View Full Version : Fiat 500 Dualogic - Long Term reports.

Steve Webb
28-04-08, 21:33
Right, thought I'd organize my ramblings about the new 500 into something a little more structured. So here goes on possibly the worlds first Fiat 500 1.2 8v Lounge Dualogic longterm report.

Steve Webb
28-04-08, 22:11
2 weeks of ownership after a couple of months of trepidation and fingers crossed the 500 is living up to expectations. No rattles, squeaks or unwanted behaviour. The engine seems to be bedding in nicely, it is more eager to spin up than it was when first picked up, and the dualogic gearbox seems to be learning everyday how to change gears more smoothly.

I know the engine is brand new and not run in yet so I wasn't expecting great things on the fuel consumption front, and the first fill up revealed a not brilliant fuel consumption of 41mpg. Not bad, but I'm hoping for better in the coming months.

When the car was picked up the engine felt tight and unwilling to rev with any degree of freeness. Now with 500kms under its belt the car feels completely different, it is much more willing to spin up (only light loads and nothing over 4500rpm at the moment)

The first couple of days with the car showed that although the dualogic gearbox was good, it wasn't particularly smooth. Upshifts could be a little on the jerky side, a little like a newly qualified driver. Things seem to have changed for the better now, whether its down to the engine or just everything losening up after a few miles, the gearbox is most definitely smoother, upshifts are fairly smooth and down shifts, with the built in throttle blip, are bloody good.

If the gearbox does have a flaw, it is its fuzzy logic, yes it learns your driving style to a degree, but unfortunately it sometimes applies what its learn't at the wrong time. The latest incarnation of this flaw was after driving through the local forest, nothing to energetic but the road is very twisty with loads of 2nd gear running. After coming out of the forest and onto straighter roads, the car seemed intent on staying in second gear even when we were running at constant speed in 2nd at 4000rpm!! It was obviously wanting to have some more fun!

Still this is only a small problem, and is easily sorted by just flicking the gear selector up a cog. With the dualogic, unlike the Alfa Selespeed system, if you do this the gearbox changes gear but stays in full auto mode. Nice, if like me you are used to a lazy auto box.

In the forest I also got to see what the handling was like. For a small car it rides on fairly wide rubber. 185 section Energy tyres from Michelin. I'm not sure why they have put such wide tyres on the car, it is not as if it is the sport model, and initial jaunts have shown that the car does follow the camber of the road, and tramline quite alot. Back in the 90's I had a 205 XS (the sporty 1.4 version) and this only had 165 section tyres, which I must say I never really managed to unstick.
One theory is that they are using wider tyres to grab back some of the grip that is lost from using low rolling resistance 'energy' tyres.

The only other blemish on an otherwise perfect start is the large black stripe, it hasn't been applied particularly well and has a couple of air bubbles in it. Not major but thigs like this do annoy!

Well there you go for now,


Steve Webb
19-10-08, 08:37
Been a while since I wrote anything about the 500 so I thought I'd jot a few things down.

The MPG of the little car has been fairly consistent over the past 6 months, I've been being fairly neurotic about keeping track of things, so have a record of all the petrol that has gone into the car. On average a tank gives about 425km or 265miles and gets about 41-42mpg which is not too bad considering that the car spends most of its life in town. When you do get out of town then the mpg really improves. According to the onboard computer I managed over 63mpg on a 40km late night run in the summer, and the last tank, which included some country driving, gave over 47mpg.

The handling of the car seems to have improved with a few miles under the shocks belt. It no longer feels as skittish as it did when brand new, but you can still feel the back end move around a little if you hit a bump mid corner, not great for confidence when pressing on.

The car still feels nice and solid, no rattles, squeaks or unidentified noises. The only worrying thing is that the white steering wheeel does seem to be picking up a little dirt, and does look a little grubby in places. Time to dig out the leather cleaner I fear.

The space inside the car never fails to amaze people, they always think it is tiny inside, and look astounded that I fit. (I'm only 6'2") I had a ride in a new BMW 3 series convertible (with the folding hard top) the other day, and I can honestly say that there was far more room in the 500, for both front and rear passengers than there was in the BMW.

Onto the gearbox, and this seems to have gotten better with age as well. Again the only times you seem to catch the gearbox out are when you are coasting slowly up to a roundabout or junction, it always seems to change gear just as you put your foot down. It also has a problem with the lane heading up to the house, its a small lane, narrow, windy and uphill. As such you need to drive carefully up it, and the car can't decide whether to be in 2nd or 3rd gear.
On the whole the gearbox stays in Eco mode, it changes up just about when you need it to and changes gear so well you tend to forget its a semi-auto.
The Eco button caused the only problem with the car so far. Out and about in the summer, I decided I needed to drive the car like an Italian, and switched the gearbox into standard mode with the push button Eco switch. I didn't notice however that the button didn't pop back up after I pressed it. Cue lots of sweating after a couple of minutes when a transmission warning sign, and drive to dealer message came up on the dashboard!!!
Once I spotted that the switch was stuck in, and had unstuck it, the message went away, and has stayed away.

