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New Fiat 500 hits South African shores


Fiat 500: the ‘great little car’ and emblem of mass motorisation in Italy, of which nearly 3.8 million were sold and which has become firmly established in collective imaginary, was introduced in 1957. Fifty years later, in 2007, Fiat chose to capitalise on that heritage and drive into the future: the new 500 was born and it was an immediate success.

Eight years later, with over 1.5 million sold; the torch is being passed to the New 500 with which Fiat is preparing to take on new market challenges without forgetting its own deep roots. Made by the Centro Stile Fiat, the car has a refreshed exterior and interior design which is unmistakably 500 and even more attractive. It has not grown in size but it is packed with more technology, engine versions and customisation ideas: only in this way can the icon evolve and refine the features which have turned it into a masterpiece even further.

Available in two versions (tin top and convertible), the New 500 will have three trim levels at launch: Pop, Popstar and Lounge. The first includes seven airbags, Uconnect Radio 5” with six speakers, AUX-IN and USB ports, and controls on the steering wheel and LED daytime running lights as standard equipment. The Popstar version adds automatic climate control system. The New 500 Lounge version is even richer featuring additional sophisticated details, like a panoramic glass sunroof, 15” alloy rims, chrome-plated front grille, Uconnect Radio 5” LIVE touchscreen infotainment system and leather steering wheels with controls allowing to integrate a smartphone, use many apps on the onboard system and stay connected.

The engine line-up of the New 500 includes a 0.9 TwinAir engine (65KW or 77KW), In particular, the two-cylinder engines boast record-breaking performance: 90 g/km for the 65 KW engine, 99 for the 77KW. In short, the latest arrival is even more focused on sustainable future mobility.

Audacious and seductive, the New 500 has no fewer than 1900 innovative details, all designed to enhance originality and make its style even more refined at the same time. New are the front headlights with LED daytime running lights, the rear light clusters, the colour palette, the dashboard, the materials: the updates are substantial but loyal to the unmistakable 500 style. Not by chance, the iconic Fiat is the manifest of a new concept of mobility; it is a ‘gentile revolution’ on the world’s roads because it can make apparently opposite values meet.

So, today the New 500 is refreshed under the sign of aesthetic continuity and technological evolution. This is the magical formula of being 500, the only model capable of coherently blending opposites: it is exclusive, yet accessible; it is a global best-seller with a quintessentially Italian heart; it is an elegant product which is also packed with fun. It is very personal although over 1,500,000 units have been sold. What is more, the New 500 combines technology and sentiment to reassert itself as the benchmark in its segment from all points of view.

A concentrate of Italian style

The New 500 is compact: it is 357 centimetres long, 163 centimetres wide , 149 centimetres high and has a 230 centimetre wheelbase. The design of the front and rear ends has been changed while remaining true to itself. The exterior style of the New 500 expresses all the distinctive elements which traditionally characterised the 1950 classic precursor and today reasserts its identity with more complete technical content.

The most obvious reference to the past is in the upper headlights – which are still circular but have a more dynamic slant to convey the look of a more audacious gaze – together with the lower cluster, which combines LED technology for the daytime running lights and the ‘whiskers and badge’ set. Today, the upper headlights implement an innovative polyellptical module for clear night vision and extra safety: its ‘eyes’ are always open on the road. The dipped beam headlights and direction indicators are built into the cluster. The lower light cluster integrates the main beam headlights, the daytime running lights and the LED side lights, which follow its circular profile. The effect graphically reproduces the zeros of 500. The New 500 will stand out even in the dark with its unmistakable traits.

The bonnet has preserved its enveloping shape folding down onto the sides: this typical 500 style element is complemented by the front end with the very harmonious, classic trapezoidal nose sporting the elegant chrome-plated ‘whiskers’. Today, the ribbing is bolder and the auxiliary air vent is a three-dimensional grille with chrome-plated buttons on the Lounge version which adds to the agreeable appearance of the car. At the same time, robustness and strong personality are emphasised by chrome-plated badges which direct the eye to the wheel arches. In this way, the New 500 is even more expressive and has a seductive gaze.

The profile is still soft and round and gives the New 500 a cheeky look that sparks a smile of complicity when tackling congested city traffic, small spaces and frenetic lifestyles. With a characteristic appealing shape, the car has a large side window, minimum overhang and a very short bonnet. What is more, the belt is slightly inclined towards the front enhancing its robustness.

