The countdown to the local introduction of the Fiat 500 is now well and truly underway and the Durban Motor Show is the first time that Kwazulu-Natalians will have the opportunity to see the European Car of the Year up close and personal before its official launch on 4th July, exactly a year after it debuted in its native Italy.
But, what makes this launch different from any other car launch is the fact that the buying experience is totally unique. You see, you don’t just buy a 500, you create one! It’s for this reason that all Fiat dealerships countrywide are totally geared up to receive orders for your very own personalised 500.
An essential tool in this purchasing process is the Fiat 500 Configurator, which is accessed via the Fiat website (www.fiat.co.za) or you can go directly to www.fiat500.co.za. Now, customisation, personalisation and individualisation are what the Fiat 500 Configurator is all about.
It enables you to enter a virtual showroom and spec the 500 of your choice – inside and out. (Bear in mind that the permutations are virtually endless; you could have 500 000 Cinquecentos in a row and no two would be absolutely identical.) You then get to see your finished product from every angle and in motion.
You have the option to save your creation and give it its very own name. This allows you to revisit your car, make changes or, if you wish, create another unique 500. Should you want to go ahead with the order, you simply give the dealer the name of your preferred 500 as it has been configured in the virtual showroom. Of course, as all sales staff have been fully trained on our new bambino, if you prefer, they will be more than willing to sit with you and help you spec your own 500.
So, to summarise:
- By going to
you can access the Fiat 500 Configurator which allows you to create your very own 500 in a state-of-the-art virtual showroom.
- Revisit your ‘saved’ car on the web – make changes or create another one.
- Place your order with the dealer (provide him with the name of your ‘saved’ car).
- Some commonly asked questions:
What will the local Fiat 500 engine line-up be?
Initially, two petrol engines will be on offer. First up is the tried and tested 1242 cc Fire engine that has undergone a series of refinements designed to make it a champion of fuel economy, but without detracting from performance.
It delivers 51 kW at 5500 rpm and peak torque of 102 Nm at 3000 rpm, with a top speed of 160 km/h. That’s not all. With the 1.2 8v engine, the Fiat 500 leads its class for consumption, delivering 5.1 l/100 km in the combined cycle, with CO2 emissions of 119 g/km. Acceleration to 100 km/h is also excellent at 12.9 seconds. It’s mated to a five-speed manual gearbox.
A highlight of this engine include the adoption of an electronic throttle valve control system known as ‘drive by wire’ (with no mechanical connection between the accelerator and the throttle), while it is the electronic control unit that delivers the torque on the basis of the driver’s demands (torque-based system).
Another interesting feature of this engine where fuel consumption is concerned, is the use of an active knock sensor capable of managing the advance in the best possible way in all conditions and, above all, the multipoint sequential phased injection system by Magneti Marelli.
Next up is the 1.4-litre 16v engine that currently sees service in the jaunty Panda 100HP. With a maximum of 73.5 kW on tap at 6000 rpm and peak torque of 131 Nm at 4250 rpm, performance is excellent: this 500 has a top speed of 182 km/h, and accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 10.5 seconds. It is a sparkling engine with excellent performance enhanced too by an electronic throttle valve control system (‘drive by wire’). A six-speed manual gearbox is standard on the 1.4-litre model.
What will the level of standard equipment be?
In a word – high! Three trim outfits have been selected: Pop, Lounge and Sport. The entry-level Pop spec is exclusively available on the 1.2. Extremely well equipped, standard equipment includes seven airbags (including a driver’s kneebag), ABS with EBD, electric windows and mirrors, remote central locking, height-adjustable driver’s seat, air-conditioning and audio controls on the steering.
The 1.4 versions are available in either Lounge or Sport guise. In Sport trim, 15″ alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, leather ‘Sporting’ steering wheel, Stability Control (ESP), Traction Control (ASR), Hillholder, Sport-specific internal upholstery and colours, as well as Blue&Me (audio and telephone connectivity) are added to the package.
The Lounge outfit is similarly specced to the Sport but features different 15″ alloys and forgoes the rear spoiler for chrome-trimmed details and a fixed glass roof. As with the Sport, this model boasts Lounge-specific internal upholstery and colours.
What options are available?
That’s like asking how long is a piece of string? Remember there are around 500 000 different permutations.
You can, for example, choose from a number of 15″ and 16″ alloy wheel options, decal packages (for the flanks, mirrors and roof), badging and side protective moulding options, additional chrome trimmings (mirrors, gear lever, pedals and front nudge bar), sporty side-skirt package, scuff plate trims, mats, sound system upgrades, key fob covers and even fragrance diffusers.
And, that’s not counting the 12 exterior colour options, including 6 vintage colours that will bring the 1950s and 1960s to mind, plus tri-coat white (called Pearl White) produced by a process that is usually only adopted on luxury cars, as well as the 15 types of upholstery including luxurious Cordura and Frau Leather. Some of the options need to be ordered as factory-fitted items, while others can be specified as aftermarket equipment (eg the key fob covers and fragrance diffusers).
It depends entirely on the customer – they can spec it up as they like. What we can say is that it will be very competitively priced against other premium B-segment offerings. (But the “base versions” should be between R150 000 and R180 000, dependant on exchange rates.)
What makes the Fiat 500 so special?
Well, it would be belittling to ‘limit’ the phenomenon of the new 500 to a simple, nostalgic reinterpretation, a pastiche of some bygone era. Fiat’s goal has not been to simply design a car that ‘looks like’ a 500, but one that ‘could be’ the 500 again i.e. design a car that provides real solutions to everyday motoring problems while wrapping it up in an implausibly evocative package.
- This is the first time that a car has been launched with a full range of engines ready to meet the emissions limits set by Euro 5 standards, more than two years before the legislative deadline, a tangible sign of Fiat’s determination to reaffirm its leadership where the environment is concerned.
- More than 3,000,000 Cinquecento fans submitted their ideas to the project, through the www.500wantsyou.com website.This initiative is a new cultural approach to relations between manufacturer and client, making Fiat one of the most open organisations, close to the expectations of the public. ‘The 500, the car of the people, by the people’: this slogan sums up the philosophy behind the development of a project which, in the best Fiat tradition, ‘democratises’ access to contents and technologies that have never been offered in this segment before.
- It is also the first time that a compact car (3.55 metres) has been built to achieve a 5-star rating in the EuroNCAP impact tests, and it is ready for the 6-star test if and when the new rating is introduced. Safety at all costs, with no impact on prices, a bold decision, which confirms Fiat’s intention of extending its strategy of leadership to vehicle protection, totally consistent with decisions taken in recent years as regards the Panda and the Croma, right through to the Grande Punto and the Bravo.
- It is the first ‘small’ car to offer so much in the way of content: from the standard kit to the customisation options, there’s an endless choice (well, okay 500 000 choices).
- And finally, the new model confirms Fiat Automobiles’ undisputed leadership in this category, a ‘savoir faire’ that goes back a long way, and reflects the evolution of the clientele of this market bracket.The Fiat 500 was born out of this great technical and design heritage that has been built up over the years, and from the expertise that only a company that has always led the European market in this segment can have.
Uninterrupted success that demonstrates how, over the years, Fiat has won the compact segment not only with numbers but also and above all by winning the customer’s trust: trust in the brand, and in the experience of its designers.