The inclusion of a standard, or optional, rear-view camera on some of Australia’s smallest cars may be cause for an “interesting cultural discussion”, according to the product and marketing head of Fiat Australia, but the addition of the potentially life saving technology was never part of the “perfect outcome” for the newly updated 2016 Fiat 500.
Zac Loo, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Australia director of product and marketing, told CarAdvice this week that while the 2016 Fiat 500 revisions were about “getting back to the perfect outcome for the vehicle”, plans never did, nor currently do, include adding a rear-view camera to the Italian city car.
“Obviously, there’s always that balance on technology, but on this one, it’s quite an interesting question,” Loo said.
“If you’re just painting a blank canvas, jamming in more technology steps things up, but [the Fiat 500] has a very classic interior and it’s timeless. The question is how do you keep it with the modern times? I think it’s a really nice mesh now, where we’ve got the modern technology you value but it’s not overbearing in the interior.
“So a rear-view camera is one on that spectrum of ‘how far do you go with technology in a car like this’. You could use it – [the 500 Lounge] does have reverse parking sensors – [but] I have to say, you basically just turn around and say, ‘There I am’.”
Although the 3.5-metre-long ‘micro’ Fiat 500 measures 425mm shorter than a Honda Jazz, 401mm shorter than a Volkswagen Polo, and 334mm shorter than a Toyota Yaris, all three light cars come standard with a rear-view camera, even in base form.
And while rear parking sensors are solely reserved for the newly priced $21,000 500 Lounge (the yellow 500 pictured below) – the $18,000 entry-level 500 Pop (the ‘coral’ 500 pictured below) missing out on any reversing aids – base versions of the Jazz and Yaris models start at $14,990.
The base Polo starts at a slightly dearer $16,990, but that, plus the $17,690 mid-spec Mazda 2 Maxx, which received a standard rear-view camera as part of an August 2015 update, undercut even the entry-level Fiat 500.
“Well, I suppose it’s an interesting cultural discussion isn’t it?” Loo said.
“Because obviously, Australia has a very strong preference for cameras – but it’s probably driven more by, let’s say, composition of our market. Whereas globally, that same request isn’t there.
“You go to Europe and very few cars actually have cameras… So there’s a question.
“From us, there’s no plans in the current vehicle to have it. Maybe in the future we’ll look into it.”
Loo told CarAdvice that the 5.0-inch Uconnect infotainment touchscreen (pictured above) newly added to all updated 500s could “theoretically” support FCA’s rear-view camera technology.
Worth noting, too, is that the brand’s ‘ParkView rear back-up camera’ is also standard on the second-tier 500X Pop Star, which features a larger 6.5-inch Uconnect display screen.
“In 500X, it’s a bigger vehicle,” Loo said of the 4.2-metre-long sub-compact SUV.
“Just by the size of the vehicle, rear visibility is diminished, so we do put it into that car. But in a car like [the 500], obviously, visibility is much better – it is a smaller platform than [its Japanese and German light car] competitors.
“Whether or not [a rear-view camera] is an extra ability or a necessity, is still there, but we’ll see where we go…
“For us it’s about the right position for the car.
“The feedback that we’ve used to make all the changes have come straight from our customers and our dealers, in what the customer really wants out of the experience… It’s about delivering the full expectation of what they want when they’re buying a 500.”
What do you think? Does size matter or should rear-view cameras be mandatory, even on some of our market’s most compact offerings? Tell us in the comments section below.