Fiat promises a refresh for its charismatic city car in July 2015

Fiat will unveil a new model of it's hugely popular 500 city car on July 4.

The timing is significant, in that it is the date that the original 500 city car was launched in 1957, and also the day when the modern version was unveiled in 2007. The 500 has been a massive success for the Italian manufacturer and is offered across the world, proving popular in Europe, Asia and the USA.

The current model, which shares a platform with the Ford Ka, launched eight years ago as a premium city car offering, with the emphasis on its distinctive looks rather than dynamic appeal. Combined with well-judged pricing, the 500 has broad appeal and some of the strongest residual values in its segment.

The 500 has spawned a family of products in addition to the original three-door model. The soft top 500C was first, followed by the more practical five-door 500L which offers space for a small family. A rugged Trekking version beefed up the looks a little to cash in on the trend for compact SUVs, although the recently introduced 500X does a far more convincing job. The compact seven-seat 500L MPW is the final model in the line-up, bringing the total number of 500 models to six.

The last tweaks for the 500 were in 2014 when a digital dashboard, engine improvements and trim tweaks kept it competitive with rivals.

It is unlikely there will be huge external changes this time around either, other than to tweak the appearance to better align it with the 500X. Internally, it is likely that cabin will be restyled to accomodate the smart, 5.0-inch touchscreen infotainment set up used in the small SUV too, and introduce some of the better quality materials which make the 500X cabin such a nice place to be. 

The new Fiat 500 is likely to make its public debut at the Frankfurt motor show in September 2015. 

Get the latest car news, reviews and galleries from Autocar direct to your inbox every week. Enter your email address below:

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

Join the debate

Comments
6

11 June 2015
After 8 years, a full model change is due surely? The BMW Mini is now in its third guise, so I would expect Fiat to do something similar ie change the platform and powertrains while keeping a similar body appearance to the outgoing model. If Fiat hasn't learnt enough in eight years to justify major engineering changes, then it's not keeping pace with its competitors.

11 June 2015
Just another light facelift, apparently. This car presents a real dilemma for FCA. It has been a teriffic success, based largely (solely?) on its cute looks. It is not particularly practical, nor is it a driver's car, in any real sense. The twinair engine may have been novel, but it is nowhere as economical in real world driving as the official figures indicated. Compare the 500's (lack of) development with the Mini:the new, third generation, F56 Mini is a great car, quantifiably better in almost every respect than its predecessors, yet many comments seem to focus on the fact that it is less pretty and now too big (the "Maxi" jibe). I understand that the growth in size was, in part, required by crash and pedestrian safety legislation. The F56's development made financial sense because its platform does/will underpin a number different Mini and BMW 2 Series derivatives. of So, what does Fiat do? It appears that they will just keep trying to wring as much profit out of the 500 until it finally falls, either out of fashion or foul of increasingly strict safety legislation. At least the 500X is a genuinely new model that might provide a basis for a wider range: how about a new 600 to replace the Punto, based on the 500X but without the (faux) off road addenda? (This would have made more sense if they had called the donor car 600X.)

11 June 2015
If Fiat can resist the temptation to meddle too much with their existing perfectly formed shape and detailing, that will be good. We don't want bloated bodywork, or oversized lights to spoil things. I have always thought the lower spec ones look best (e.g. sensible wheels) and are most true to original form. I wouldn't think the target market for this car will be too bothered by new platforms etc, but they will be interested its nice friendly looks being preserved.

11 June 2015
Adrian987 wrote:

If Fiat can resist the temptation to meddle too much with their existing perfectly formed shape and detailing, that will be good. We don't want bloated bodywork, or oversized lights to spoil things. I have always thought the lower spec ones look best (e.g. sensible wheels) and are most true to original form. I wouldn't think the target market for this car will be too bothered by new platforms etc, but they will be interested its nice friendly looks being preserved.

Yes, I agree. Fiat - don't repeat Mini's mistake where what began as a fine styling exercise has become, 3 generations later, a caricature of itself. If Fiat wants to revitalize its range of family cars, it has a large portfolio of interesting '60s family saloons for inspiration - 124, 125, 128 ... An intelligent modern interpretation of these compact, spacious and airy cars could potentially be a credible Golf competitor.

11 June 2015
I have no doubt that the Fiat 500 has driven the cash flows of the company since launch, but they will need to invest heavily to keep it fresh. A light facelift is not going to do the job. If they continue like this, it is just a question of time before it becomes too long in the tooth to be a serious contender.

Fiat is a classic case of a company continuing to underinvest, and with each generation, retreating further and further away from the mainstream. The refreshed Punto, when launched in 2003, was a huge success. It has never been properly redone since, just light facelifts. Similarly, the revised Panda was a huge success, but since then, a completely new one has never been done - all we have seen is facelifts, not a completely new model.

11 June 2015
Without the 500 there would be no Fiat. A rather dangerous situation to be in.
It has to succeed.
To think of the days when Fiat offered a full range of vehicles from class leading Punto, Bravo/a to Coupe.

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Citroën C3 Aircross
    First Drive
    17 October 2017
    The Citroen C3 Aircross has got funky looks and a charming interior, but it's another small SUV, and another dynamic miss. Numb steering is just one thing keeping it from class best
  • Skoda-Karoq 2.0 TDI 4x4
    First Drive
    16 October 2017
    Diesel version of Skoda’s junior SUV is unobtrusive and undemanding, but we’d still go for the silkier petrol version of the Karoq
  • Audi Q7 e-tron
    First Drive
    16 October 2017
    Expensive and flawed but this understated diesel-electric Audi Q7 has a lot to offer
  • Citroën C3
    First Drive
    16 October 2017
    Is the third gen Citroën C3 ‘fresh and different’ enough to take on its supermini rivals? We spend six months with one to find out
  • BMW X3
    First Drive
    15 October 2017
    A satisfying rework of the X3 that usefully improves its handling, cabin finish, space and connectivity to make this BMW a class front-runner again