Rinspeed E2 – two personalities one Fiat 500

February 27th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Rinspeed E2 fq

Those crazy cats at Rinspeed have just created a dual-mode Fiat 500 Abarth that gets you more power and better fuel economy — just not at the same time. Rinspeed started with the 500 Abarth that has a standard 135 horsepower engine, and they’ve given it a new engine management system that has one mode for the city and one for the highway.

In ‘Commuting’ mode the 500 only has the use of up to 60 hp, which is forty fewer horses than the bog standard petrol 500, but you’ll be rewarded with almost 4L/100km. Press a button on the console to go to “Highway” mode and you get 160 hp, which is the same hp number for the 500 Abarth SS, but it costs you a tad of frugality at 7.1L/100km. There aren’t too many ways to make the popular Fiat 500 better, but Rinspeed may have found one.

Fiat releases first images of 500C

February 17th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Fiat 500C rq

Fiat has just released the first images of the Fiat 500C. The Fiat 500C will have its public debut at the Geneva Auto Show next month and shares the same dimensions as the hardtop 500. The Fiat 500C will be powered by the same engines: 1.3 litre 75 hp MultiJet Turbodiesel coupled to a 5-speed manual transmission and two petrol units. The petrol versions of the Fiat 500C will come with either a 1.2 litre with 69 hp or a 1.4 litre with 100 hp. Those two versions will be available with both a manual and a robotised Dualogic transmission.

The Fiat 500C has been designed in Poland and comes with a retro sliding canvas roof that opens thanks to a parallelogram hinge system. This set-up means the 500C retains its roofline and arching C-pillar, which should keep its structural rigidity intact while keeping blind spots at bay. However, with the canvas roof retracted, it looks like rearward visibility is seriously compromised.

Check out the images in the gallery and check back for more updates from the upcoming Geneva Auto Show.

Australian Police use Fiat 500 squad cars

January 28th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Fiat 500 Police Car fq

It’s hard to imagine Australian police without their full-size V8 cruisers, but one branch of the Australian Police Force, in Sydney’s Leichhardt, have gone to the absolute other extreme with a Fiat 500 JTD, the most economical car on the Australian market, now serving as a Police car.

But do not expect any highly economical police chases through the streets of Sydney. With New Zealand-born Constable Tui Ormsby at the wheel, the Fiat 500 Police car works to solve crime and stop road accidents before they happen by attracting attention to public education programmes run by the Police.

“When it comes to visibility, the Fiat 500 has proven to be an exceptional car, attracting attention and interest like no other car we have used,” said Superintendent Wayne Cox, the Leichhardt Local Area Commander. “With its primary role as providing a talking point from which we can discuss road safety and break down any barriers that may exist, the Fiat Bambino Police Car has attracted interest from all areas and all age groups.”

“Despite being marked up as a police vehicle, we don’t use the Fiat for normal police work,” said Supt Cox. “The Fiat is used for community policing, it’s a great way of building rapport between young people and police and certainly helps us get our safe driving messages through to car enthusiasts.”

“The Fiat frees up normal police cars so they can be out on the roads, not only helping to save lives but also helping to fight crime,” adds Supt Cox.

Fiat saves Chrysler with a strategic partnership

January 21st, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Chrysler announced yesterday that the troubled automaker has entered into a global strategic alliance with Fiat SpA, giving both companies access to each others’ products and markets. Fiat will also lend a hand in developing a business plan to present to the US Treasury; bringing with it experience gained through the Italian auto giant’s own restructuring. Chrysler now gets access to a range of small, fuel-efficient cars that are nothing like what is currently offered in American showrooms. Fiat’s engineering will be shifted over to some Chrysler manufacturing sites, keeping the plants busy and offering both brands ample capacity for the parts they will need to build cars.

in return for coming to the rescue Fiat will get a 35 percent equity interest in Chrysler and a way for the Italian automaker to re-enter the American market by suppling Chrysler the small cars it’s badly lacking. The partnership will go the other way, as well, with Chrysler vehicles gaining access to other markets through Fiat’s distribution avenues. With this new alliance Chrysler has dramatically increased its chances of not just survival but also possible future prosperity.

Punto production passes 1 million

December 3rd, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Fiat Punto fq

The Fiat Punto has passed the million sales mark with the production of a right hand drive Punto Sport T-Jet in Passionate Red last week.

The sales landmark puts the latest Punto well on its way to matching the production runs of the first two generation of Fiat’s small car, with the first generation closing its account at 3.5 million and the second generation recording a sales run of 3.0 million, giving the Punto a total sales figure of 7.5 million cars for its three generations.

More than a quarter of Puntos produced are the performance versions, the Sport and Racing and 30 per cent of Punto buyers opt for the Blue&Me communications system. In markets where it has been launched, the Punto Natural Power system that can run on both petrol and methane now accounts for 24 per cent of sales.

Finalists announced for NZ Car of the Year Awards

November 19th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Fiat 500 fin

The time has arrived for the 2008 NZ Car of the Year awards and nine vehicles have been shortlisted for New Zealand’s biggest automotive accolade. Among the finalists is the FG Ford Falcon reinforcing its popularity here in NZ, and the stylish Fiat 500.

Votes will be submitted by all members of the Motoring Writers Guild of NZ and finalists will be judged on various criteria. These criteria include how well the vehicle performs its allotted role; styling; interior design and accommodation; fit, finish and quality; ride and refinement; performance; road-holding and handling; value for money; active and passive safety; environmental responsibility.

The winner will be announced on Monday the 12th of January 2009.

The full list of finalists:

Fiat 500
FG-series Ford Falcon
Honda Accord Euro
Hyundai i30
Jaguar’s XF
Mazda6
Nissan X-Trail
Subaru Forester
Volkswagen Tiguan

Fiat creates special 500 for 100th birthday

November 17th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Fiat 500 Abarth 100 fq

A special Fiat 500 Abarth variant has been created to commemorate Karl Abarth’s 100th (born on November 15, 1908) birthday. Not just a styling exercise, the 500 Abarth “DA O A 100″ tribute comes with an upgraded 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Acceleration to 100kmh takes just 7.3 seconds, helped along by shortened gear ratios. Suspension is revised as well, with lowered springs and new 17-inch alloys fitted with low-profile Pirelli PZero Neros.

The ‘100 is shined up with Nuvolari Grey paint along with special silver side stripes and chrome-plated badges and side mirrors. Inside, that color scheme is repeated in leather with contrasting stitching. If you want one, better get your name on the list now, as Fiat’s only planning to build 101 of the unique 500s.

Fiat to unveil Bugster concept in Brazil

October 23rd, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Fiat Bugster concept fq

South America is a vital market for Fiat, and with the Sao Paulo International Auto Show coming up, the Italian automaker’s Brazilian arm has something special planned for the locals. Called the Bugster, it looks like a cross between a KTM X-Bow and a Jeep Wrangler.

Very little is known at this point, except that its green color is radical. Its undisclosed powertrain is good for zero-emission transportation, and the eco-friendly body panels are made out of renewable natural fibers. More details should come to the surface as the Sao Paulo show prepares to open at the end of this month.

Check back for more concepts from the upcoming Sao Paulo show.