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Driven: Refreshed Fiat 500 and Abarth range arrives

Pop culture: The Fiat 500 has been given a mid-life update and now starts at $17,000 driveaway for the base Pop manual.

Fiat drops price of Abarth hot hatch as 500 gets reshuffle to $17,000 driveaway

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5 Aug 2014

FIAT has overhauled its 500 and Abarth city hatchback and convertible model range with a mid-life upgrade launched this week, bringing back driveaway pricing – from $17,000 – for all 500 variants and sharpening the value of its top-performing Abarth series, which now starts from $33,500 plus on-road costs.

Both lines now have more standard equipment and greater customisation options, while the fizzy Abarth 595 is available in two fresh specification levels – Turismo and Competizione.

Returning as the Abarth 595, the hottest car in the Italian micro-car range replaces the outgoing – and $1490 more expensive – Abarth Essesse, but retains its performance and adds to the levels of standard equipment.

Its 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine still pumps out 118kW of power and 230Nm of torque, shoving the hard-charging bambino from 0-100km/h in 7.4 seconds on its way to a top speed of 210km/h.

Despite the zippy performance, the new 595 uses only 5.4 litres of fuel per 100km when paired with the standard five-speed manual gearbox, or 5.3L with Fiat’s optional ($2000) Dualogic five-speed electro-mechanical gearbox with steering-mounted paddle shifters.

Available only on the hatch, the entry-level Turismo package brings leather-upholstered Abarth seats and floor mats, Bluetooth mobile phone connectivity and a seven-inch TFT screen to the interior, while 10-spoke alloy wheels over cross-drilled and ventilated disc brakes complement the Abarth bodykit on the outside.

Competizione versions, which are available for both hatch and convertible body styles, replace manual air-conditioning with automatic controls, while diamond-finished alloy wheels are the same size as Turismo hoops but with half as many spokes and wraparound Sabelt seats get extra support bolsters – all for $36,500 plus on-roads in manual hatch form.

The top-spec version also features red brake callipers, titanium-coloured side stripes and a dual-mode Record Monza exhaust system, which allows a quieter note at low revs but more noise at engine speeds above 4000rpm.

Both Abarth grades have a lowered Koni MacPherson strut suspension up front and torsion bar rear with anti-roll bars at each end.

A switchable sport mode increases steering weight and throttle sensitivity as per the previous Essesse variant, but new to the line is a digital G-meter and boost-gauge in the dash-mounted screen.

Abarth models can be dressed up in a choice of six two-tone colour schemes or 11 single-shade options.

Back in June last year when Fiat Chrysler Australia relaunched the 500, it introduced a keen entry point of $14,000 driveaway for the base Pop manual, which has since shifted to $15,000 plus on-road costs.

The new 500 range sees a return of driveaway pricing on all variants with the entry-level Pop kicking off from $17K.

Power for the the 500 range remains the same with three engine choices starting with the normally aspirated 1.2-litre four-cylinder FIRE (fully integrated robotised engine) developing 51kW and 102Nm, and when coupled to a five-speed manual gearbox uses 5.1L/100km.

With the optional ($1500) Dualogic auto, it is even more efficient at 5.0L/100km.

Moving up to the $20,000 500S increases the engine size to 1.4 litres and boosts output to 74kW/131Nm, while fuel consumption also increases to 6.1L/100km with a six-speed manual (Dualogic: 5.8L).

At the top of the 500 pile is the Lounge priced from $23,000 and equipped with the award-winning 0.9-litre turbocharged two-cylinder TwinAir unit that returns just 3.9L/100km on the combined cycle.

The TwinAir engine cannot quite match the 1.4-litre for power at 63kW but maximum torque increases to 145Nm.

Lounge variants are only available with Dualogic auto and benefit from fuel-saving idle-stop technology, which cuts the engine when stationary.

The refreshed 500 range now has 16 new interior customisation options and convertibles have three extra roof colours on offer.

Exterior colour choices have also been extended to 15 with Blue Jelly Bean, Mint Milkshake and Vanilla Ice Cream joining the existing 12 colours.

Previously available Dipintodiblu Blue and Dolce Purple have been renamed Teal Blue and Sweet Purple respectively, while Diva Pink, Mediterranean Blue and Funk White have been discontinued.

Both 500S and Lounge variants also now have the new seven-inch cluster-mounted colour screen as standard, and can display vehicle warnings, entertainment system information and telephone and navigation readouts.

In Eco mode the screen displays efficient driving information and can award the driver with a rating according to their performance, but in Sport mode the screen adapts to show gauges instead.

Entry-level Pop hatch and convertible versions have a leather-clad steering wheel, electric power steering, Bluetooth, a six-speaker sound-system with CD and MP3 player and a range of bi-colour interior themes.

Moving up to the mid-series 500S adds 15-inch alloy wheels in place of steel rims, sporty bodykit, smoked-chrome exterior detailing, sports seats and the switchable sport driving mode.

Top-of-the-range Lounge variants add a sunroof and chrome exterior trim.

Each variant in the 500/Abarth range is equipped with seven airbags, Isofix child restraint mounting points, daytime running lights, electronic brake-force distribution, hill-hold assistance and hard-braking activated hazard lights.

As with the previous Fiat 500 range a wide range of extra customisation features are available, with 14 roof sticker options, a range of body decals and even 12 key decorations.

All 500 variants are available in convertible guise for a $2500 premium, equipped with an automatic transmission only.

An open-roof version of the Abarth 595 is restricted to the top-spec Competizione, which adds only $500 over the price of the hatch.

2014 Fiat 500 driveaway pricing
Pop$17,000
Pop (a)$18,500
Pop convertible (a)$21,000
S$20,000
S (a)$21,500
S convertible (a)$24,000
Lounge (a)$23,000
Lounge convertible (a)$25,500
2014 Abarth 595 pricing*
Turismo$33,500
Turismo (a)$35,500
Competizione$36,500
Competizione (a)$38,500
Competizione convertible (a)$39,000
*Excludes on-road costs.

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