A new six-speed automatic transmission will be the highlight of the updated US-bound Fiat 500 range when it makes its New York auto show debut next week.
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Australia will miss out on the new self-shifting gearbox, however. Currently offered locally tied to a either a five- or six-speed manual or a five-speed semi-automatic Dualogic transmission, Fiat Chrysler Group Australia corporate communications director Karla Leach told CarAdvice the new six-speed auto destined for the US would not be part of our Fiat 500 line-up when the updated model goes on sale in the third quarter of 2014.

"We currently source, and will continue to for the foreseeable future, our Fiat 500s from Europe – and the transmission mentioned is only available on vehicles built for the North American market," Leach said.

Built by Japanese drivetrain specialists Aisin, Fiat says the six-speed auto has been reinforced with more clutch plates and a more robust heat treatment to allow for higher torque capability. Its Sport mode also features fuel-cut upshifts, rev-matching downshifts, brake-assist downshifts, corner gear hold and fast-off gear hold.

Fiat 500 - US six-speed auto - 1

To be optionally available on the previously manual-only 500 Turbo, 500 Abarth and 500 Abarth Cabrio, the new transmission will be joined by a range of updates first seen in European guise at last month's Geneva motor show.

These include a new 7.0-inch TFT instrument display panel with digital speedometer and multi-mode functionality for Eco and Sport settings, Bluetooth audio streaming and a redesigned centre console with an additional USB port and a new cupholder design.

Three new exterior paint colours – Giallo Moderna Perla (modern pearl yellow), Laser Blu (bright metallic blue), and Billet Argento (billet silver) – will also be included when the updated 500 hits US showrooms in July.

The 2014 New York auto show begins on April 18.