Fiat 500 2016 facelift revealed: first official pics of 500’s new look

Published: 03 July 2015

 2016 model year Fiat 500 revealed
 New lights, grille, refreshed interior
 Starts from £10,890, on sale September

If it ain’t broke… These are the first official pictures of the newly facelifted Fiat 500, the first major visual overhaul for the smash-hit city car since its modern-era launch eight years ago.

Though you might need to squint to notice them, Fiat claims to have lavished as many as 1800 detail changes throughout the car to keep it fighting fit against its younger city car rivals. Apart from a gentle styling evolution, the Cinquecento’s also undergone an interior overhaul, various equipment upgrades and a detox session to curb its thirst and emissions.

As before, it’s available as a hatchback or almost-convertible 500C with a rollback fabric roof.

Hmm. It definitely looks different. Just trying to work out how…

Let’s play spot the difference. The car’s basic silhouette and overall dimensions haven’t changed a jot, with the main alterations limited to a fresh set of bumpers and headlight graphics.

At the front, underneath a new doe-eyed look for the upper headlights there’s now a larger pair of oval auxiliary lights, a little like those of the larger 500L model. Incorporated a ring of LED daytime running lights, they’re intended to mimic the ‘0’ shapes in the 500 logo. The rejigged grille gets extra splashes of chrome and an intricate pinboard-style treatment for top Lounge trim models.

The tail-lights have changed, too. Although they occupy the same space as before, they’ve become rectangular cut-outs, like square Spaghetti-O’s.

There must be changes inside, too?

Yes, the interior’s also had a revamp. As our prototype spyshots predicted, the ‘U-connect’ infotainment system from elsewhere in the Fiat/Alfa/Jeep range now makes an appearance mid-dash, somewhat dwarfed by a curiously large surround which doubles as a home for the relocated air vents. Top Lounge models sport a larger touchscreen interface with smartphone connectivity – the kind of functionality that’s essential for the 500 to retain its target audience of youthful urbanites.

2016 Fiat 500 interior

The distinctive circular instrument cluster behind the wheel now includes a digital TFT display in its centre with trip info and media displays, though it’s an option rather than standard fit.

Other changes are minor. Slightly different seats, new cupholders and a new position for the 12V socket are the bits you can see; extra soundproofing panels on the passenger side to make motorway journeys a bit more tolerable are bits you can’t.  

Tell me about engines.

From launch, it’s a petrol-only affair with the familiar 0.9-litre two-cylinder TwinAir turbo with 85bhp or 103bhp, along with the 69bhp 1.2-litre four-cylinder. Impressively, the 85bhp TwinAir emits a tax-dodging 90g/km of CO2, and Fiat will shortly release an ‘eco’ version of the 1.2-litre petrol which will dip under the 100g/km mark – though it’s still mulling whether or not to bring that version to the UK.

Although it’s yet to be confirmed for the UK, the 94bhp 1.3 Multijet diesel (now Euro6-compliant) is scheduled to join the range shortly after launch with sub-90g/km CO2 emissions.

And equipment?

There are three trim levels: Pop, Popstar and Lounge.

All get USB connectivity, colour screen and steering wheel controls but the base Pop has to go without air-con. The top Lounge gets a large glass sunroof along with that touchscreen interface.

And for those who really must stand out, there’s a new ‘Second Skin’ decal pack option including the dubious camo option pictured in the gallery, which Fiat describes as  ‘fashionably military.’

How much?

The range goes on sale in September 2015, starting from £10,890. Full prices will be revealed a little closer to the launch date.

Fiat’s shifted 1.5 million 500s since the model’s resurrection eight years ago. No pressure, then…

By James Taylor

CAR's deputy features editor, automotive design graduate, Radical champ

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