2016 Fiat 500 1957 Edition: The Charmer

The breath of fresh air that was the Fiat 500 when in arrived in Canada won the hearts of quite a few people. During the 2012 calendar year, about 8,500 small-car shoppers chose the cheeky little Fiat.

Well, that love affair didn’t last for very long. In 2015, Fiat 500 hatchback sales amounted to just under 3,000 units in Canada. For what can be considered a niche product, this isn’t unusual. Yet FCA is trying to keep the flame alive by cranking out various special-editions of its minicar, including this charming 1957 Edition.

The 1957 moniker obviously refers to the year the Cinquecento was introduced to the world, and this special-edition car is offered in a few pastel colours, including our tester’s Celeste Blu paint. The blue-painted alloy wheels have a chromed rim and centre cap, and they provide a nice retro touch to the car.

The interior is pretty chic, with brown leather seats, a cream dashboard and wheel, as well as a mix of both colours on the door panels. New for 2016 is a Uconnect 5.0 infotainment system, a huge improvement over the previous radio in the Fiat. Still, there are some hard plastic trim pieces spread about the cabin, and their fit is questionable in some areas. Nothing repulsive, though.

Space is more than adequate up front, but the fact that rear-seat occupants, whether they’re adults or children, won’t be very comfortable riding in back will be a surprise to no one. The hatchback’s 269-litre cargo area is a volume we expect from such a small car, although the split seatbacks can be folded down for extra space.

The 2016 Fiat 500 1957 Edition gets the base engine under the hood. That means a 1.4-litre four-cylinder lump that produces a modest 101 horsepower and 97 lb-ft of torque. With the five-speed manual, the car can move along at an acceptable pace, as it weighs in at a scant 2,366 lbs. However, the difference between the manual gearbox and the optional six-speed automatic is significant. The latter makes the little Fiat feel wheezy. If we’re hell-bent on a Cinquecento and need an automatic, maybe the 135-hp turbo engine is worth checking out.

The manual transmission also makes the Fiat more efficient by more than a litre per 100 km. Official ratings are 7.6/5.9 L/100 km city/highway, and we observed an average of 6.8 during our test.

On the complaints list are B-pillars which create blind spots, especially on the left side, and a hard-to-reach washer-fluid filler neck that requires a funnel to avoid spillage when topping it off. The 1957 Edition’s hefty $24,995 base price is off-putting, but then again, no Fiat 500 comes cheap, and that’s probably one of the reasons sales are in a downward spiral. The Cinquecento is above all an emotional choice in the small-car segment, but if we’re willing to spend that much, we’ll get a stylish and enjoyable little runabout.

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