2016 Fiat 500 facelift unveiled: new tech and updated looks

This is the ‘new’ Fiat 500; but it’s not the all-new model you may have been hoping for.  The retro city car gets a raft of styling, cabin and powertrain revisions for 2016, and goes on sale in September 2015 priced from £10,890.

The reveal of the facelift comes at a significant time, as July 4 2015 (tomorrow) is eight years to the day after the reborn 500 was first revealed, and exactly 58 years after the original Fiat ‘Cinquecento’ was first shown to the public.

This later-life refresh aims to breathe new life into the eight-year old 500 before it’s superseded by an all-new car on a new platform, although that’s unlikely to be for another couple of years. Fiat has pulled out all the stops for the facelift, claiming that no less than 1,800 changes have been made to help it compete with the likes of latest MINI hatch and the DS 3

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Fiat 500 facelift: design changes

Fiat hasn’t messed with the resolutely retro formula too much, as exterior styling revisions are minimal.  The main headlamps are redesigned with Xenon units an option, while the halogen daytime running lights are replaced with smarter LED items. A new dual-bar top grille also combines with a tweaked bumper and air intake.  At the back there are new LED lamps with a ring design, while the chrome bumper trim has been moved lower.

Fiat has also extended the 500’s famously bold customisation options with a new bodywork wrapping option. Dubbed ‘Second Skin’, it allows buyers to cover their 500 in some especially vibrant patterns, including everything from military camouflage to tartan, with wrap options extending from simple belt-line graphics to full body coverings. There’s also new alloy wheel designs and a wider variety of colour choices inside and out.

Fiat 500 interior upgrades

Inside the changes are more noticeable, with a refreshed dashboard layout designed around a new five-inch ‘Uconnect’ infotainment screen. On entry-level ‘Pop’ cars it’s a simple system with six-speakers and USB/AUX connection, but on top-spec Lounge models it comes with Bluetooth, DAB, satnav with TomTom’s Live connected traffic services and smartphone integration.

Also, while Pop and mid-range Pop Star spec retain traditional analogue dials, Lounge spec comes with a seven-inch TFT instrument screen that can provide information on driving modes and all the Uconnect functions. Elsewhere in the cabin, there are more upmarket materials and new upholstery options, while seven airbags are now standard across the range.

New engines and lower emissions

All engines have now been tweaked to meet imminent Euro 6 regulations, with the 68bhp 1.2-litre and both versions of the TwinAir 0.9-litre petrols all available with start/stop. The TwinAir, available with 85 or 105bhp, offers CO2 emissions lower than 90g/km in both forms, while the former is capable of up to 74.3mpg combined.

The 1.3-litre Multijet diesel will be available later on in the year and now offers CO2 emissions of 89g/km. Also coming later in the year will be an ‘Eco’ variant of the base 1.2-litre petrol, which sees a smart alternator, aerodynamic bodykit and low rolling resistance tyres fitted to push CO2 emissions under 99g/km. Fiat has also updated the ‘Dualogic’ robotised semi-automatic transmission, which now gets steering column shift paddles.

Fiat also claims engineers have worked on the chassis, based on the previous-generation Panda, to ensure both comfort and handling are improved across the range, although the firm doesn’t specify exactly what has been revised. Also added is extra soundproofing to ensure improved refinement at high speed.

Fiat 500 facelift: prices and specs

Full prices and specs for the new Fiat 500 range will be revealed closer to launch, but we know that prices will open at £10,890. It’s also not clear yet when these changes will transfer over to the racy Abarth models, but we expect those to appear alongside the regular 500 at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show in September.

Do you think Fiat has done enough to keep the 500 competitive with cars like the MINI and Vauxhall Adam? Let us know in the comments below.

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