By on September 14, 2010

This is the interior of the forthcoming Fiat 500 Sport, built in Mexico for the US market [UPDATE: Fiat’s PR team insists that this is not the US-market version… we will revisit the story when real photos come out]. After the jump, you can find a photo of the Italian market Fiat 500’s interior. Spot the differences (there’s one big one we’re thinking of) and win the respect of TTAC’s Best & Brightest. Help us understand why these changes were made, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming the next TTAC comments section superstar.

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66 Comments on “Stump The Best And Brightest: The Fiat 500’s American Changes Edition...”

  • avatar

    The HVAC controls look different?

    • 0 avatar

      Yup.  Dual zone climate control on the Italian model, manual HVAC dials on the US version.

    • 0 avatar

      well i have driven both a low spec and fully loaded 500 and the HVAC controls change if it has the 2 zone climate control or just a basic HVAC, which dont make much difference in such a small car anyway, and with the panoramic sunroof on a sunny day expect to have them on full blast at all time to counter the incredible searing heat from the top…

      the difference that is most eveident is the quality of the plastic, much worse on the U.S spec than on the European one…

    • 0 avatar

      Many low-mid priced cars have a manual climate control standard, and an optional ECC (Electronic Climate Control), The biggest difference betyween the two climate controls isn’t the single vs dual zone, but that the single zone is probably a manual (not micro-based and sensorless) vs the ECC dual zone with air-valve actuators and temperature sensors.

      if they’ve made the investment to design an ECC (an expensive process, BTW…), they will want to spread that investment across as many cars as possible, which should logically include the US market models. The metric vs standard switch is a simple software function.

      Look for the dual zone ECC to be optional in North America.

      Just my 2 cents worth…

    • 0 avatar

      If you are thinking of the finish of the dash in the top image, the Blackjack has a matte black paint job and the dash is the same as the exterior color, the other images are of the more normal everyday color choices, which are glossier and thus makes the dash look much more expensive. I don’t think the plastic quality has changed at all, at least not to the level you may be suspecting.

  • avatar

    The big thing I notice is that the Euro model has dual zone climate control and the U.S. model does not. De-contenting to get to a price point anyone?

  • avatar

    Biggest difference looks to be climate control (manual vs auto)
    Well, that plus the brushed faux-metal trim on the dash. I don’t see much else that’s different.

    • 0 avatar

      I hope the interior with the white steering wheel will be available in the U.S. I know it isn’t the most masculine looking thing, but I like the way it looks and with a wife and a kid I have nothing to prove.

  • avatar

    Missing the “E” button on the transmission (whatever that does…)
    The seats are leather (or possibly vinyl) instead of cloth, and are shaped slightly differently.
    HVAC as has been mentioned…

  • avatar
    Cammy Corrigan

    The scenery in the Italian version is much nicer than the grey one in the US version. I can’t believe they’ve cheapened the background for the US market just to reach a price point!

  • avatar

    The Italian passenger door panel looks more convex, more sharply, than the US version. Viva la elbow room for Italy !

  • avatar

    I’m not sure if the steering wheel angle is the same (I hope that it’s adjustable!) but the HVAC control change is for the allowance of gloves I would think. Hope there’s a manual version and a dead pedal available.

  • avatar

    “Hope there’s a manual version and a dead pedal available.”
    Bingo. The Manual goes to Brazil. This is the American version: a chick’s car.

  • avatar

    It’s got an Auto-Manual tranny. See the “AM”?

  • avatar

    The gates in the shifter appear to be the same, but the E-button (don’t know if this is for “economy” or for “electronic-automated shifting” (my Smart has an automated shifting defeat button on the side of the stick) in the lower left quadrant of the shift console has been replaced by a dummy plug.)

  • avatar

    The door handles are slightly different as well, and overall it just looks cheaper.

    • 0 avatar
      Rod Panhard

      The door handles in the Fiatlser look like door handles Americans can figure out. When I had a Saab, Volvos and Mercedes-Benz, my guest passengers couldn’t figure out the door handle. Not so in the Miata. So yeah, they dumbed down the door handles.

