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The original Fiat 500 remains a worldwide icon. Its popularity, appeal and influence is similar to that created by the original Beetle and Mini so its only fitting that as the latter models have spawned modern remakes, Fiat planned a
Designed by the Fiat Style Centre, the 500 is essentially a three-door model that bears a strong resemblance to the first car, honouring design cues used 50 years ago. Notable aspects include circular headlamps and a front panel that bears the “whiskers and logo” trademark trim strips and Fiat badge, while the rear features a re-take on the original registration plate light-holder with a wide chrome handle and narrow bumper. Even the canvas roof of the past has been reincarnated, replaced by a panoramic glass unit that can be fixed or fitted with an electric opening mechanism. As a special honour, the 500 is the first Fiat model to feature its own name as a logo, positioned on the wheel hubs and rims. Aided by minimal overhangs and a short bonnet, the 500 measures in at just 3 550 mm long, 1 630 mm wide and 1 490 mm tall, with a wheelbase of 2 300 mm.
The 500 designated for use in South Africa will be powered by a choice of two engines for the three specification levels, a 1,2-litre in the Pop and a 1,4-litre in the Sport and Lounge levels – both Euro IV compliant and designed to meet even-stricter Euro V emissions standards. The 8-valve 1,2-litre produces 51 kW at 5 500 r/min and 102 N.m of torque at 3 000 r/min and mated with a five-speed manual gearbox allows for a top speed of 160 km/h – all the while managing a (claimed) 5,1-litre per 100 km on the combined cycle. The 16-valve 1,4-litre Fire engine produces 73 kW at 6 000 r/min and peak torque of 131 N.m at 4 250 r/min. Mated with a six-speed manual transmission, this is good for a (claimed) zero to 100 km/h sprint of 10,5 seconds and a top speed of 182 km/h.
The safety and driver features are impressive for a car of this size, enough to ensure that the 500 is one of the safest cars in is its segment. All models come standard with seven airbags and sophisticated driver aids like ABS with EBD, seatbelt pre-tensioners, Isofix childseat mountings, Hill Holder, HBA (hydraulic brake assist), ESP (electronic stability programme) and ASR traction control.
Interior comforts include a fragrance diffuser – complete with the choice of three interior fragrances, jacket hanger on the headrests, mobile phone holder that doubles as the iPod dock, USB Port, aluminium pedals, body-coloured facia, text message interpreter (standard on 1,4-litre Sport and Lounge models) and three types of leather for the steering wheel and gear knob.
In spite if its compact dimensions, the 500 offers a considerable amount of interior space thanks to the careful distribution of storage units, such as the two compartments on the facia, hidden compartment on the passenger side, those in the door panels, another in the centre console and one just above the passenger seat. The rear seat can also be folded to allow more storage space than the 185dm3 standard luggage space.
There are no fewer than 500 000 possible combinations for the buyer to customise his/her 500, the most popular being the add-on stickers for the roof and bonnet including a chequered flag to the Italian flag. Chrome-plated elements such as mirror housings and front nudge bar also make an appearance on the options list, which includes niceties like an anti-glare rear-view mirror and Interscope Sound System with CD player and MP3 compatibility.
Fiat 500 1.2 Pop R149 000
Fiat 500 1.4 Lounge R179 000
Fiat 500 1.4 Sport R179 000