I am thinking about buying a Fiat 500 ... for a city car. What do you think?
I think they're unbeatably cool for a city car. Nice and nippy and also dead cheap to run. The price has come way down as well, compared with just a few years ago.
In 2008 the cheapest Fiat 500 was $22,990 plus on-road costs for the Fiat 500 Pop 150 manual; today the cheapest one in the range is the same model but it costs just $15,000 plus on-road costs. That's a 35 per cent reduction in the price. (This means, unfortunately, anyone who bought the car back then is having a depreciation disaster, but this is not as likely to happen to you. It positively scorched the buyers of 2012 models, who paid $22,990 plus on-road costs and now have a car worth about $13k. Ouch.)
The Fiat 500 has unbeatable styling, a five-star safety rating and a five-star green vehicle rating as well. The official fuel number for the base model is 5.1L/100km, so it's cheap to run. If you did 15,000km in a year it would probably cost you about $35-$40 a week in petrol. It takes 95 octane premium unleaded - so you can't use the cheaper e10 fuel in it.
They will try to sting you $500 extra for metallic paint, which seems expensive to me. It's only a four-seater (most cars are five) and it's not made in Italy. It would be easy to assume it's Italian, but it's actually made in - of all places) Poland.
If you want to adjust the steering wheel you only get 'tilt' adjustment (up/down). You don't get 'reach' (in/out). It comes with Bluetooth and iPhone connectivity and voice recognition plus six-speaker audio system. Other than that it's a pretty safe, economical, basic car.
If it was me, I'd be buying the 1.4-litre Fiat 500 S 150. That engine has 50 per cent more power than the 1.2-litre in the Pop 150. It's $1900 more than the Pop 150. (In both cases - the Pop 150 and S 150 - if you want an auto that will cost you another $1500.)
Here is the Fiat 500 current model range and recommended retail prices (not including on-road costs).
FIAT 500 IMAGE GALLERY
I'd compare the Fiat 500 with the not nearly as cool (but more practical) Kia Rio. The Rio you would want is any of the 1.6-litre engine models (the 1.4 is a bit gutless and has a lousy automatic). The Rio has a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty against the Fiat 500's three-year/100,000km warranty. The base model Rio is $15,290, but the cheapest one with the 1.6 engine is the Si 5dr Hatch at $18,990 - so the Rio is a bit more expensive than the Fiat 500 for the one you'd want.
Here is the Kia Rio current model range in the same directly comparable format.
KIA RIO IMAGE GALLERY
BUYING A FIAT 500
My last recommendation is to use a car broker to buy the car. They can usually save you a significant sum - even on comparatively cheap cars like these. More on how the car broker system works. Contact me if you would like me to put you in touch with a good one.
See also my 'how to beat a car dealer' video below.