Fiat's smallest car -- and the model that sparked the brand's return to North America in 2012 -- carries over into 2019 with no changes. That's not a bad thing: last year's update saw Fiat make its 1.4L turbocharged engine standard across the line, lending this little car more performance and personality at its entry level.
That little turbo motor makes 135 hp and 150 lb-ft of torque in Pop and Lounge trims and comes with a choice of five-speed manual and six-speed automatic transmissions. Optional is the 500 Abarth, powered by a 160 hp/170 lb-ft version of the same engine and riding on a tauter suspension to turn the 500 into a tiny sports car.
At the 500's launch, retro styling and the promise of turbo performance created the impression this car was a direct competitor to the Mini Cooper. However, that German-built car is the sportier of the two by a fair margin while this Fiat trades more heavily on its cute looks. We're sure the Abarth would acquit itself nicely against a Cooper S in a race setting, but it has an odd seating position and the obnoxious sounds that come from its exhaust appeal to a narrower audience.
Instead of comparing the 500 to the Mini Cooper, consider it a stylish step up from more mainstream subcompacts. One thing the 500 offers that most other little cars don't is a convertible body style, which is available in all three trim variants.
Standard kit in Pop trim includes 16-inch alloy wheels, body-colour instrument panel, leather-trimmed steering wheel, air conditioning, 7.0-inch touchscreen with Chrysler's Uconnect infotainment system, power windows and locks and tire pressure monitoring.
Lounge trim adds a customizable digital gauge cluster, automatic climate control, auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated and power-adjustable side mirrors, panoramic sunroof (hatchback only), leather-faced seating and heated front seats.
Abarth trim brings the more potent engine, a sport-tuned suspension, upgraded brakes, sport front seats that can accommodate a racing harness and a flat-bottomed steering wheel.
As we write this, Fiat had yet to publish its fuel consumption estimates for the 500, but they should be the same as (or similar to) last year's figures. For both the 135- and 160-hp engines, those were 8.4/7.0 L/100 km (city/highway) with the manual transmission, and 9.7/7.4 L/100 km with the six-speed automatic.