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Fresh, feisty Fiat 500

Fresh, feisty Fiat 500

The Fiat 500, an icon of Italian mobility, has found its way into the hearts of the urban cool, millennials, early adopters, and status seekers alike and about two weeks ago I got to spend the day cruising the streets of Johannesburg and meandering the Magaliesburg to test out this little beauty.

I must mention that the car I drove during uni days was a Fiat Seicento so my love for the brand is there, although I don’t think that affects my bias… much.

The launch day was all about the redesign of the Fiat 500 and experiencing the four new trim levels, each of which promises a high specification, enhancing the model’s particular traits. Here’s a little more on what’s on offer:

The history

The Fiat 500 was first built 64 years ago in Turin, Italy and this icon is still made there.

The original Fiat 500 offered mobility and freedom in the 1960s, becoming a social phenomenon and establishing itself as a “love brand”. With the second generation, launched in 2007, the Fiat 500 introduced the concept of coolness and charm to the city car, becoming an icon of Italian fashion and style that conquered the world. An ever-evolving model that has inspired artists and musicians over the past 13 years, and has always remained current.

Now the third generation of the Fiat 500 still pays tribute to everything significant about its legacy and that’s what’s charming about the 500, it’s joined the 21st Century without losing its roots.

Here’s what they’ve launched.

Fiat 500Fiat 500 Cult

The new Cult derivative embodies entry-level excitement for the Fiat 500. Every time you drive it, the Fiat 500 Cult instills a sense of exhilaration and lightness in you. The 500 is now available in a striking new Arancio Sicilia orange colour (like an amber), which adds new pop and cool to the design, however many other colours are also available with the same 500 attitude. Cult variants come standard with LED daytime running lamps and halogen headlights, as well as 14-inch steel wheels with hubcaps and black external mirrors.

Blue fabric seats with a Fiat monogram and a body colour dashboard distinguish the cabin. A techno blue matt dashboard is a new option for the Cult, and the basic list of comfort options includes a speed limiter, a Uconnect five-inch radio with DAB, USB connections, and manual air conditioning.

Fiat 500 Connect

It doesn’t take much for the Fiat 500 Connect to make you fall in love. A maestro of elegance, combining cutting-edge technology with a modern, connected lifestyle. Connect models are distinguished by 15-inch alloy wheels, side skirts, rear spoiler, and bumpers which have fog lights, as well as all the Cult standard specifications.

The new silver bi-colour treatment with gloss black roof complements the model perfectly.

The inside is enhanced by new “flashy” seats that are height adjustable, as well as a multi-function steering wheel with eight buttons. Matt silver is an option for the dashboard, while other interior improvements include cruise control, a seven-inch Uconnect infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and AndroidAuto, and two additional back speakers.

Fiat 500 Dolcevita

Fiat 500With unique badging and chrome highlights on the two-tone paintwork, Dolcevita models epitomise Italian design and flair for the more avant-garde. The Dolcevita comes with bespoke 16-inch alloy wheels, a glass roof, Matelassé fabric seats with techno leather detailing, and a 50/50 split back seat, as well as a techno-leather multi-function steering wheel.

Fiat 500 Sport

The Fiat 500 Sport wins you over at first glance with its sleek, well-defined appearance, adding a dash of assertiveness to your daily routine. This little model growls too. Sport enhancements such as 16-inch alloy wheels, sport badging, and specialised side skirts, bumpers and rear spoiler will appeal to these more sporty clients. The new cloud grey colour contrasts nicely with the new “arrow electric” seats and the titanium dashboard with the red 500 emblem. Automatic air conditioning is accompanied by a TFT seven-inch digital cluster. (TFT stands for thin-film-transistor, which is a variant of liquid crystal display (LCD).)

Advanced drivetrain technology

Fiat’s TwinAir two-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine powers the Fiat 500. This engine not only includes cutting-edge technology and economy, but it also pays homage to the original two-cylinder engine design from the 1960s.

The advanced 875cc engine is a high-performance motor designed with major innovations developed by Fiat for petrol engines. The “downsizing” technology reduces the engine power, the number of cylinder and the size of the engine, resulting in a drastic reduction in fuel consumption and emissions levels (up to 30%) but, as it is matched with the turbocharger, its power and performance remain the same. It delivers a healthy 62.5kW at 5,500 rpm and 145Nm of torque at 1,900 rpm, which means the 500 is frugal, yet spirited, offering combined cycle fuel consumption of 4 l/100km while still accelerating around town in very respectable times (0-100km/h in 11 seconds).

The Fiat 500 is available with both manual and automatic transmissions, which is very handy in the A-segment. The five-speed manual transmission is a joy to drive and very engaging. Fiat’s MTA transmission provides the convenience and comfort of two-pedal driving while remaining cost-effective and dependable in terms of maintenance and operation. The MTA is still exciting to drive because the driver can anticipate gearshifts, increasing involvement and overall enjoyment.

The Fiat 500 hatchback is available in all four trim levels, whereas the cabriolet 500C is only available on Dolcevita and Sport models. Manual transmission is available on the Cult, Connect, and Sport hatchbacks, as well as the 500C Sport, whereas MTA is only offered on the 500 and 500C Dolcevita.


The Fiat 500 life wouldn’t be complete without a slew of standard safety and convenience features that make a huge difference on your daily commute.

There is no A-segment car that is safer. The Fiat 500 established the norm for safety in the sector with seven airbags as standard. Front airbags for the driver and passenger, as well as knee airbags, side airbags, and curtain airbags, provide active crash protection. Those daytime running lights, which are inspired by the zero in the 500 emblem, provide increased road visibility as well as a stylish appeal.

Electronic Stability Control and anti-lock brakes are both standard across the range. The hill-holder will make you look like a pro on every uphill pull off and eliminate one source of traffic tension. The speed restriction is an additional important driver aid. It’s under the steering wheel, and once set, it won’t let the car go faster than the speed you set.


The Fiat 500 isn’t only stylish; it’s also intelligent. Onboard infotainment systems not only entertain, but also link with your lifestyle, allowing you to go on the most exciting experiences while maintaining a high level of convenience.

Enjoy the Uconnect seven-inch HD touchscreen with “tablet effect” and HD display, which incorporates a hands-free system, Bluetooth technology, and voice recognition, among other features. The system offers a user-friendly interface that allows you to effortlessly manage navigation, music, contacts, and more. It is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. All of this is within easy reach while you’re driving.

In addition to steering wheel controls and hands-free Bluetooth, the Uconnect five-inch radio features a big touchscreen with DAB+ (Digital Audio Broadcasting) digital radio tuner.

The Uconnect seven-inch DAB+ system has a big format display with “smart gesture” capabilities, putting control at your fingertips. It can be equipped with HD Navigation, which includes a TomTom navigator with 3D maps as an option.


Cult 0.9L FWD 5MT R 219 900
Connect 0.9L FWD 5MT R 260 900
Sport – 0.9L FWD 5MT R 269 900
Dolcevita 0.9L FWD 5AT R 274 900
Sport Cabriolet 0.9L FWD 5MT R 319 900
Dolcevita Cabriolet 0.9L FWD 5AT R 324 900Stellantis


Clare Petra Matthes

Hi, I'm Clare and I am a freelance writer and Tech journalist as well as the owner and founder of where I review tech devices and also cover emerging technology news. Outside of I write for a number of publications and have regular tech slots on chaiFM radio station and eNCA's Tech Matters national breakfast TV news show.

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