Whether you choose the standard car or convertible, the inside of the Fiat 500 has been just as thoughtfully designed as its outside. A swage of body-coloured plastic sweeps across the centre of the dash, bordered by Bakelite-style switch panels for the ventilation and stereo controls.

Fabrics and colours could all be from the 1950s, but the quality of the construction is not. Fit and finish are very good, although some switches lack the bespoke feel of, say, a Mini's. This is unsurprising; the dash layouts of a Panda and a 500 are virtually the same because they share so much mechanically and electrically.

Nic Cackett

Nic Cackett

Road tester
The steering wheel is too far away from taller drivers and it adjusts for rake only, not reach

There's no shortage of space in the front, but the 500’s design gave engineers a bigger challenge in making room for rear passengers. The 1957 car's roof curved towards the rear to intentionally reduce space behind the front seats, to help differentiate it from the four-seat 600. Even later 500s had rear seats that were only fit for children.

Yet today's car, which is only 3.5 metres long, was designed as a full four-seater from the off, so you sit low in the 500's back pair of chairs, on thin but dense padding, and headroom is still tight. That said, legroom is surprisingly good for a car this short and it's certainly more accommodating than some rivals. Beneath a very small parcel shelf there is a 185-litre boot.

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There are three trim levels to choose from for both the 500 and 500C - Pop, Popstar and Lounge. The entry-level Pop models come with LED day-running-lights, Fiat's Uconnect infotainment system with USB connectivity, and height adjustable steering, while upgrading to the limelight and the Pop Star trim will see the additions of air conditioning and rear splitting seats.

The range-topping Lounge models come with luxuries such as a fixed panel glass roof, rear parking sensors, fog lights, DAB radio and Bluetooth all included as standard.

The Abarth models are a slightly different breed and, as you might expect, come with all the sporting pretensions expected from a hot-hatch-cum-track-day-special. They all come with the same 1.4-litre Tjet engine, but each produce a different output - 143bhp, 163bhp and 178bhp for the 595, Turismo and Competizione respectively.

With the Abarth it’s clear that Fiat wants you to be in no doubt that you’re inside an Abarth 500 rather than a regular Fiat. The general cabin layout is very similar to the normal 500, of course, but in the detailing it’s pure Abarth. At least, what Fiat perceives a modern Abarth to be, and that means bucket seats, alloy pedals, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, a turbo boost gauge/shift indicator and a Sport button on the dash.

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