Close this search box.

Lounging Around: 2022 Fiat 500 Lounge Review

Few cars can charm the birds from the trees like the Fiat 500. The spiritual descendant from Dante Giacosa’s original Cinquecento masterpiece for the masses still has all the charm and appeal of the classic Bambina. Today the 500 family is bigger than ever. With the hot Abarth models still going strong and selling well, Fiat have introduced a new entry level version of the 500.

It is called the Fiat 500 lounge and straight off the bat, it gets the thumbs up from this motoring scribe by being epic value for money. The manufacturer sale retail price of $22,990 plus ORC makes it not only the cheapest 500 in years but also one of the most affordable new cars in New Zealand period. This value is also given a boost by the fact the 500 Lounge qualifies for a Government Clean Car Rebate of $2,280. Therefore, you have a new Fiat 500 for $20,710 plus ORC. Great stuff.

So, what do you get for a snip over $20k? Under the bonnet we have a 1.2L four-cylinder petrol engine with 51kW and 102Nm of torque. This is paired to a five-speed Dualogic automatic transmission with manual shift mode sending that power to the front wheels, naturally.

As you would imagine, outright performance is not the name of the game here, with the 500 Lounge taking a leisurely 12.3 seconds to reach 100km/h from a standstill and a top whack of 160km/h.  However, the old mantra of a slow car going fast is more exciting than a fast car going slow certainly rings true here, but more on that in a bit. At 4.8L/100km, the 500’s combined fuel consumption figures mean the Lounge is happy to sip away at the go-juice while churning out an impressive 111g/km of CO2.

On the styling front, it looks pretty much the same as the new 500 always has since Fiat resurrected their most beloved namesake back in 2008. There are subtle changes to the taillight cluster, new look alloys and some interior tweaks.

The folks at Euromarque have added some tasty Fiat 500 decals and Italian flag to my test car which only complement those looks. Apart from that, it’s still very much a case of stylistic déjà vu. Having said that, the incoming all electric 500e will feature some heavy design changes so stay tuned for that.

Hop inside and you sit rather upright and peer across at the classic instrument cluster of rev counter and speedometer house in the same dial. Within these two you have a fuel gauge, odometer, and can cycle through a number of in-car info displays.

Talking of displays, the 500 Lounge gets Fiat’s latest 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system. This is a big step up from Fiat in-car systems of old and offers clear graphics and is actually quite intuitive. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come as standard, as does Bluetooth, voice commands, LED headlights, tyre pressure monitoring, rear parking sensors, a leather wrapped steering wheel, rain sensing wipers and auto headlights.

The Lounge may not have oodles of toys but for this kind of money, it has more than enough, even if some of the switchgear and materials used feel a bit hard and flimsy. If you want a plusher interior couple with some more lavish looking design upgrades and things like auto aircon, leather seats and 16-inch alloys, then you best fork out an extra $3k for the aptly named “Dolce Vita” spec.

As you would probably guess, the 500 Lounge is about city driving and carrying the bare essentials. The boot as a result is offers only 181L of space but you can fold the rear seats flat should you want to. If you fall under the spell of the 500 but still want that extra practicality, why not leave the rear seats flat all the time? The rear seats themselves don’t accommodate everyone but for small children and pets.

Twist the ignition key a fraction clockwise to wake up that 1.2L four pot. No push button start here, its back to the good ol days when it comes to firing up the 500. The five speed Dualogic automatic requires you to flick down into first gear instead of simply slotting it into drive like a conventional auto.

The transmission itself does feel a tad last week when compared to some its modern contemporaries. Up through the gears in Auto mode and there is a slight jerk between shifts on the way up. If you bury the throttle, it becomes more obvious. However, if you lift off between changes, things smooth out.

Most of the time I found myself treating the gearbox like a manual and flicking up and down the gears myself, lifting off between changes. The 500 feels more at home in this setting and it means you can squeeze as much of that 51kW out as possible. Just like the original, the 500 Lounge thrives when you wring its neck, deciding when you want to change rather than the car itself.

The sweet spot is between 1500 to 4000rpm, anything higher and the 500 does run out of puff. However, it isn’t long before you start giggling as you slice and dice your way through inner city Christchurch traffic. Here is where the 500 Lounge enters its happy place.

The soft growl from that four-pot coupled with the eagerness of the steering come together to give a truly joyous way of commuting. This car is fun. It wants to be driven and it wants to be driven well. Chuck it into corners by giving the merest inclination of wanting to go left or right and it does just that. The brakes are good and brings things to a stop quickly and safely.

It can also do 80km/h zones well, though thanks to the lower ratios of fifth gear, the long haul is not its forte Ride comfort is decent given the size and suspension travel but it could be just that little bit softer. Then again you have to really concentrate to notice because the 500 Lounge is such an urban giggle factory, you barely notice.

Factoring in this, the style and the fact you have an Italian icon for $20k, means it is no small wonder examples of the new 500 Lounge are flying out the door. There are still some small issues of quality and the gearbox needs to be refined a bit, but the joy you can have with Fiat’s new entry point 500 more than makes up for that. The 500 Lounge is simply delightful.

RATING: 8/10

Share your love


Support our advertisers

Paying bills

Ads from the Googles

Support our advertisers

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *