The covers have officially been pulled off the new 2016 Fiat 500, 58 years to the day the seminal original Cinquecento made its debut. The “new” bit is a slight misnomer, as it’s really a facelift of the outgoing eight-year-old model; still, there are no less than 1,800 changes, so Fiat hasn’t quite been resting on its laurels with its hugely successful retro city car.
Updates to the exterior, we’ve seen before through spyshots of undisguised cars, but here we’ll run through them in detail. Although similar to what came before, both front and rear fascias have been completely revamped; at one end, there are new headlights with “polyelliptical” modules and LED daytime running lights, added chrome detailing and a reshaped lower air intake with chrome trim.
At the other end, Fiat has fitted new ring-shaped tail lights with body-coloured centres, while the rear fog and reverse lights have been moved downwards to sit on either end of a reshaped black or chrome bar. Finishing touches include new 15- and 16-inch diamond-finished alloy wheel designs, as well as new Corallo Red and Opera Burgundy paint finishes.
In addition to the expanded colour palette, there are also new “Second Skin” customisation options – customers can choose between a “Small” version with a geometric ethnic pattern along the beltline, or a “Medium” one that uses the pillars and roof, along with the bonnet and tailgate in some cases. “Lord” tartan, pop deco “Comics,” “Navy” and “Camouflage” schemes are available for the latter.
The interior is dominated by a new five-inch screen connected to a Uconnect infotainment system, flanked by vertical air vents; there’s also an optional seven-inch TFT LCD instrument cluster that replaces the eccentric concentric speedometer and rev counter arrangement fitted as standard. The three-spoke steering wheel has been redesigned as well, with new chrome detailing.
Plus, the new seats get more ergonomic details and have been designed to ease rear seat entry and egress, while a passenger’s side cubbyhole receives a new lid. There’s also added soundproofing in the wheelhouses and firewall.
For now, there are just three trim levels – Pop, Pop Star and Lounge. Standard equipment includes seven airbags, stability control, Bluetooth connectivity, a six-speaker sound system, steering wheel audio controls and Chevron upholstery; moving up to Pop Star grants you chrome-plated door mirrors, manual climate control and vintage-style steel hubcaps.
Top-spec Lounge models throw in a panoramic sunroof, 15-inch alloy wheels, a leather steering wheel, a chrome-plated front grille, Glen plaid upholstery with piping and a Uconnect 5″ Radio Live infotainment system with a touchscreen, access to TuneIn internet radio and Deezer music streaming as well as an eco:Drive app that provides fuel-saving driving tips.
DAB digital radio and TomTom navigation are optional, as are three customisation packs. The latter include the Style package with 16-inch wheels, side mouldings and fog lights, the Cult package with Frau leather upholstery, a seven-inch TFT instrument cluster and gloss black wheels and wing mirrors, as well as a City package with dual-zone auto climate control, parking sensors and an auto-dimming rear view mirror.
The range of engines are the same as before, albeit now Euro 6-compliant – at launch, there’s a 69 PS 1.2 litre four-pot petrol, a 0.9 litre TwinAir turbo two-cylinder petrol in 89 PS and 105 PS flavours (the former is capable of a fuel consumption figure of 3.8 litres per 100 km and sub-90 grams of CO2 emissions per kilometre) as well as a 69 PS 1.2 litre dual-fuel (CNG/petrol) EasyPower mill.
Later on, there will be an Eco version of the 69 PS 1.2 litre inline-four petrol with a smart alternator, an aerodynamic pack and low rolling resistance, as well as a 95 PS 1.3 litre MultiJet turbodiesel. Naturally-aspirated 65 PS TwinAir and 100 PS 1.4 litre four-pot petrol will also be made available in certain markets.
Five- and six-speed manual transmissions are fitted as standard; the oft-criticised Magneti Marelli-sourced five-speed DuoLogic automated manual is still available as an option. Under the skin, the MacPherson strut front suspension and torsion beam rear suspension have been retuned for improved ride and handling.