Fiat will unveil an updated version of its 500 hatchback on July 4th. This particular date has great significance for Fiat—no, not because of Independence Day—as it was on July 4th of 2007 that the current 500 was first introduced and it was on the same day back in 1957 that the original 500, the Cinquecento, made its debut.
Fiat is calling the latest 500 a new car but it will be an updated version of the model on sale here since the 2011 model year. Prototypes spotted testing in Europe confirm minimal updates for the exterior, with the only changes spotted being revised lights, new bumpers and different wheel patterns.
No doubt there will be changes in other areas of the car. Both an updated version of the 500 hatch as well as an updated 500 Cabrio are expected. The cars should go on sale later this year, as 2016 models. Eventually, other 500 variants including the sporty Abarth models should be updated as well.
The current 500 is engaging to drive by almost any measure. Base cars get a 101-horsepower 1.4-liter MultiAir engine that's not quite as peppy or perky as you'd expect in something with the 500's funky design; but the Turbo models and their 135-hp engine are the ones that make good on the promises of the exterior. Above that, it's the 160-horsepower Abarth that actually feels truly sporty, especially when equipped with the six-speed manual.