Fiat 500 - Interior & comfort
More space and tech means the Fiat 500's interior now feels more grown up
The 500's ride is pretty good, but the weight of the battery means the suspension has to be relatively stiff, making bumps at low speeds more noticeable. Smaller wheels should help it feel more settled and even with 17-inch alloys fitted, the ride settles down at motorway speeds, helping to make long journeys more enjoyable. Refinement has also taken a leap thanks to the inherent quietness of the electric motor, which is far smoother than the rorty two-cylinder Fiat 500 petrol engines.
It's a more comfortable place to sit too, with a good driving position. A common criticism of the second-generation 500 was that it felt like you were sitting 'on’ it rather than 'in’ it, but there's no such sensation here. The interior is entirely new, feels less cluttered than before, and features vastly improved technology. There's a bit too much black plastic, but we like the 'easter eggs' dotted around the interior, reminding owners the car was built in Turin.
Fiat 500 dashboard
A new UConnect 5 infotainment system for the Fiat Chrysler group makes its debut in top trims, with a sharp 10.25-inch touchscreen, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It now has far better graphics than previous versions but some functions, such as turning on a heated seat, take too many steps to accomplish. The instruments are also digital, thanks to a seven-inch TFT display. There are some cheap plastic materials dotted around the interior, pointing to the fact Fiat has still had to make compromises to undercut rivals.
Pick the Action model, and there's a big gap where the touchscreen is usually found, with a smartphone cradle in its place. This means it also forgoes a rear-view camera, although in the tiny 500 you rarely need one. A seven-inch touchscreen can also be added in with an £850 Radio Pack.
Smartphone-style apps, and the ability to check on the car remotely and warm up or cool the interior before a journey, should freshen up the ownership experience. Other new tech includes on-board wi-fi, tracking software that can help find the car if it's stolen, and a number of forward-facing sensors. These can be used to improve safety and to enable convenience features such as adaptive cruise control and speed limit assist.
The first version to arrive is the Fiat 500 La Prima special edition. This is available in three colours, with LED headlights, 17-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels and chrome-plated trim. Three core trim levels are called Action, Passion and Icon. Action trim includes 15-inch alloy wheels, rear parking sensors and lane-keeping assist, keyless go and a smartphone mount. Passion adds LED daytime running lights and a seven-inch infotainment display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Icon brings 16-inch alloy wheels and a 10.25-inch screen, along with improved interior upholstery.