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Future models - Fiat - 500

Refreshed Fiat 500 uncovered

If it ain’t broke: Fiat has treated its smallest model to a mild facelift with subtle design tweaks and extra tech.

Cheeky Fiat 500 gets range-wide Uconnect, spec and safety upgrades for 2016

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Fiat logo6 Jul 2015

FIAT has unveiled its updated 500 compact hatchback at the company's spiritual headquarters in Turin, revealing a refreshed and lightly restyled model with upgrades to equipment and safety across the board.

Exact specifications are still under final consideration for Australia but no changes have been made to the European engine and transmission line-up, and significant revisions are unlikely ahead of its Australian arrival either late this year or early 2016.

The refresh marks the first facelift to the modern-day Bambino since its global debut in late 2007.

The most significant upgrade to accompany the model changes will be a boost to standard equipment for the entry level Pop, which now has Fiat's Uconnect information and entertainment system and seven airbags.

Fiat says the new range-wide system is easier to use with more features and is centrally mounted in a redesigned dashboard. The more advanced system replaces the previous audio system and brings six speakers as well as steering-wheel controls, USB and auxiliary inputs.

A more widespread use of higher-quality materials and chrome accents are more pleasant to the touch, according to Fiat, while the redesigned seats provide more support and comfort up front.

Upholstery can be specified in nine colours with contrasting “crescent” upper sections and headrest, while higher-spec vehicles have the option of Ivory, Black, Bordeaux or Frau leather.

Fiat says passenger comfort and noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels are further improved with extra sound insulation added to the wheelhouse and bulkhead areas.

Cabin storage has been improved with a lid added to the previously open glovebox, revised centre console with new cup holders and a more conveniently located 12-volt power socket.

The Italian car-maker has been careful to preserve the model's retro aesthetics and exterior changes are mild but notable, with headlights that retain the circular shape but with a more “dynamic appearance” and poly-elliptical modules for improved night vision.

Below the restyled headlights are revised main beam clusters incorporating LED daytime running lights, which complement the headlight circles to recreate the zeros of the iconic 500 model name.

Its revised lower grille houses miniature fog-lights which are flanked by chrome “whiskers” – a feature repeated in the upper-grille section either side of the Fiat bonnet badge.

At the back end, the new 500 has more styling revisions such as the “empty” tail-lights that surround a central body-coloured section with a ring of red light – a feature Fiat describes as resembling an “illuminated tattoo”.

A redesigned rear bumper houses new reverse and fog-lights with a choice of either chrome-effect or black trims. The 2016 versions of the 500 will roll on a choice of 15- or 16-inch wheels.

The Fiat 500's profile is unchanged with the same jelly-mould outline retained from the previous model. Its compact dimensions are also unchanged with length fixed at 3546mm, width at 1630mm and a height of 1490mm.

Australian engine options currently include an entry-level 1.2-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder with 51kW, a 74kW 1.4-litre version or a turbocharged 0.9-litre twin-cylinder with 63kW.

The newly announced European range offers the same engine line-up with the addition of a more powerful version of the TwinAir engine that produces 77kW, but Fiat Chrysler Australia was unable to confirm if the engine is being considered for the local market.

The dinky Fiat has attracted a solid following in Australia with sales consistently sitting about the mid-200s per month and 1394 finding homes to the end of June this year.

FCA Australia group communications and media strategist Andrew Chesterton told GoAuto that with such an iconic design, the Fiat 500 would never be radically redesigned and would continue to attract a strong following in Australia.

“It would be fair to say it's a significant facelift with considerable technology and style upgrades, so we see no reason why it won't be as popular as the current model,” he said.

“With the Fiat 500... a facelift is always going to be more about technology and materials and not really about appearance”.

Fiat has made no mention of an updated high-performance Abarth range of 500-related models, which are currently available alongside the standard 500 range, but an updated version is expected to follow the revised Fiat line-up.

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