Upgrade That Happened With Fiat 500 Cult

Fiat vamps up its modern icon with an all new engine and added technology in the form of a brand new ‘Cult’ edition.

CARPHOTO-717

When: February 2014

Where: Balocco, Italy

What: 2014 Fiat 500 Cult

Occasion: International first drive

Overall rating: 4/5

For those of you trying to find the ultimate Fiat 500, the newest Cult edition combines luxury, new technology and a better engine with this range topping model.

Key Facts

Model driven: Fiat 500 Cult

Pricing: to be confirmed

Engine: .9-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol

Transmission: front-wheel drive, six-speed manual

Body style: three-door hatchback

Rivals: Ford Ka, Hyundai i10, Volkswagen up!

CO2 emissions: 99g/km (Band A2, €180 per annum)

Combined economy: 67.2mpg (4.2 litres/100km)

Top speed: 188km/h

-100km/h: 10. seconds

Power: 105hp at 5,500rpm

Torque: 145Nm at 2,000rpm

In the Metal: 4.5/5

In line with the original brief when this car was first launched back in 2007, this latest Cult edition is full of retro charm. True 500 anoraks – sorry, fans – will see the subtle changes that include adding chromed mirror caps, additional colour-matched trim on the lower door section and subtly updated rear lights. A whole new colour palette offers further choices for individuals who desire a shade of paint which is more days-gone-by than bang-up-to-date. The Fiat 500 can be a car that is capable of pulling off these sorts of hues more than any other – even a MINI. A new selection of alloy wheels completes the exterior update.

The adjustments to the interior are small but aid to remind everyone that this is the most luxurious 500 so far. It does make the Fiat appearance and feel that bit more special, although granted, the cream-coloured dashboard and controls might not be to everyone’s taste. Thanks to modern health and safety standards, the Bakelite steering wheel hasn’t made a return, though and of course it has a good amount of retro touches. Seats both front and rear take on a new box rib leather finish though, which does look rather smart. A fresh seven-inch TFT display replaces the traditional dials in the instrument binnacle and does go some approach to making the now-ageing interior retain some appeal.

Driving it: 3.5/5

As much fun as the first TwinAir engine was, it did encourage you not to operate a vehicle it as economically as was perhaps originally intended. Part of this was to the lack of torque and the narrow power-band, two issues that were addressed within this new, more robust TwinAir engine. The 105hp unit has additionally now been mated using a six-speed gearbox, which makes the car feel significantly more settled at higher speeds. And in many cases a little too early considering the road conditions – driving it on another 500rpm before upshifts allows it to carry momentum that bit better, ever tightening emissions regulations result in a shift indicator appearing excessively frequently in the dash display.

Fuel economy is reasonably good, though you will have to drive quite studiously if you want to come close to the quoted combined economy figure of 67mpg. The ride is still rather unrefined on uneven surfaces, and can be a little bouncy. It remains a fun car to drive at lower speeds while its compact size allows it to fit into the tightest of parking spaces, however.

The things you get for your Money: 3.5/5

Although official pricing has yet being confirmed, the Cult could be the most expensive version offered by Fiat and is targeted at those who want ‘the ultimate’ 500. The car is expected being purchased by true connoisseurs who the Italian firm may hope won’t be concerned about the asking price, according to Fiat. The latest engine and gearbox does give the car wider appeal and can make it that little more useable, particularly for those who could be commuting from satellite towns. For reference, the most expensive TwinAir-engined 500 available for sale in Ireland right now costs €16,495.

Worth Noting

As Fiat plans to also make it a standard feature of the sportier looking 500S at the same time if you want that cool new TFT display on the dash of a Fiat 500 it isn’t necessary to go for the 500 Cult.

Summary

Unlike some of the other supermini-sized city cars on the market, the Fiat 500 still manages to put a grin on your face when driving. It remains a car that is full of charm and character. Additionally looks, which, despite receiving no significant changes in seven years, still manage to look fresh.

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