Fiat's new little 500 has real inner booty

The stylish new Fiat 500 has up to 1,900 changes for 2016
The stylish new Fiat 500 has up to 1,900 changes for 2016

Fiat 500 Irish launch

Like the original Mini, the Fiat 500 has always held a special place in my heart. 

I have always loved the cute look, and simple mechanical engineering of both.

Although the original versions of both will always be my preferred choice, the new models have grown on me over the years. 

In 2007, on the 50th anniversary of the launch of the original 500, Fiat introduced a modern twist on an iconic car with the new 500.

With more than 1.5 million units sold across 100 countries, the Italian car maker this week unveiled the second-generation 500.

With global sales figures higher in 2014, than at its 2007 launch, Fiat has decided not to change the exterior look too much.

Instead, it has been fitted with new technologies and a Centro Stile FIAT-refreshed exterior and interior.

Fiat claim that it has made more than 1,900 changes to the first-generation model, yet from the outside it is hard to see where.

The most noticeable differences to the exterior come in the shape of new LED daytime running front lights with improved night vision and extra safety features.

At the rear the little 500 gets what the company calls new ‘empty’ tail lamp clusters, comprised of ring-shaped structures and both the front and rear bumpers also have squarer edges, giving the car a more solid, confident overall shape.

Fiat is also adding two new alloy wheel designs to the eight already available. 

There will also be 16-inch alloys available as a €450 option on Pop models and €300 upgrade option on Pop Star and Lounge models.#

On the inside, the new FIAT 500 also benefits from numerous enhancements, most noticeably in terms of its dashboard design which now integrates the advanced ‘Uconnect’ infotainment across the range. 

The unit is not only easier to read and more intuitive to use, it also improves connectivity and functionality with steering wheel-mounted audio controls and USB/Aux-in ports on all models. 

The Lounge version is equipped with the ‘Uconnect’ five-inch radio LIVE system, which is a touchscreen unit complete with Bluetooth hands-free calling and music streaming, voice recognition and an SMS reader for reading text messages received on compatible telephones. 

It is available as a €350 option on Pop and Pop Star models. DAB digital radio is also available with this unit, costing €100 extra.

There’s a range of more eco-friendly, Euro 6-compliant engines combined with five- and six-speed manual gearboxes or a Dualogic robotised gearbox (depending on the model). 

The engine line-up available at launch include the 1.2 litre 69bhp which will make up the core sales here in Ireland, the TwinAir Turbo 85bhp and 105bhp and the 1.3-litre MultiJet II turbo diesel – Fiat is the only company to offer a diesel in this segment.

The TwinAir Turbo 85bhp engine has a claimed fuel consumption figure of 3.8 litres/ 100 km on the combined cycle with CO2 emissions of 90g/km.

The 1.2-litre 69bhp has a claimed combined fuel efficiency figure of 4.7L/100km and CO2 emissions of 110g/km, while the top-of-the-range TwinAir 105bhp can manage a claimed 4.2L/100km with emissions of 99g/km.

The New FIAT 500 is available with three trim levels and in hatchback and convertible versions. Fiat Ireland hope to shift over 400 units here next year.

Prices for the new Fiat 500 start at €13,450 for the 1.2 69bhp Pop, €14,400 for 1.2 69bhp Pop Star and €15,800 for 1.2 69bhp Lounge.

The range-topping 1.3 MultiJet II 95bhp 500 Lounge cabrio costs a whopping €20,300. We will bring you the complete review when we get behind the wheel for a week-long test drive early next year.

Robbie Farrell