It is very difficult to change a winning formula. Indeed, one must not tamper much with it. “If it ain’t broken, don’t try and fix it” goes the timeless adage. This is why FIAT has long been procrastinating on carrying out any major aesthetic re-touching to the popular city car that since its launch eight years ago, has sold over 1.5 million models. Indeed, the brief to FIAT’s Centro Stile was simple: do not tamper with the 500’s identity.
Logically, few changes have been made to the actual exterior. But on the inside however, the 500 is now much more functional and connected. Works on the new facelift were carried out over the summer and with the fresher temperatures, now comes a fresher and revitalized FIAT 500, ready to conquer more young at heart drivers.
This refresh breathes new life into the FIAT 500. In fact FIAT has carried out no less than 1,800 changes to help the model compete more strongly in the current aggressive market. Besides new infotainment and safety specifications, the popular retro city car got also better in terms of styling, cabin comfort and powertrain revisions.
When it comes to exterior styling, few changes have been made. These include changes to the main headlamps now redesigned with Xenon units while the halogen daytime running lights have been replaced with smarter LED items. A new dual-bar top grille looks neater next to the tweaked bumper and air intake. At the back there are new LED lamps with a ring design, while the chrome bumper trim has been lowered.
Fiat has also extended the 500’s famously bold customisation options with a new bodywork wrapping option known as ‘Second Skin’ where buyers can choose to cover their 500 in vibrant patterns and wrap options – from simple belt-line graphics to full body coverings. There are also new alloy wheel designs and a wider variety of colour choices inside and out.
Inside, the changes are more noticeable, with a refreshed dashboard layout designed around a new five-inch ‘Uconnect’ infotainment screen. On entry-level ‘Pop’ cars it is a simple system with six-speakers and USB/AUX connection, but on top-spec Lounge models it comes with Bluetooth, DAB, satnav with TomTom’s Live connected traffic services and smartphone integration.
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The cabin also features more upmarket materials and new upholstery options, while seven airbags are now standard across the whole range.
With regards to engines, these have all been tweaked to meet imminent Euro 6 regulations, with the 69bhp 1.2-litre and both versions of the TwinAir 0.9-litre petrol all available with start/stop. The TwinAir, available with 85 or 105bhp, offers CO2 emissions lower than 90g/km in both forms, while the former is capable of up to 74.3mpg combined.
The 1.3-litre Multijet diesel, which will be available later on in the year, offers CO2 emissions of 89g/km. An ‘Eco’ variant of the base 1.2-litre petrol will also be available. This will see a smart alternator, aerodynamic body kit and low rolling resistance tyres fitted to push CO2 emissions under 99g/km. Fiat has also updated the ‘Dualogic’ robotised semi-automatic transmission, which now gets steering column shift paddles.
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Fiat also worked on the chassis, based on the previous-generation Panda, to ensure both comfort and handling are improved across the range and has also added extra soundproofing to ensure improved refinement at high speed.
Extra features that come as standard include LED daytime running lights, stop/start, electric windows and mirrors as well as a multi-function steering wheel. The 500 Lounge model also comes fitted with panoramic roof, touchscreen with Bluetooth, rear parking sensors and further chrome detailing.
Just this month, the FIAT 500 reached the 1.5 million unit milestone in Europe with the landmark car in question, a white 1.2 Pop, rolling off the production line in Tychy, Poland, destined for its new owner in France. Throughout these years since its launch in 2007, the FIAT 500 managed to garner over 40 international awards including the prestigious European Car of The Year accolade in 2008. It is now on sale in more than 100 countries around the world, from Japan to North America.