PERHAPS confusingly, the Diesel-badged special edition Fiat 500 that has just gone on sale in Australia is powered by the same 1.4-litre petrol engine as the rest of the local line-up.
Resulting from a collaboration between Fiat’s styling centre and the creative team of Italian fashion brand Diesel, the special edition Fiat 500 by Diesel features denim-clad seats and exclusive Diesel Green or Indigo Blue paint finishes.
Limited to 100 units in Australia, the special edition is available at $25,990 with a six-speed manual transmission and $27,990 equipped with Fiat’s five-speed Dualogic automatic and paddle-shifters, representing a $1000 premium over the standard 1.4 Sport.
The car is outwardly differentiated by unique Diesel-badged satin silver-coloured panels on the B-pillars and a rear fascia featuring faux air vents reminiscent of those used for cooling the original 500’s rear-mounted engine.
Also marking out the car’s fashion brand tie-in are special split-rim-style 16-inch alloy wheels with Diesel ‘only the brave’ centre caps, unique silver-coloured, faux-riveted lower front side and rear mouldings plus flared door mirrors.
Inside, Diesel’s brand heritage is reflected in the form of the denim-upholstered seats featuring embroidered Diesel motifs and jeans-style pockets on the outside edges of the front seat bolsters, while logos on the dashboard and gear shifter ice the cake.
Based on top-shelf Lounge specification, the 500 by Diesel’s standard equipment list includes climate-control, electric windows, glass electric sunroof, voice-activated Bluetooth, and Fiat’s Bluetooth-based smartphone integration system, Blue&Me, which is extended to work with the included TomTom portable satellite navigation unit.
As GoAuto has reported, the system – which will become available through the use of compatible aftermarket TomTom hardware on all Fiat 500s, Alfa MiTos and Giuliettas for the 2012 model year – enables access to telephone, media player and trip computer functions via TomTom’s 4.3-inch touch-screen.
Under the bonnet beats the same 1.4 petrol engine used in the standard Australian Fiat 500 hatch and convertible range. Combined fuel consumption is 6.3 litres per 100 kilometres and the unit’s output of 74kW at 6000rpm and 131Nm of torque at 4250rpm provides 0-100km/h acceleration in 10.5 seconds.
Europe has had a long line of special-edition 500s, most recently including a luxurious leather-lined, Gucci-styled variant, a two-tone TwinAir-powered ‘Bicolour’ edition said to be inspired by pop art and 1950s American cars and a convertible version of the 500 by Diesel.
Australian Fiat importer Ateco Automotive’s public affairs manager Edward Rowe told GoAuto that the company would see how the hard-top 500 by Diesel was received before making a decision on other variants such as the convertible.
Clothing and sportswear brands are a popular tie-in with small European cars. Examples of clothing-related limited editions from over the years include the Volkswagen Golf GTI Adidas, Peugeot 106 and 206 Quicksilver, Renault Clio Rip Curl and Lancia Y10 Fila.
Sales of the 500 have been boosted 38.4 per cent by the introduction this year of sporty Abarth versions. Fiat has registered 56 Scorpion-badged cars so far this year, in addition to 135 standard 500s, bringing the total to 191 against 2010’s figure of 138.