New Fiat 500
On July 4 2007, exactly 50 years after the launch of the original 500, the new Fiat 500 made its debut in Turin, and went on sale in Italy immediately afterwards. Derived from the Trepiùno concept car that was first shown at the 2004 Geneva Motor Show, the Fiat 500 was designed by the Fiat Style Centre and is built in the plant in Tychy (Poland). It is a 3-door car with compact dimensions: just 355 centimetres long, 163 cm wide, 149 cm tall and with a wheelbase of 230 centimetres. With an attractive shape, the car has minimal overhangs and a very short bonnet. The front combines a family resemblance with the latest Fiat models with the distinctive elements of the original Fiat 500. The waistline slopes slightly at the front and highlights its robustness while the rear end features a large shaped, chrome-plated handle which reiterates the motif of the registration plate light holder on the first Fiat 500. The exterior styling of the new car is set off by twelve bodywork colours. Despite its short length, the 500 boasts an exceptionally good Cd of just 0.325.
The car comes with a choice of three engines which provide good performance but are sparing on fuel and eco-friendly. Drive is through with 5 or 6 speed manual gearboxes, with a Dualogic sequential robotised 5-speed transmission due later. There are two petrol units, the 69bhp 1.2 and the 100bhp 1.4, both from the Fire family. The third engine is the 75bhp 1.3 16v MultiJet turbo diesel. All the engines are Euro 4-compliant and designed to meet the even stricter limitations of future European standards (Euro 5). The 1.3 Multijet is also equipped with a particulate trap (DPF) as standard equipment.
In terms of safety, the new 500 is designed to respect the most stringent standards and is one of the safest cars in its segment, and the first of its size to be awarded the maximum 5 stars in the stringent EuroNCAP crash test. The Fiat 500 is fitted with 7 airbags as standard equipment (two at the front, two curtain-bags, two sidebags and one to protect the driver’s knees). The new 500 also adopts sophisticated technical solutions to guarantee that the driver is in complete control of the car at all times : from ABS complete with EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution), to the sophisticated ESP (Electronic Stability Program) and ASR (Anti Slip Regulation), plus a Hill Holder, to help the driver on hill starts, and HBA (Hydraulic Brake Assistance) which steps in for emergency stops.
In mechanical terms, the Fiat 500 features a conventional layout. The basic chassis is taken from the Panda and uses the same front-mounted transverse engine driving the front wheels. There is an independent MacPherson suspension system at the front, and semi-independent interconnected wheels with a torsion axle at the rear. Braking is disc at he front and drum at the rear, except on the 1.4 which has discs all round.
On the major European markets, the model will be offered with four trim levels (Naked, Pop, Sport and Lounge), three engines, 12 body colours, 9 types of wheel rims (7 of which in alloy) with a choice of 15” and 16” diameter. If one adds all the accessories and personalisation on offer, the Fiat 500 reaches a level of customisation unknown in the car market, with 500,000 possible combinations. These include a range of stickers on the sides, the roof and the bonnet, a variety of chrome-plated elements such as the wing mirrors, bonnet trims or nudge bars plus numerous internal options such as a new ‘fragrance diffuser’ (with a choice of three fragrances), a jacket hanger on the head-restraint, a mobile phone holder or iPod player, USB and 12V sockets, aluminium pedals, the 500 logo on the kick panel of the door, and three types of leather trim for the gear lever knob, to match the steering wheel !
The Fiat 500 also offers the innovative Blue&Me system which includes a hands-free function with Bluetooth interface, voice recognition, USB port, MP3 reader and text message interpreter. And there is a sophisticated Hi-Fi system known as ‘Interscope Sound System’. This optional system was designed and developed specifically for the Fiat 500 and is combined with a radio with a CD and MP3 player. The novelty of the Interscope Sound System is the simultaneous use of three different methods to process the signal In addition to a conventional heater and a manual climate system, the Fiat 500 is also available with a sophisticated climate system that incorporates an electronic control unit, which automatically controls the temperature, air flow, air distribution, compressor engagement and air recirculation. The array of equipment on the new model also includes headlights with a daytime DRL function (Day Running Light), a large glass sunroof (available in either a fixed or an opening version with electric drive) that increases the feeling of space inside and pays tribute to the 500’s famous canvas roof of the 1950s and 1960s, and finally, an electrochromatic mirror that removes the annoying ‘glare’ effect of cars behind.
Inside, the designers paid the utmost attention to detail, while focusing on simplicity, which is the leitmotif of the model. Simple does not mean ‘bare’, but embraces a particular stylistic and constructive interpretation that strives for ‘simplified enjoyment’. The instruments are grouped together in a single unit which contains the speedometer, rev counter and trip computer, all concentric. This element, together with the steering wheel, central console and the radio-air vent unit, can be ordered in ivory or black. Despite its small size, the new 500 is amazingly roomy, thanks to careful design, and can comfortably seat four people. The luggage compartment is also usable, at 185 litres, or a maximum of 550 litres right up to the ceiling. The loading threshold is low to make loading easier, and the rear seat backrest can also be folded down, either in one piece or a 50/50 split depending on the version.
Following its launch in various European markets, the 500 won numerous awards, from press, motoring and design organisations, including the prestigious European Car of the Year 2008, the ninth time Fiat has won that award.
