Fiat 500

21 Mar, 2007 (All day) Chris Thorp

See it here first - Fiat's showroom-ready 500 has arrived!

We can reveal the world's first official pictures and all the details of the Italian company's gorgeous new city car, which looks set to become the hottest model of 2007.

At the Geneva Motor Show in 2004, the Trepiuno concept gave us a clear indication of what we could expect. And Fiat hasn't strayed far from the legendary 500 shape with this production model.

Penned by Fiat Style Centre, the new car is a triumph of pure Italian design. Every line has been carefully crafted to emulate the legendary orig­inal. As with the classic, the fresh car will only be offered with three doors, and it has tiny dimensions. Measuring 355cm long, 165cm wide and 149cm tall, the baby is around the same size as a Citroen C2.

The Fiat 500's size is disguised by its bulging panels, with a cute pronounced crease running down the shoulder. The elegant flat nose features Fiat's latest red badge, flanked by chrome strips. At the rear, the front-engined newcomer has a conventional tailgate to maximise practicality.

A glass roof panel will let plenty of light into the cabin, and buyers will be presented with a huge array of colours and options to customise their car. We reckon the striking red scheme showcased here is sure to be popular.

The positioning of the gearlever on the dash is similar to that of the Panda, while the large panel of coloured trim is remini­scent of the facia in Fiat's old Coupé. The distinctive beige upholstery contrasts with the retro black gearknob, and the large round speedometer also houses a neat electronic read-out.

Rather than a glitzy unveiling at a European motor show, the 500 will be revealed in the metal at a special event on 4 July in Turin. This isn't to mark Independence Day, but instead has been selected because it will be exactly 50 years since Fiat presented the first 500 in the same city.

Aiming to offer similar appeal to the MINI but in a smaller package, the 500 will be launched directly against Ren­ault's new Twingo. The Fiat goes on sale in Italy this summer, although right-hand-drive UK models won't be in dealers here until early next year.

Initially, three engines will be avail-able. These will comprise 69bhp 1.2-litre eight-valve and 100bhp 1.4 16v petrol units and a 75bhp 1.3 16v Multijet turbodiesel, offered with five and six-speed gearboxes.

Future versions are expected to feature Fiat's groundbreaking new two-cylinder motor as well. The 900cc twin powerplant will deliver between 90bhp and 110bhp, and is likely to deliver a 20 per cent improvement in fuel economy over the 1.2-litre ver­sion. Development of the 500 won't stop there, however, as bosses have plans for a drop-top variant, too.

The 500 platform will also be shared with Ford, and is set to form the basis of the blue oval's next-generation Ka. Both models will be built in Poland at the Tychy plant.

Issue 1346
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