The only other problem was one of the brake lights, a bulb has gone after only 6 months, and when it goes, you get a warning triangle on the dash, along with a "check brake light" message. A little over the top in my opinion. As we were on our way out, and the rear light unit needs to be unscrewed to swap the bulb, I thought I'd be cheeky and take it back to the dealer to fix, also hoping that they wouldn't charge me for the bulb.
Well they fixed the bulb, and charged me for it, a whole ?1.96, and it looks like they applied an update to something in the car, as now the city driving PAS seems to be the default when you start the car. It never used to do that.

So after 6 months driving, no real problems, great MPG and a car that still draws admiring looks from people out on the street. I'm still lovin the little Fiat.


19-10-08, 09:19
They seem to be growing in popularity round here...I still smile when I see one!

If I needed a small town car the 500 would be sat on my drive now....lovely little car imho.


19-10-08, 10:24
Yup I would love to have one...such a cool little car. I also really like the Fiat Panda. The appeal of the Panda is not quite as obvious but when I saw a well specced one in the flesh at a dealers I thought it looked great.

Steve Webb
10-03-12, 20:33
Been quite a while since I wrote one of these, so after a long journey today I thought I'd better produce a new one.

Well the car is now almost 4 years old and due its first CT (French MOT) in a couple of weeks, its only done just over 18k km so I really can't see it failing on anything.

Over the past few years its consistently been getting 40-45mpg, not brilliant, but then again not too bad for mostly stop-start town driving. I was going to say city driving, but Bergerac is certainly not a city.
On the 300+ km that I drove today the trip computer showed 5.1L /100km or 55mpg which seems a little optimistic, but then again most of it was on 90kph roads which is where the car seems most economical.

One problem has shown itself over the past few months with the very cold weather, and that is the car seems very sensitive to battery voltage. On a couple of occasions this has manifested itself by a strange delay then clunk when turning the key for the first start of the day. Something else that also happened during the cold spell was that the 'Power steering' warning light would illuminate. It was obvious the power steering was working fine, and a quick check online brought up the reason, as the power steering is electric, a low voltage at startup would cause a false error warning. Now the weather has warmed up and the battery is having an easier life, neither problem has reoccurred.

Today the major shortcoming of the car was in full effect, the 1.2 8v engine is pretty gutless, long uphill climbs leave the car feeling lacking in ang grunt whatsoever. Not a major problem as dropping a gear sorts things out, but annoying none the less.

The seats, due to their lack of side support, aren't as comfortable as they could be, sat on the motorway its not an issue but driving down country roads the lack of support shows up after an hour or so. I know the car isn't supposed to be a B road stormer, but a little more support would make life so much better.

On the way back in the dark the pretty dismal lighting caused me to find out that emergency handling in the 500 is actually pretty good. A deer sauntering across the road meant an impromptu elk test was necessary, which the car dealt with brilliantly.
A quick stamp on the brakes and swerve at the same time is never going to be fun when a large unseen animal appears infront of the car travelling at 90kmh , but the car reacted seemlessly feeling solid and under-control all through the manoeuvre. Better lighting could have prevented the heart stopping moment, but at least everyone walked away intact.

So all in all, after 4 years of ownership there have been no major problems, no failures and nothing to complain about, which I suppose is what owning a city car is all about.

11-03-12, 08:09
The delayed start in cold weather, could that be sticky relays in the cold? I get a hint of this in the winter with the Q4.

Good to hear it is still going well.

Steve Webb
15-03-12, 10:29
The clunk at startup could have been something sticking. Not happened since the cold weather so I'm not that fussed.

Just been down and filled it up, the fuel warning light comes on when it thinks the range is down to 125km, which can be a pain, especially when the range is only 707km when its completely full. Even more of a pain is the fact that the car doesn't let you have a proper game of fuel roulette, as once the range gets down to 50km it just goes blank and flashes up 'Find Fuel station'.

Anyway, I topped the tank up with 530km on the odometer and 90km range left. Took a total of 29 liters which works out at 52 mpg. 50% town 50% A roads. Not too shabby at all really.

hf hpe
18-03-12, 15:30
My father have 2004 Panda Dual-logic
we never have problems with the gearbox

the car is almost 200 000km
once we change the clutch, 2 cambelt

the only problem is electrical
the molten low beam pins on the fusebox

Steve Webb
19-03-12, 08:37
I must say the Dual-logic gearbox has behaved perfectly so far, so fingers crossed it stays that way.