Autocar Awards 2022: Fiat 500 wins best small car

Autocar Awards 2022: Fiat 500 wins best small car

We could have given the small car award to the Fiat 500 simply because it was small. It may sound like a low bar, but so many makers of supposedly small cars forget that. As next generations

With cars getting bigger and wider, and hatchbacks being replaced by equivalent but slightly larger SUVs, it’s encouraging to see Fiat still value compact vehicles.

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Our roads don’t get any wider and the size of the 500 is just as useful on the streets of Turin as it is on an English country road. As the world goes electric, an SUV more easily hides a bulky battery pack, but the new 500 shows it doesn’t have to be.

The 500 points the way for small electric cars (and therefore small cars in general). A custom platform means there’s room for a decent battery, giving a usable real-world range of 140 miles (even if that’s a little way from the official 199 miles), and the base Action model is one of the best. most affordable EVs on the market.

What really sets the 500 apart is that it’s really fun to look at and to drive. The old petrol 500, still available as a mild hybrid, was a sales success, not because it was a particularly good car, but because the design was a brilliant reinterpretation of the old classic.

The new one does the same for the electric age: it’s recognizable, it’s retro yet modern, it’s cute and it’s distinctive. It earned Klaus Busse, then vice president of design at Fiat, the Design Hero prize at last year’s Autocar Awards.

Unlike the old 500, the new one is also great to drive. It is a competitive electric car, and its small size and good visibility make it extremely manoeuvrable in the city. It also exceeds expectations on the public road. The highway isn’t its natural habitat, but the 500 can still handle it admirably, but what’s remarkable is that the 500 is also an absolute hoot to drive on a twisty road.

The battery in the floor has banned any top-heavy weight, and the stiff suspension, pointed steering and impressive lateral grip give the response an eager driver wants.

A little more power, some sporty seats, some steering feel and a more playful balance would make a very convincing warm hatch. It’s clear that Fiat is now run by people who love cars, as brand boss Olivier François confirmed that they are working on an Abarth version. Can we see an electric affordable driver’s car in a few years? It would be time.