator cooling fan is working. Once it or its switch (located in the side of the radiator) fails then, come this time of the year, especially in slow traffic after a long run, you're going to be in trouble to the cost of £250+

1996 Fiat Cinquecento Sporting 1.1 from UK and Ireland


A great performer


The alternator needed replacing within a week of purchase.

The handbrake cables broke. The handbrake is still very poor. You need to pull really hard on it to get to to work, and I can drive with it still engaged.

The radiator began to leak after 40,000 miles.

The rear washer motor doesn't work.

General Comments:

The worst aspect about this car was the non-FIAT dealer. Condescending, as they assumed a mere woman could not know anything about cars, they also lied about its service history and its performance in the National Car Test.

Annoying breakages and dealers aside, this is a remarkable car as I have never driven a car with better road handling.

She can handle any road surface well. I have driven her over motorways, bog roads, rutted dirt tracks and up some very steep hills, with no problems.

Its' squat size, high driving position, supportive seats and good visibility make it a perfect touring and first-time car.

The engine is quite lively; so much so it can be a battle to keep it within the speed-limit.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 12th November, 2002

1996 Fiat Cinquecento S 899cc from UK and Ireland


A small, cute challenge, but servicing expensive over time


Front windscreen wipers had to be replaced within 2 months of buying the cinq, not impressive when car was less than a year old. Especially as I had to wait several weeks for replacement parts from Fiat in Italy.

I do not do a high mileage in the cinq as it is not the family's main runner, only 35 thousand miles in five years. However so far I have had to replace the clutch, the alternator, the radiator, the battery, both front and rear brake pads, handbrake cables and the entire exhaust.

I have just had a product recall notice from Fiat as the petrol tanks on some models can apparently develop leaks and needs to be replaced.

The service I had from my local Fiat dealer was so poor that I stopped using them after two services. For example they were careless topping up the battery after service number one so that two miles down the road I was horrified to see huge plumes of steam rising from my bonnet. When I picked up my car after service number two I found a large, fresh scratch in the paintwork beside the handle on the drivers door - the dealership denied all knowledge of this and insisted that it had been there when I brought the car in. Which it hadn't.

General Comments:

I like the cinq's cute looks and still enjoy the drive, although having driven many other cars over the years (Peugeots, Seat Ibiza, Fiat Brava, Vauxhall Astra, Volkswagen Polo) I know that compared to modern superminis the power and handling leave a lot to be desired! The steering is heavy, the gearshift can be awkward and the handbrake is unreliable on steep hills (I know of another cinq owner who has also had this problem).

Fuel economy is good and insurance costs are low.

A different sort of challenge to drive. After five years I'm upgrading to something more reliable, but I'll be sorry to part with my little car, despite all the problems.

If you're thinking of buying one, I'd recommend that you get a full inspection from someone like the RAC or a qualified mechanic before buying.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 23rd April, 2002

17th Jan 2005, 15:16

Hi. I have just got rid of my 1600 LX Escort to buy something cheaper.

My partner thought this was a good buy, it was an L reg Cinquecento 900cc with low mileage, and thought this was just the car for me.

I bought the car on the Wednesday, and by the Sunday of the same week, found that my car was trying to cut out, and so every time I changed gears, it would die on me. I had to call the AA out, and was late for work; not a happy bunny.

As you can imagine, I am horrified to think I sold my old car for £600, and got this! Lovely?

So now I don't trust the car, or the dealer where I bought it from.

He has told me that he will try to fix my problem, but I'm just waiting to see how much he charges, and what else will go wrong.