Perhaps you’ve looked down from your 7 passenger SUV and wondered, “What would it be like to drive one of those little cars? Would I feel safe? Would I be comfortable? Would I be able to haul all my stuff around easily?”
The answer is usually yes, and if you’re looking to try a small car for yourself, the 2014 Fiat 500 1957 Edition is a good place to start.
While the 500 has always been high on style, the 1957 Edition cranks it up a notch with a limited, mid-century color palette. You can opt for Bianco (white), or the exclusive Celeste (celestial blue). The Verde Chiaro of my test vehicle was reminiscent of a Thin Mint, with the cream colored roof and mirror caps being the perfect accompanying glass of milk.
Other 1957 touches include 16″ body painted wheels with a large vintage Fiat center cap, brown leather seats with contrasting cream stitching, a cream and brown leather wrapped steering wheel, and cream and brown door panels. The cream metal dash completes the retro cabin.
Powered by a 1.4L inline 4-cylinder engine, good for 101 horsepower and 98 lb/ft of torque, the 2014 Fiat 500 1957 Edition is underpowered for sure. But really, there’s more to driving enjoyment than just raw horsepower. There’s also a five speed manual transmission putting the power to the front wheels and a Sport mode that results in more aggressive steering and throttle setups.
|STATS||Starting Retail Price||As Tested Price||HP / Lb-Ft|
|2014 Fiat 500 1957||$18,500||$21,900||101/98|
|EPA Rating MPG||As Tested MPG|
|Rating: BUY IT!||31/40 Combined 34||Combined 33.4|
Inside the cabin amenities are minimal. Heated seats, a multi-functional steering wheel, USB port, BLUE&ME handsfree communication, and satellite radio are about all you’ll find in terms of creature comforts. The seats are comfortable for long drives, but your position is very upright and the steering wheel only tilts; it does not telescope. Those with longer legs might find the driving position a little uncomfortable.
It’s refreshing to be in a relatively tech free cabin. There is no infotainment screen, no back up camera. There are, however, many, many buttons. The multi-functional steering wheel features stereo controls on the backside, which can be frustrating if you don’t already know this. Finding the right button to set up the BLUE&ME handsfree system took about 10 minutes, and figuring out how to operate the trip computer was another 5 minute task. This minimal tech certainly is maximum complicated.
Safety is a concern with small cars as they can be difficult for other drivers to see. The Fiat comes equipped with advanced multistage front airbags, supplemental front seat-mounted side airbags, side curtain front and rear airbags, driver side knee airbag, and front seat reactive head restraints to keep you as cushioned as possible in the event of a collision.
Though the car is small, visibility from the driver’s seat out is partially obscured by the B-pillar. However, Fiat has helped mitigate that problem by adding an extra piece to the driver’s side mirror.
Behind the seats you get 9.5 cubic feet of space, enough for two overnight bags. Fold the seats down and that space increases to 30.2 cubic feet, although the seats do not fold flat.
Behind the wheel, the Fiat is not the quickest hatch out there by far, but it’s still fun and spunky. Choose the manual to get the most out of those 101 horses, but ignore the suggested shift points. They are programmed for maximum mpgs and do not want you to get into the high revs. Regardless, even when pushing the car to max revs, and max power, it still returned a combined fuel rating very close to the EPA number.
Sport mode firms up the steering nicely, but feedback is minimal. Additionally there was an intermittent buzzing coming from the steering column during my time in the car.
The 1957 Edition comes with a sport tuned suspension that keeps it quick and nimble in the corners, yet still comfortable over broken pavement.
There is some strong competition in the small hatchback segment. The Volkswagen Beetle offers more room and an available diesel engine. The Mini Cooper comes with more horsepower and torque, and a six-speed manual transmission. The Chevy Sonic has two extra doors and an available turbo engine. However, none have the same charm as the 500.
On the TFLcar scale of:
- Buy it!
- Lease it!
- Rent it!
- … or Forget it!
I give the 2014 Fiat 500 1957 Edition a Buy It! It’s not perfect, but it’s still fun, offers great mpgs, and at an as tested price of $21,900, it’s a good value to boot.
Check out this video of the 500’s bad brother, the 2012 Fiat Abarth.