Re-imagined city car's production appearance exposed in leaked pictures
8 December 2006

The new Fiat 500 supermini has been exposed in production-ready detail in pictures leaked by one of the company’s accessory suppliers. The pictures you’re looking at were discovered circulating the internet earlier this week, and they show ahead of Turin’s official unveiling that the reinterpreted Italian classic will be a close match for the Trepiuno concept that proved so popular at the Geneva motor show two years ago. Fiat will position the new 500 as a value-for-money model to make it much more affordable than the new Mini, according to commercial director Luca de Meo. “We start with a totally different perspective to the Mini,” says de Meo, “the history of the 500 is very different. It was much more a car of the people and cheap transport for Italian families, more than the chic, swinging-60s image of the Mini.”

Although Fiat has yet to reveal pricing ahead of the sales launch at Frankfurt next September, de Mayo said the 500 would be priced between the Panda and Grande Punto. That suggests a starting price of around £8000, rising to at least £11,000 for higher spec versions, but much cheaper than the Mini.

De Meo also hinted at an Abarth version, a hot-hatch model likely to undercut the Mini Cooper S by several thousand pounds.

Despite such keen pricing, de Meo is promising a high quality interior with strong design features. “You will see the link with the original 500, but much better execution.”

At launch the 500 will have a full range of engines, including a diesel, but the body variants will be limited to a three-door only.

Younger buyers hold the secret of success for the 500, so the focus will be on late-teens and early-20s. “The old car means a lot to older buyers, but the car went out of production in the early 1970s and means little to those under 22,” says Meo, “so we have to make a connection with them.”

Fiat was marketing the old car and the 500 name at last week’s Bologna motor show using the same futuristic Barbarella-style display that appeared at Geneva last year, and targeting the 1.2m Italian visitors expected at the show.

Julian Rendell

Our Verdict

Fiat 500

The Fiat 500 is a deserved success story for the brand, offering bags of style, a fine drive and low costs

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