Fiat has rolled out what is likely to be the final update to its ageing 500 hatch, revealed today ahead of the badge’s 58th anniversary tomorrow.
As expected, styling updates for the tiny 2016 Fiat 500 are relatively light-on, limited to revised bumpers and garnish tricks, along with a simple but stylish update to the lighting at both ends.
Up front, that means a subtly larger and LED-ringed look to the lower lights, set above a restyled grille with a wing-like chrome trim, new fog lights and silver mesh finishers. The main lights have also been given a light going-over, but you’d be forgiven for missing the difference.
Lighting changes are more distinct at the rear, where the 500 now boasts a restyled ring-like tail lamp design that appears to take its inspiration from the new Smart Fortwo, a rival in the ‘micro car’ market that the 500 competes in.
Updates in the cabin require a similar level of skill in the ‘spot the difference’ arena, with the one standout change coming in the form of a new integrated infotainment system in the dash.
Framed in a gloss-black housing with large control dials, the compact five-inch touch display replaces the small monochrome display and optional plug-in Tomtom display previously available.
The system is powered by Fiat Chrysler’s Uconnect infotainment platform, offering Bluetooth, aux and USB connectivity.
In top-spec models, there’s also Uconnect Live, offering access to the new Apple Carplay and Android Auto mobile phone connectivity functions - and all of the internet media streaming options that come with them.
There’s also a lightly restyled steering wheel and reshaped vents, along with the large seven-inch instrument cluster display introduced to the range in 2014.
Fiat says it has used new and more ergonomic materials for the seats, and, perhaps more importantly, improvements have also been made to soundproofing throughout the cabin.
Engine options are unchanged internationally, and in Australia that will likely mean a continuation of the current 63kW/145Nm 0.9 litre, 51kW/102Nm 1.2 litre and 74kW/131Nm 1.4 litre petrol engines, along with the more powerful Abarth models.
But, while powertrains carry over, Fiat claims it has tweaked the 500’s suspension package for improved comfort and handling characteristics.
Rounding out the changes to the 500 for 2016 is a new set of accessories - in Europe, at least - which will include a wider range of alloy wheel options, more chrome highlights, a rear roof spoiler and a classic rack at the rear for hauling a few more pieces of luggage.
Fiat has confirmed with CarAdvice that the updated 500 will hit Australia either “very late this year” or early in 2016.
Watch for local specifications and pricing to be revealed closer to that launch window, and catch our earlier news and reviews here.