Exclusive previews of the Fiat 500 in SA


It’s been hoisted in the clouds courtesy of a ride in one of the capsules on the British Airways London Eye. It’s been pulled through the Berlin Underground, the famous U-Bahn, in celebration of its 2007 European Car of the Year award. And now it’s been seen in Africa’s hippest city. Of course it’s the Fiat 500, the most talked-about small car on the planet!

And, there are two examples of this iconic bambino doing the rounds right here in sunny ol’ SA: a classic Lounge spec version finished in an antique white and sporting retro hounds-tooth check upholstery with a white leather steering wheel; and a more contemporary fizz-pop red Sport derivative boasting 16-inch alloys and racy detailing. Both are equipped with the 1.4-litre Starjet motor which delivers an entertaining 73,5kW of ‘oomph’ and is mated to six-speed box.

The South African Fiat 500 ‘Road Show’ kicked off with a VIP preview event held at the Kyalami pits on the 24th January for around 300 VIPs and organised by Fiat Group Automobiles South Africa to showcase some of the Group’s latest vehicular offerings. The response was incredible. People were bowled over by its pint-sized looks and manic attention to detail – the way it harks back to the original 500, but in a completely contemporary way.

Because this little Latin number is all about heritage, it’s appropriate that the next stop on the 500 Road Show was the Italian Club in Bedfordview on Sunday the 27th January. Many tales came out of implausible – not to mention amorous – feats that were tackled while sitting in the front and back seats of the original Cinquecento.

Not surprisingly, the new car has inherited the same feel-good factor as its forefather … and a whole lot more including exquisite Italian craftsmanship, incomparable 5-star EuroNCAP safety and the fact that it’s crammed with kit.

The next outing for the ubiquitous 500 was the MPH show at the Coca-Cola Dome from the 31st January to the 3rd Febuary. It clearly stole the heart of co-host Sasha Martinengo, who has already put his name down for one. And who can blame him? The sight of that lollipop red Cinquencento with its butch alloys cheekily weaving its way on stage through all that supercar traffic made it totally irresistible.

And, speaking of jaw-dropping supercars, when the Ferrari Club held their annual Rosso Day at Kyalami this past Saturday, it was the Fiat 500 that took pride of place in the display area, despite it’s bigger brother’s line-up of over 100 Ferraris. Resplendent in white, the diminutive Cinquencento was definitely the red carpet showstopper with the result that 30 confirmed orders were received on the day.

Mr Giorgio Gorelli, Managing Director of Fiat Group Automobiles SA, is naturally very excited about the forthcoming launch of the 500: “The amazing success of these exclusive Cinquecento previews is proof that Fiat is making cars that people want to drive, that Fiat is spearheading innovation and that Fiat is back with a bang. The launch of the 500 on the 4th July, exactly a year after the car’s international debut, will be a day to remember in local automotive history.”