How much performance does a city car like the Fiat 500 need? In our view, there should be enough low-down eagerness to nip assertively through traffic, and sufficient reserves to keep up with the flow on the occasional trip further afield.

The 1.2-litre, the lowest powered engine in the range, develops just 68bhp and makes for slow getaways from standstill, but can cope with urban roads without too much trouble. Watch out for a slow throttle response, though; you have to be quick on the gas to avoid getting left behind at the lights.

The TwinAir engine is enchanting, but drive it hard and fuel consumption drops off a cliff

Higher up is the 0.9-litre TwinAir producing 83bhp, with the innovative two-cylinder able to hit 107mph. More than that, though, its strong torque and willingness to rev produce enough go to entertain, especially as there’s an intriguingly pleasing soundtrack to go with it. While those looking for a little more poke can opt for the liarier 103bhp version, which can top a heady 117mph. 

At the very top of the ladder sits the Abarth versions. As standard, the 1.4-litre Abarth develops 138bhp at 5500rpm while the Turismo is tweaked to produce 163bhp, but in Competizione form it gets 183bhp and up to 170lb ft. There are no serious mechanical changes to achieve the greater power, but there’s a new air filter and the ECU has been remapped.

Top 5 Superminis

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