The historic cinquecento was reborn a few years ago as a two or four cylinder three-door city car with 1.2 diesel or 900 and 1400cc petrol engines.
It quickly became a convertible, a larger family car and more lately a versatile soft-roader, but now its toned up with the arrival of the 500S sub-900cc TwinAir Turbo.
This Sporting version is essentially a retrimmed derivative with sports seats, spoiler, side skirts and chrome exhaust and borrows elements of the more powerful Abarth with red detailing interior trim (below).
This cleverly gives it a stronger performance look without the heavier weight of the insurance premium to go with the Abarth and that must be a good move for many drivers. Now you may think that its all shout with no clout but you’d be wrong.
The lightweight 930kg Fiat 500S packs a useful punch from its 85hp 875cc twin-cylinder engine so long as you stir it along through the five-speed manual gearbox, although another £750 more buys you the Dualogic automatic.
The light clutch and direct conveniently placed lever allow easy and smooth changes up or down to bring about the best power or economy as desired.
Add the effective footbrake and a reasonably biased steering feel and you have a car which is both agile in town and able at speed to communicate good directional feel. It turns tightly but it does not feel twitchy.
Secondary controls are mostly on two stalks for lights and wipers or a few push switches high on the central console below the air conditioning and radio/ CD sound system, which includes Blue&Me and Bluetooth connectivity. There are also USB ports for personal players on the floor central tray.
Oddments room is plentiful but the compartments are on the small side and the boot offers from 185 to 550 litres once the individual back seats are folded nearly flat.
It’s easy to load from the back and while the back seats are best left to children or teenagers, the front pair have good access and room with quite good support around the ribs and in the lower back.
Ride quality is slightly firm, particularly on the optional 16-inch alloys fitted, but its not uncomfortable and while it rolls a bit around corners it stays quite well planted on the road and its handling is fail-safe.
Our test car came with £320 optional stability control system and hill holder, and I thought that should have been standard on a sporting model as it helped with the optional alloys, special paint and navigation preparation to add £1,185 to the standard price, or put another way over 9pc increase in a sector where price is important.
A car as compact and agile as the Fiat 500S means it’s a delight to drive and park in urban areas, easing through traffic and into the smallest spaces helped by good vision to the corners. Good wipers and lights were also welcome for bad conditions.
You could steadily build up speed and maintain it so long as no serious hills were encountered which mean frequent down-changes, and overall I averaged 43mpg without any effort at conservation but helped in part buy the standard Start&Stop ignition cut-out, which worked faultlessly every time.
I think the latest Fiat 500S is a worthwhile addition to the growing line up and for my money it makes more sense that some other derivatives in the series and breathes new life into the sub-brand.
Fiat 500S TwinAir Turbo
Insurance group: 12
Price: £12,760 (as tested £13,945)
Mechanical: Twin cylinder turbo-charged 85hp 875cc engine, 5sp
Max speed: 107mph
Combined mpg: 70.6mpg ( on test 43mpg)
CO2 emissions: 92gkm
BIK rating: 10%
Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles