ON THE ROAD: FEW cars have as much character as the Fiat 500 - I'd go as far to say as even Disney would struggle to match the iconic city car for charm and personality.

While other manufacturers have brought back old models and given them a makeover or taken an old name and attached it to an altogether new design, few have been able to replicate the success of the little Fiat.

Be you a hairy bloke or demure young lady, I challenge you not to smile as you get behind this piece of automotive genius and press the accelerator for the first time.

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The Northern Echo:

It's most at home around town, as you might expect, with go-kart like steering enabling you to whizz - responsibly I might add - in and out of traffic and around tight corners thanks to the grip on offer.

The suspension is a little firm on the S, but it's never jarring and its low centre of gravity all adds to the overall experience.

The 69hp engine is a game little unit, punching well above its weight and while it's best suited to single carriageways it will more than hold its own on the motorway.

The S comes with sports bumpers, side skirts and a rear spoiler, along with a set of natty alloys to finish off the job.

ON THE INSIDE: THE fashion conscious will love the interior of the 500. A cornerstone of what made this reboot a success, it's designed to be both practical and fun. The 500S features black seats and black roof lining to contrast with the door panels and seat edges. There's also satin graphite detailing on the dash fascia and sports steering wheel. There's plenty of circular action when it comes to the layout and what's not completely round at least has a few curves thrown in.

The seats are comfortable and hold you in place well and vision, as its should be for a car of this size, is good.

The Northern Echo:

WHAT DO YOU GET: THERE'S a full colour instrument display that the driver can reconfigure, while the dashboard features FIAT's new Uconnect 7ins HD LIVE touchscreen which offers tablet-like controls and a high resolution display. Bluetooth, voice recognition, various ways to play your music, DAB radio and a 3D TomTom satellite navigation system are also included. The 500S also includes an exclusive BeatsAudio sound system, with seven speakers, 440 watts output and digital amplifier. Air conditioning and rear parking sensors also come as standard.

HOW PRACTICAL IS IT: PRACTICALITY comes in many forms. This is a small car so it won't be at all practical for some, taller drivers might find it difficult to get comfortable, but my average height was accommodated for. My little ones in the rear didn't complain, but if I had needed to move the seat back to create some more legroom that might not have been the case. Being a three-door, getting into the rear can be problematic and once in there's only room for two. The boot has 185-litres of space which is enough for a few bags of shopping or a couple of weekend holdalls. With seats folded that increases to 474 litres.

RUNNING COSTS: FIAT say it should be possible to get a shade over 60mpg, we managed 44.9mpg. CO2 emissions are 110g/km.