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Fiat 500 Lounge 1.3 Multijet review



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Hilariously teeny yet impeccably taut, Fiat's funky little 500 is as chic and stylish as it gets for budget motoring. For its looks alone it richly deserves the European Car of the Year gong it collected in 2008. The 500 really is a remarkably accomplished aesthetic package, inside and out. Forget, therefore, the sub-£10,000 UK starting price and humdrum mechanicals. This car delivers a decidedly upscale feel good factor.

That much you probably already know. But were you aware the 500 also has some surprisingly meaty chops in the digital tech department thanks to Fiat's intriguing Blue&Me infotainment platform? Standard on all 500s in Sport or Lounge trim and described by Fiat as a personal telematic system for communication and entertainment, the most visible aspects of Blue&Me are Bluetooth connectivity, steering wheel controls and an in-car USB port. That's hardly revolutionary. However, because it's based on Microsoft's Windows Mobile operating system, Blue&Me is significantly more powerful and configurable than you might imagine.

For starters, Blue&Me supports voice command for most of its functions. It also features Fiat's novel eco:Drive data logging and driver training application, along with an up-to-date media playback system, handsfree Bluetooth telephony including audio-based text message reading and optional sat-nav functionality. It's not necessarily what you would expect in the context of the 500's simple if slick interior design and relatively modest pricing.

What's more, Blue&Me's Windows Mobile underpinnings ensure that future upgrades and potentially whole new applications are a genuine possibility. eco:Drive, for instance, was not available on the first Blue&Me-equipped 500s. But early 500 adopters are nevertheless able to add it to their box of Blue&Me tricks. Given that cars in general are traditionally conceived to be functionally static devices once they have rolled out of the factory - the odd sat-nav or engine mapping update, aside - that's a something of a philosophical novelty.

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March 24, 2009, 5:23 pm

About time we see some car tech here!

TR is shaping up to be even better than before!


March 24, 2009, 6:02 pm

i thought it was a printer review >.>

Rich 42c5

March 24, 2009, 6:38 pm

awesome work guy's keep it up


March 24, 2009, 6:45 pm

I am not sure if I am ready for a move to Ecoville just yet, but I certainly think the car tech channel is a good idea for TR.

Is there room for a spec table in these reviews?

P.S. @ Ilovethemonkeyhead, I love you too x


March 24, 2009, 6:46 pm

Great read! This sort of info is usually so hard to find without going to see a car itself!!


March 24, 2009, 9:47 pm

Enunciation, not diction.


March 24, 2009, 10:08 pm

That mean, he speaks the truth: amended, thanks.


March 25, 2009, 3:06 pm

Hmm I've a Grande Punto with this system installed but I never managed to get it to read txts with my N95 :P

I can verify that it does allow you to push contacts with the KC910 Renoir so presumabley other newer LG's will work as well. Although it seems sound quality varies between phones, I got better results with sound quality with my N95 then the Renoir.

It seems trying to get Eco:Drive working on the older Blue & Me's can be problematic, as it may record the data but refuse to dump it to a stick, as that what mine is doing (just going to get Fiat to sort next time I visit).


March 25, 2009, 9:26 pm

It's a pretty little car at a nice price. If the UK .gov decided to go with the old banger trade-in option some other countries have done to boost the car market I may be interested. However the old Fiat reliability still weighs on the mind... hmm...

Tony Walker

March 26, 2009, 4:14 am

I've done 12000 in 12 months in my 1.3 Mjet Sport and have loved every single one of them.

The 1.3 (1248cc actually) diesel engine is an absolute doll and rewards smooth driving with real-world MPG figures of around 55MPG. Figures arrived at by the ancient method of recording distance travelled between tank fills.

A number of the Blue & Me issues have revolved around flaky Bluetooth implementations in the phones, indeed my iPhone 3G only became usable with the v2.2 firmware.

The basic (but excellent) audio system is made by Blaupunkt and better encoded MP3's sound suitably better through the system (I use 320kbit on an 8gb USB stick). SHould you require it there is a factory fit Hi-Fi option available made by Interscope.

Final tech bit and very 500-ish is the range quoted after I've just filled the tank. It comes up as.......yes, you've guessed it, 500 miles. Which is in line with what the electronic comsumption thinks I get in MPG - this is quite a bit higher then what I do get though.


March 26, 2009, 2:51 pm

Does the Sedici have Blue&Me too, does anyone know? Their flashy website is a nightmare to use.


March 27, 2009, 2:34 am

@ MarioM

no but may I suggest, if your looking at the Sedici, you look at the Suzuki SX4 which is exactly the same car but can be considerably cheeper depending the spec your looking for

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