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Economical Car Review: Fiat 500 Lounge

The strong sales of BMW's efficient little Mini has resulted in other car makers giving new life to iconic economical cars of the past. Fiat launched a contemporary take on the classic tiny 500 in 2007 and, like the Mini, it is becoming very popular, combining both retro styling with modern luxury and functionality.

Just like the Mini, the original Fiat 500 was a car that ordinary working class people could afford. It was a small, cheap and efficient car. The relaunched model has tried to replicate all the characteristics of the original, including the budget price. This is where the Fiat 500 differs from the Mini. The top of the range 500 is called the Lounge and is only two-thirds the price of the range topping Mini Cooper S.

The Fiat 500 consumes just 6.3 litres per 100 km which places it among the most economical cars. This high fuel mileage is generated by a turbocharged 1.4 litre 4 cylinder petrol engine producing 74 kW of power. Its got reasonable acceleration - 60 mph comes up in 10.5 seconds. Carbon dioxide emissions are 149g per km.

Even though this economical car is very small and light (it weighs only 930kg), safety is very good. It has 7 airbags, stability control and in crash tests achieved a 5 star NCAP rating. The Fiat 500 Lounge has an attractive cabin, with the only notable drawback being rear legroom.

Fiat understand these modern classics are very much a fashion statement and therefore they belive it is important to keep updating the 500 and release a new variant often. With this mind they released a convertible in 2009 and in 2010 they'll launch a station wagon version of the 500.