Fiat 500 Lounge 1.3 Multijet - Entertainment

By Jeremy Laird

Reviewed:

Summary

The 500's dashboard is unapologetically simple. In terms of LCD screens, that means a pair of monochromatic, single-line text displays are your lot, one located front and centre in the main dashboard, the other in the driver's instrument cluster. Large, multi-function colour LCD panels are conspicuous by their absence. But that suits the 500 just fine.

What you do get is an audio system with pretty comprehensive MP3 and WMA playback. It starts with the obligatory dash-mounted CD drive with MP3 support. Where things get a little more interesting is the Windows Mobile-branded USB port located on the floor below the dash. This accepts a standard USB memory storage and supports browsing and playback of MP3 and WMA files stored via the PC- and Mac- compatible FAT32 file system.

Admittedly, the 500's single-line displays are rather restrictive for navigating large music libraries. The fact that the system does not support playlists hardly helps either. Instead, you must organise your files such that a folder represents a playlist. But as long as you keep your expectations in check, it gets the job done well enough.

Courtesy of the Blue&Me interface, voice command is supported for key playback controls such as play, pause and track selection. However, the 500 also has a well configured set of steering wheel controls. Frankly, using these is quicker and simpler than barking out voice commands.

But what of the ever pressing question of iPod support? The short answer is yes, Blue&Me supports Apple's epoch-defining media player. Just plug it into the Windows Mobile USB port and away you go - in theory, at least. In practice, there are several limitations which largely derive from the fact that Blue&Me is based on a Microsoft operating system.

First up, music stored on an iPod must be in MP3 format. AAC and MP4 files are not supported. Depending on the makeup of your iTunes library, these restrictions may or may not present a major irritation. But even if your music library is correctly formatted, you cannot access your iTunes playlists.

It's exactly this sort of shortcoming that makes iPod support somewhat academic. Given the rock bottom prices of memory sticks today (and particularly if you plan on using the eco:Drive application, more on which in a moment) it's easier and less frustrating to have a dedicated USB key for your 500. Moreover, Blue&Me does not currently support the iPod touch or iPhone (the latter is supported as a Bluetooth telephony device, however). These are problems Fiat could potentially address in future. Until then, there are some significant sticking points for Apple devotees.

As for the sound quality of the audio system, well, it neither delights nor offends. It's a little short on real clout, subtlety or bass extension. But at this price point, it's about as good as you could hope for.

Ohmz

March 24, 2009, 5:23 pm

About time we see some car tech here!





TR is shaping up to be even better than before!

ilovethemonkeyhead

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

TheMonkeyHead

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

unknownjd

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!!

stephenallred

March 24, 2009, 9:47 pm

Enunciation, not diction.

Hugo

March 24, 2009, 10:08 pm

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

apoc286

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).

trigger

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.

MarioM

March 26, 2009, 2:51 pm

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

Jay4d0

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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