What is it like on the inside?
The organic shapes and textures of the seats and dash are pretty. They have a comforting familiarity to their 1957 and 2007 ancestors but a refreshing difference to everything else. It’s mostly well finished in here too, though not as expensive feeling as a Mini or Honda e. The flip-down cupholder is especially flimsy.
A cyclops-eye instrument pod normally shows a round power/regeneration meter reminiscent of an old car’s speedo. But you can scroll through other configurations – a map, music, comms, trip computer and so on. The buttons on the two-spoke steering wheel are just that – actual buttons, not annoying little touchpads.
The centre-dash touchscreen is fully connected and pretty much as app-tastic as the Honda’s. The screen has nice definition and logic too, though the interface is a bit fiddly in places. Connecting your phone is easy. It’s 10.25-inches in top-spec cars or 7-inches in mid-spec. Base-spec 500s get an inbuilt mount for your smartphone instead of a screen, which annoyingly points your phone off to the passenger seat.
The climate controls get their own off-screen buttons, hurrah. Below them is a phone cubby with wireless charging, and below these, the PRND buttons. OK, they’re buttons not a lever but if you’ve driven a petrol 500 this is at least where you naturally expect to find the control for going forward or back.
You sit perkily upright on good-looking seats with inadequate thigh support. Unlike the last 500 the steering wheel adjusts for both reach AND rake, which is great, but annoyingly the driver’s seat doesn’t adjust for height unless you spec the £300 ‘Comfort Seats Pack’ or go for the pricey ‘La Prima’ model. It’s a must have if you’re 6ft or just under, otherwise you sit way too high and your view out the windscreen is obscured by the rearview mirror’s chunky mounting.
The doors are big but light enough. The catch is electric but there are physical release levers too. Nowhere for the driver’s left foot, and the dashboard could do with padding (by the gear selections buttons) because you may want to rest your knee against it.
The back seat’s cramped – adults simply will not fit behind the driver, unless either driver or passenger is especially small – and the boot is a mediocre 185 litres. But there’s a lot of storage space around the cabin, on account of the absence of an exhaust pipe tunnel. And in some models you can fold the rear seats 50/50 to carry larger items.