What is it?
It’s the Fiat 500 hatch, updated for 2014 with a new engine and a fresh range-topping trim level.
Fiat would be crackers to curse the 500 with a full-on facelift; although it’s seven years since the modern 500 was launched, its market share was the same in 2013 as during the car’s first full year on sale. When it comes to styling, the 500 definitely ain’t broke. So cosmetic changes to the existing trim levels are limited to new paintwork, alloy wheel and upholstery choices.
But there is a new flagship 500 in the form of the Cult model. It’s expected to cost around £1500 more than the plushest existing trim, Lounge, when it goes on sale in April.
The premium adds gloss black trim around the rear lights and on the door mirrors (which can be chromed instead at no charge), 16in alloys to replace the Lounge’s 15s, rear parking sensors, seats finished in Frau leather and a colourful new 7-inch TFT screen directly ahead of the driver in place of analogue dials. The Cult model also boasts climate control, which is only included with TwinAir Lounge variants (Lounge four-pots get conventional air-con as standard).
Bigger news for the likes of us is the introduction of a pokier, 104bhp version of the 0.9-litre TwinAir turbo that ekes an extra 20bhp from the tiny trooper of an engine and will be available with all trim levels for a premium of around £700 over the 84bhp variant. Torque remains at 107lb ft, but 0-62bhp takes a second less at 10.0sec and top speed rises by 9mph.
The addition of a sixth gear means claimed extra urban economy improves by 2.2mpg to an impressive 80.7mpg, but the urban cycle uses around 15 per cent more fuel than the lower-powered car at 51.4mpg – a bit of a worry given our road test of the original TwinAir barely managed half its official combined economy figure. The 104bhp model also gets uprated brakes: newly ventilated discs up front and solid discs in place of the 84bhp car’s rear drums.