At the 2008 Geneva Motorshow, the 500 Abarth was revealed. See the dedicated page for more information.
One year later, at the 2009 Geneva show, the new 500C was launched. Paying homage to the canvas roof of the original 500, the 500C offers an innovative solution to open-air motoring without the expense, weight and space-loss of traditional convertibles. Retaining the full four seats and all the boot capacity of the standard model, the 500C adds a full length (and width) electrically-operated canvas roof, including the rear window. Available in three different colours (ivory, red and black) the roof slides back and folds itself to remain on top of the bootlid when fully open. The opening can also be stopped at the midway point, allowing for partial opening depending on the occupants wishes. A series of other small details differentiate the 500C from the base model. The windscreen is slightly larger, there are new designs for the seats and alloy wheels, the bootlid has a new opening mechanism and the engines were available with Start&Stop.
2010 saw two new engines arrive in the Fiat 500. Firstly came a new, more powerful derivative of the diesel engine. Still a 1.3 16v turbocharged unit, it now generated 95bhp. More significantly was the introduction of the all new TwinAir engine later in the year. This was a completely new, two-cylinder 900cc turbocharged engine with MultiAir technology and generating 85bhp. As well as low consumption and emissions, the engine brought other advantages due to its low weight and small size. This engine also comes with Start&Stop as standard, as well as a driver-selectable 'ECO' mode which further reduces emissions (and power/torque). It is also available with a robotised gearbox.
2010 also saw another significant launch, that of the Fiat 500 in the North American markets. Re-engineered for those markets, it gained a 1.4 16v MultiAir engine with 101bhp and driving through a 6-speed fully automatic transmission (a revised USA-spec 5-speed manual is also available). Other mechanical revisions include the suspension, which was adapted to specific US market requirements, revised brakes, a larger fuel tank, modified windscreen wipers (front and rear), an enhanced ventilation and climate control system and improved soundproofing of the cabin.
The exterior featured revised front and rear bumpers, plus the regulation orange positioning lights whilst the interior features larger and more comfortable seats also heated, the addition of an armrest, and numerous minor redesigns to satisfy such cultural differences as cupholders, steering wheel mounted controls etc..... The safety features of the US version have also been tweaked to suit that markets regulations. Seven airbags remain standard whilst reactive head restraints have been added and the ESP (or ESC) system modified.
The car for the North American markets will be built in a (Chrysler) factory in Mexico and go on sale at the beginning of 2011.
Driveline transverse engine at front with front wheel drive Engines 1242cc (70.8x78.86mm) 8v 4 cylinder sohc with 69bhp @ 5,500rpm
1368cc (72x84mm) 16v dohc with 100bhp @ 6,000rpm
1248cc (69.6x82mm) 16v 4 cylinder dohc MultiJet turbo diesel with 75bhp @ 4,000rpm
1248cc (69.6x82mm) 16v 4 cylinder dohc MultiJet2 turbo diesel with 95bhp @ 4,000rpm and 200Nm @ 1,500rpm
875cc (80.5x86mm) 8v 2 cylinder TwinAir (MultiAir) turbo with 85bhp @ 5,500rpm and 145Nm @ 1,900rpm
Suspension front : MacPherson strut with telescopic dampers and coil springs plus anti-roll bar
rear : trailing beam
track (front/rear) : 1413mm/1407mm
wheelbase : 2300mm
Brakes front : discs (240mm solid) or discs (257mm ventilated)
rear : drums (180mm) or discs (240mm)
The 1.4 has discs all round
handbrake operating on the rear via a cable
Gearbox 5 (1.2 and 1.3) or 6 (1.4) speed manual
Dualogic sequential semi-automatic clutchless transmission optional
Steering Rack and Pinion with electric power assistance Dimensions Length : 3550mm ; Width : 1650mm ; Height : 1490mm
Click here for a cutaway image of the new 500.
For books on the Fiat 500 see our Online Bookstore
There is also a list of all our picture galleries (including museums, motorshows and various events).
Wallpapers/Desktop Backgrounds of numerous Fiats also available to download.
The official 500 website
New 500 comment form
This car is a return to Fiats roots and will put Fiat back on the map. It looks amazing inside and out. (Miguel, South Africa)
Stunning - surely they will be onto a winner with this model, and the new bravo. Lets hope they have ironed out the bugs. Go Fiat
It is so sweet car because reminds one to the previous model (the legend from the past) but also because of the continuation of the recognizable and famous Italian design. (Branislav, Serbia)
The new Fiat 500 looks a good little fun funky car the interior looks great it has that old look in a new car very retro I think it will be a big seller in England. Fiat always seems to put the fun back into driving especialy in there small cars. (Kev)
I'm glad to see that FIAT is going to build this car. I really like the looks of it. I only wish it were available in the U.S. (Mark, Wisconsin, U.S.A.)
I suppose there isn't enough horsepower for the American market, however it would be a great city car, and I wish it would be sold here. It certainly seems like it is safe. I really like the looks, and the dashboard is sporty.
I have just had the pleasurable experience of seeing an having a seat in the new Fiat 500 VERY IMPRESSED. (Colin, Scotland)
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