The rear end has a large characteristically shaped chrome-plated handle that is reminiscent of the number plate light of the first Fiat 500 and today fits exclusive new light clusters. It is the only car in its segment to fit ’empty’ light clusters – a ring-shaped structure which lets the body colour transpire from the middle – housing the light modules shaped to follow the sinuous profile of the car body degrading from the rear window to the new bumper. In this manner, light emerges from the body drawing nothing short of a ‘light tattoo’. The rear fog lights and reversing light are arranged underneath at the ends of a black or chrome-plated thin, dynamic-looking grille. This division is functional and guarantees greater light efficiency.

New design alloy rims – 15” and 16”, also diamond-finished – are also available. The colour palette features 13 body paints (seven pastel, one three-coat and five metallised), featuring the new Corallo Red and Opera Burgundy. Two striking black-yellow and black-red variants are also available in combination with ‘Second Skin’, an exclusive customisation offered by the New 500 to satisfy the most different moods and creative needs. Everyone can tailor the 500 they want and dress it with ever new looks. Walking into a dealership will be a bit like walking into a high-end fashion house.

Like a garment, like a second skin

The New 500 offers a further outstanding opportunity which will not cease to surprise and stimulate imagination and flair while respecting the spontaneous congeniality that the iconic Fiat has always triggered. It is called ‘Second Skin’ and it is an exclusive customisation for transferring one’s own personality onto the bodywork and feeling always at ease with Italian made taste and elegance.

Customers can pick the ‘Small’ version, featuring a geometric, trendy ethnic pattern along the belt line, while the ‘Medium’ solution includes pillars and roof – and in some cases also the bonnet and tailgate – with four patterns: ‘Lord’ (classic tartan), ‘Comics’ (pop decoration) in combination with the new two-colour body paintwork, ‘Navy’ (fresh and breezy) and ‘Camouflage’ (fashionably military). Like a tailor-made garment, everyone can express their own personality with a unique, distinctive style with the ‘Second Skin’ collection of the New 500.

Elegance and innovation for timeless interiors

The interiors are all new, starting from the dashboard design: it now integrates the innovative Uconnect infotainment with 5” screen (touchscreen on Lounge) for outstanding visibility, which is harmoniously inserted in a carefully designed, ergonomic whole. As a whole, it is new and high-tech but still unmistakably 500.

The passenger compartment is still enveloping, protective and packed with small details, full of references to the past re-interpreted in a modern key and embellished with exclusive materials. In this perspective, the buttons and dome over the dashboard are redesigned, like the steering wheel: today, the controls are more versatile and complete and the chrome-plated edging adds a precious touch. More in detail, the passenger compartment of the New 500 is the epitome of complete, modern, ergonomic equipment and design inspired by the classic 500.

The steering column is characterised by concentric circle analogue instruments which provide all the necessary information to the driver at a glance: the speed is shown on the outer rim and the odometer is placed underneath. The onboard computer information, with the digital fuel gauge and coolant thermometer, appears in the middle.

Worth mentioning is the innovative instrument panel with 7” TFT display (available on the Lounge Model only), developed in collaboration with Magneti Marelli, the international leader in the design and manufacturing of high-tech automotive systems and components. In detail, the device provides all the necessary information to the driver and expresses, once more, the ‘trend-setting’ spirit of this model, an icon that is always one step ahead.

The driver can monitor the data from the speedometer, odometer and trip computer simultaneously at a glance. Moreover, the central section of the display – sporting an image of the car – can be configured by choosing which trip computer data to show, such as distance travelled, instant fuel consumption, range, trip time. Highly visible are also the warning messages, such as doors open, temperature, etc. and the “GSI” (Gear Shift Indicator) system indicator, which advises when to shift gear to maximise fuel-efficiency by switching on a specific symbol.

This is all perfectly integrated with the Uconnect™ 5” Radio LIVE and Uconnect™ 5” Radio Nav LIVE so that the media player, telephone and navigator can share the same screen. Additionally, the LCD screen shows the Sport button activation signal on the 105 hp 0.9 TwinAir Turbo engine version.

This element together with the central console and the radio-air vent set, may be ivory or black, to enhance the requisite vintage or sporty personality of the car. Incidentally, the new instrument panel of the New 500 is the ideal combination of retro look and modern technology.

