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Fiat 500 interior, tech and practicality

Comfort and visibility

Front passengers will be fairly comfortable in the Fiat 500. There’s enough headroom for taller occupants, even on cars that have the optional sunroof, and the front seats push far enough back for six footers to fit their legs in.

It’s not all good news, though, as both front occupants might find the lower dashboard intrudes on knee room. Plus, taller drivers might struggle because the seat doesn’t quite adjust low enough and the steering wheel doesn’t adjust for reach. That means you might have to sit fairly upright to be able to reach the wheel once you’ve squeezed your legs in.

Visibility is pretty good, however, mainly thanks to the car’s super-small size. At less than 3.6 metres long, you almost feel like you can reach out and touch the 500’s bumpers, which makes it easy to slot into small parking spaces. Rear parking sensors are standard on mid-range Lounge trim and up.

Standard equipment

Fiat has chopped and changed trim levels for the 500 several times since launching the car, and especially so in the last few years as more special edition models have come and gone.

For 500s built until 2019 the range was broadly divided into Pop, Pop Star, Lounge and sporty-looking S models. Pop models are fairly basic with just a radio and start-stop, while upgraded Pop Star cars get 15-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning and 50/50 split-fold seats.

Cars in Lounge trim built until 2019 include cruise control, a fixed glass roof, rear parking sensors, chrome styling details, a leather steering wheel and a basic five-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth and DAB radio.

S trimmed cars get a sporty body kit along with graphite-coloured alloy wheels and styling details. There’s also an upgraded seven-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

For 2020-through-2022 models, Fiat launched a new Hybrid engine for the 500 along with several higher-end trims including Dolcevita, Rockstar and Launch Edition. It’s worth keeping an eye out for these models as they include desirable colour and fabric combos, along with range-topping features. This period also saw the seven-inch infotainment system become standard on all models except entry-level Pop cars.

In 2023, Fiat dramatically simplified the range to just the standard 500 and the 500 Top trim. Regular models get 15-inch alloys, the seven-inch infotainment system, a fixed sunroof, cruise control and air conditioning. Top adds rear parking sensors, climate control, digital driver's dials and built-in sat nav for the infotainment system.

Infotainment and audio

Basic 500s in Pop trim built until 2021 get a basic radio and no infotainment system. 500s in Lounge trim and Pop models built in 2022 include a small five-inch touchscreen infotainment system with DAB radio and Bluetooth, but no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto connectivity. This system is fiddly, with slow responses, dated graphics and very little space to fit everything on screen, lagging quite a bit behind the best setups in the class.

To get smartphone mirroring in your 500, you’ll need the upgraded seven-inch touchscreen system, which is significantly easier to use than the five-inch version. This was the standard system on top-spec S cars built until 2019, before becoming standard on mid-range Lounge cars in 2020, which were renamed to Connect then Dolcevita in 2021 and 2022 respectively. Finally, in 2023, the seven-inch screen and smartphone mirroring became fully standard across the entire 500 lineup.

You’ll have no problems blasting your favourite tunes in the 500 but there’s little here to impress proper audiophiles – perhaps not surprising considering the car’s affordable nature.

Rear seat space

There’s no getting away from the fact the 500’s back seats are very, very small – that’s the price you have to pay for its easy-to-park dimensions. There are only two seats to begin with – you’ll find three in some versions of the similarly tiny Hyundai i10 and Kia Picanto – and neither spot has much room.

Rear passengers will have to slot their legs either side of the front seatbacks if you have anyone remotely tall sat up front, and the rear footwells are similarly small – even worse if you have the 1.0-litre hybrid model which squeezes a battery under the front passenger seat, stealing even more space from the rear footwell.

You’ll find an Isofix point in both of the rear seats, but it’ll be a real hassle trying to squeeze a child seat back there. Plus, if your child seat has a front supporting leg rather than a top tether, you might struggle to position it on the floor considering how small the footwell is.

Boot space

Sadly, the 500’s boot space isn’t much better. The 185-litre figure is already on the lower end, even in this compact category, and the slanted boot lid means the actual space isn’t as square as you’ll find in a Hyundai i10 or Volkswagen Up.

Nevertheless, if you’re a single buyer or a couple, the 500’s boot is large enough for most day-to-day jobs and, if you fold the rear seats, you can easily get a holiday’s worth of luggage back there.

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