$11,035 - $23,995

2017 FIAT 500 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2017 FIAT 500 was new.


Performance: 6.5

The base engine in the 2017 Fiat 500 may not get your blood pumping, but it will carry you nicely through city streets. If you upgrade to the turbocharged engine, you’ll get increased horsepower and better performance.

Unlike the less powerful base engine, the Abarth’s turbocharged engine gets you better acceleration and offers a more engaging ride with great handling and braking. Fuel economy is good for the class.

  • "The subcompact 2017 Fiat 500 is a pretty lightweight affair, which explains why its 101- horsepower engine actually does a pretty good job of moving this little Italian tomato on wheels. Acceleration and passing power are not going to win over many enthusiasts, but in city driving, the 500 coupe and cabrio zip about quite nicely." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • “While the base 500 is painfully slow under heavy acceleration, the high-octane Abarth offers a zippier driving experience. Unfortunately, those seeking something in the middle might be disappointed because the peppy Turbo model has been discontinued for 2017." -- Edmunds
  • “Even the most basic Fiat 500 is brimming with European personality. All are fun to drive, with the high-performance Abarth being among the most engaging cars in its price class. We especially love that model's throaty exhaust." -- Consumer Guide (2014)

Acceleration and Power

The Fiat 500 come with a 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 101 horsepower. The higher-trim Abarth model comes with a turbocharged version of that engine that produces 160 horsepower. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, and a six-speed automatic is available with all models. According to the EPA, the lower trims get 31 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway. The Abarth trim gets 28 mpg in the city and 33 on the highway. Although the base Fiat 500 zips through city traffic and makes easy sharp turns, it lacks excitement. The Abarth model, however, has faster acceleration and a more powerful engine, which makes for superior highway driving.

  • "The base engine's acceleration is undeniably lackluster. In fact, the 500 is one of the slowest cars on the market. It's a shame that the 500 Turbo was dropped this year, as it effectively split the difference from the sluggish base model and the significantly more engaging Abarth." -- Edmunds
  • "… if you need more than just ‘okay’ acceleration, the 160-horsepower turbocharged Abarth is the 500 for you. From handling to acceleration to braking, the Abarth is superior to the base 500." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • “The 500c's inline-four churns a modest 101 hp and 98 lb-ft of torque. But coupled with this convertible's light weight, acceleration is zippy." -- Popular Mechanics (2012)

Alternative Fuels/Charging

The 2017 Fiat 500e electric vehicle is only available in select markets. It gets 121 mpg-e in the city and 103 mpg-e on the highway and has an 84-mile range, according to the EPA. The 500e recharges in about 24 hours when its on-board charging module is connected to a standard 110-volt outlet. Hook it up to a 220-volt outlet and charge time drops to less than four hours. Inside the car, a 7-inch instrument cluster displays full-color graphics to show vehicle functions, charge levels, and a trip summary.

Handling and Braking

The Fiat 500 handles handle nicely around tight turns, and thanks to its compact size, you’ll rarely worry about parking, which makes it perfect for city drivers. It will give you a peppy, spirited drive in the city, but you’ll be unimpressed when it comes to highway driving. Additionally, some drivers won’t like the lack of steering feedback or its top-heavy feel. The top-level Abarth model has a higher-grade suspension than the lower trims, which makes for better handling and braking.

  • “Any 500 is good fun on a quick errand, thanks to the car's diminutive dimensions and inherently nimble feel, though enthusiasts won't like the somewhat top-heavy feel and significant body roll at the limit. Steering is accurate but lacks feedback, and the Abarth's large 37.6-foot turning diameter is regrettably like that of an SUV, eclipsing the other 500 models by a whopping 7 feet." -- Edmunds
  • "The base-level 500 may look like a barrel of laughs, but it drives mostly like the tall economy car it is. A car as tiny as the 500 is bound to feel nimble, of course, and sure enough this FIAT likes tight spaces, darting through the concrete jungle with sure-footed poise. Get it out on a real road, though, with real curves, and what you notice is the 500's high center of gravity and leaden steering." -- AutoTrader (2016)
  • “The 500's go-kart-like handling allows it to dart through congested traffic, and its mere 140-inch length permits parking in the most unexpected places. The 500's steering is precise with a nicely weighted wheel to help things along." -- Kelley Blue Book (2016)

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