FIAT has revealed the replacement for its characterful little 500 city car, announcing that it has made 1,800 updates to the previous model — although most buyers would be hard-pushed to spot them.
The vehicle in the pictures is almost indistinguishable from its eight-year-old predecessor. And why fix it if it ain’t broke? The outgoing Fiat 500 still sells in growing numbers — 2014 was its most successful year in Britain — so it’s unsurprising that the recipe hasn’t changed much.
Those that loved its cute character before should like the new one even better, thanks to redesigned headlights that appear to have eyelashes. On the top-of-the-range ‘Lounge’-spec models, a chrome bumper strip curves upwards in a cheeky grin.
Spot the difference: how does the new Fiat 500 compare to the 2007 version?
Inside, there’s still a retro feel with a body-coloured dashboard panel and single-cowl speedometer, but tech-wise, the new Fiat 500 has finally joined Generation Z, with a touchscreen, which can control apps on your smartphone.
Fiat boasts that the car’s city-friendly diddy dimensions haven’t altered, unlike rivals such as the Mini that have ballooned in size. This may be a simple cost-saving measure: its underpinnings are little different to those beneath the first modern Fiat 500, which appeared in 2007.
As with the outgoing model, the new Fiat 500 will be available as a hatchback, or as the Fiat 500C, a convertible, with a fabric roof that slides down between the car’s rear pillars, into a folded heap just above the boot.
Entry-level cars in ‘Pop’ trim come with the new touchscreen as standard, as well as steering wheel controls and LED daytime running lights.
Buyers upgrading to ‘Pop Star’ level add air conditioning and 15in alloy wheels, while ‘Lounge’ cars add a panoramic sunroof, rear parking sensors and an improved touchscreen, which can read out your text messages while you’re on the move and offers better integration with smartphones.
The engine line-up remains unchanged. The popular two-cylinder petrol engine is available as an 84bhp version, or higher-powered 104bhp guise. Both emit less than 99g/km of CO2, making them exempt from road tax.
There is also an entry-level 68bhp 1.2-litre petrol engine. A diesel-engine will be added to the line-up at a later date, along with an Eco version of the 1.2-petrol engine that will emit less than 99g/km CO2.
Prices will start at £10,890 — £200 more than the outgoing Fiat 500 — when it arrives in the showrooms on September 5.