New chrome-plated accents stand out on a harmonious whole, which is pleasant to touch and to look at but is practical at the same time: there are plenty of cleverly arranged object compartments and the controls on the steering wheel are standard on all versions. Also standard are the air conditioning system and the novel air vents with parallel fins for accurate air direction and flow rate adjustment.

The upper part of the body conveys sophistication and personality underlined by the central fascia which picks up the body colour, while the lower part is super-functional with capacious new object compartments. The gear lever is positioned on the dashboard for easy operation and looks like a sophisticated mechanical component, with chrome-plated parts and an efficient knob, which can be glossy black or chrome-plated according to the versions. The set of most frequently used buttons is inspired by the warning lights and levers of the classic 500. They are easy to identify and immediate to use.

The upholstery is available in nine colour combinations. Guaranteeing all the comfort you could possibly wish, the new seats are made with even more ergonomic materials and designed to facilitate passenger access to the rear seats. Seats for the for Pop trim level include tone-on-tone Chevron patterns while those for the Lounge version feature Glen plaid with ivory, olive green or coral accents and piping, contrasting head restraints and black or ivory eco-leather crescent. Optional is black, burgundy or tobacco Frau Leather upholstery with 500 logo embroidered on the crescent with contrasting ivory or light blue crescents for the burgundy seats.

The rear seat is very comfortable for two passengers and picks up the design of the front seats. What is more, the upper contour of the backrest emerges from the upper edge to provide more support and shape the backrest more ergonomically and emphasise the actually available space. On the Lounge version, the 50/50 back seat can be split and folded to adapt to all loading needs in the best way.

The new concept upholstery and panels convey the impression of authentic, outstanding quality of the model at a glance. In detail, the door panels are decorated with contrasting upholstery matching the seats and plastic structure integrating a large object compartment and the speakers. Finally, the chrome-plated hook-shaped door handles are reminiscence of a key element of the classic 500.

Furthermore, although small in size, the new model has plenty of room resulting from the clever distribution of object compartments: there are two compartments on the dashboard (one for the driver and one for the passenger), a handy compartment on passenger’s side, now closed by a lid, and compartments on the door panels and on the tunnel. Finally, the boot is generous: 185 litres which can become 550 by folding the rear backrest. Furthermore, the New 500 has a low threshold to facilitate loading objects.

There is something else which you cannot see but which is immediately perceivable and appreciable: the car fits new soundproofing panels in the wheelhouse and firewall making the passenger compartment even more comfortable and silent.

Environmentally friendly engines

The New 500 fits brilliant with fuel-efficient engines which are even more environment-friendly, as demonstrated by the Euro 6 type-approval. Combined with five or six speed mechanical gearboxes or a Dualogic robotised transmission, the engines line-up available at launch include , the Twin Air 65KW or 77 KW.

The TwinAir 0.9 cm3 is available in two versions: 65KW and 77KW. Fuel consumption of the first is equal to 3.8 litres/100 km on the combined cycle with emissions lower than 90 g/km of CO2: this is a remarkable result in terms of eco-sustainability and further proof of the concrete, accessible technological solutions made available by Fiat to a very large audience to provide the best possible benefits for the environment and for the owner’s pocket. In particular, the TwinAir engine stands out as a concrete example of how technology can reduce consumption and emissions, at an affordable price.

It is clear that the New 500 is as dedicated to the environment as its predecessor, which has been chosen for many innovative, sustainable mobility projects especially for its features. Not by chance, fleets of 500 are today the protagonists of car sharing projects in the most important Italian cities: efficient, simple and user-friendly services, which allow to live more aware, shared use experience always under the sign of environmental respect.

Safety and comfort at the top of its segment

The New 500 is also fitted as standard with seven airbags (two front, two window bags, two side bags and one for knee protection) as standard equipment. The new model also employs the most sophisticated technical solutions to ensure that the driver is in perfect control of the car (active safety): ABS with electronic brake distribution (EBD), advanced electronic stability control (ESC), anti-slip regulation (ASR) system, the Hill Holder devices – which help the driver with hill starts – and hydraulic brake assistance (HBA) to help with emergency stops.

The New 500 is also packed with dynamic and comfort properties making it perfect to tackle all journeys comfortably and safely. These qualities are enhanced by the suspension layout: the front system is a McPherson independent configuration, while the rear suspension features interconnected (i.e. semi-independent) wheels with a torsion beam. Based on a Magneti Marelli design, both configurations have been appropriately revised and developed for the new vehicle to ensure great handling and top level driving comfort.

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