  • avatar

    Well. Besides the obvious HVAC and E on the shifter, and the color… I see that Italian model has upholstery and American has leather.
    But in any case… Italian car made in Mexico. Can this get worse?

  • avatar

    It may just be the exposure/lighting but the US model looks darker, other than the older HVAC.  Which I have no problem with since I don’t think electrical controls are needed..  I just wonder if the dash is the same material-wise.
    Both pictures are missing a clutch.

  • avatar

    American seats are larger.

  • avatar

    The Italian model passenger seat comes with a dark hair lovely, with sharp facial features and a difficult personality (what’s not to like!!)

    The US model has someone from Wichita in it.

  • avatar

    220 mph speedo on the US model?  Really? 

  • avatar

    The steering wheel center on the US looks matte whereas the Italian is shiny. The Italian image has been lovingly photo retouched and the US hasn’t. All the other changes have been mentioned. Hey at least it doesn’t have a Chrysler logo!

  • avatar

    The volume of the airbag space behind the steering wheel on the U.S. model is certainly larger, possibly to accommodate an airbag meeting a different U.S. spec.
    The steering wheel itself may have a larger diameter on the U.S. model.

  • avatar

    It looks like there may be some kind of mouse-fur wrapped around the shifter housing in the Italian 500, whereas it’s hard plastic in the US version.

  • avatar

    It’s the body colored panel across the dash. The whole point Fiat colored it the same as the bodywork was to emulate the original Fiat Cinquecento which was basically the same sheet metal as the rest of the car.
    I don’t think by removing this you will upset anyone, as who in North America can actually remember what the original Cinquecento interior looked like?

  • avatar

    As noted by many others before me, the HVAC controls are the prime difference. This is simply Fiat’s way of welcoming chrysler into the family. Or is it Chrysler poking its nose into the Fiat family? I’m not sure. This is one of many ways they’re going to be able to turn more of a profit from the 500. It’s not decontenting per-se, but simplification. Using the extensive Chrysler partsbin is just a small way to cut costs, increase profits, and make these newfangled Eetalyun cars seem more at home with the mechanics they’ll eventually be seeing.

  • avatar
    Amendment X

    but I can’t find them!

  • avatar

    The circular detail on the a-pillar is also changed. It looks like a speaker on the Italian model and a blanking plate on the US model, although it’s probably dependent on stereo options

  • avatar

    Chrysler parts-bin HVAC parts?  Maybe, kinda.  We make this HVAC right here in Battle Creek, MI.  Right next to Toyota, Honda, and yes, other Chrysler HVACs.  Due to the size of the car, it’s a pretty compact unit.  Nothin’ wrong with the fancy multiple-servo controlled automatic ones, but I’m just as happy turning the climate knobs myself.

  • avatar

    hvac is it. looks cheaper. other then obvious dash color change, not much is different….right

  • avatar

    After clicking on the photos, the original 500 definitely was a Spartan little devil, wasn’t it?

  • avatar

    Ditto to the HVAC comments above; automatic climate control is rare in smaller, less luxurious cars in the U.S.
    It may be the camera angle, but I notice two things missing that most U.S. buyers demand, or at the very least prefer to have: Cupholders and a place to park a mobile phone when it’s not glued to the driver’s ear.
    A very positive move is that FIAT seems to be mounting the cruise control buttons on the steering wheel hub. Chrysler tended to mount a stalk behind the steering wheel rim, on the lower right of the steering column, much like Mercedes-Benz and Toyota (among others) did for many years. While using such a stalk is intuitive once you get used to it, the rest of the industry seems to be moving away from this…and with as many different cars I drive as rentals and company vehicles, I like consistency.
    Now if only the manufacturers would agree on which side of the steering wheel (right or left) to mount the cruise control versus the sound system buttons. It’s opposite between my personal car and my primary company car, which sometimes leads to inadvertent acceleration when I want to turn up the radio’s volume, or louder music when I want to go faster.

    • 0 avatar

      inadvertent acceleration when I want to turn up the radio’s volume, or louder music when I want to go faster.

      Hah! I had the same problem switching from my Mercury Mystique to my Saab. In other news, the stalk-cruise-control-control on the 9-5 is bi-freaking-zarre.

      Stalk has a left/right slider in front and a button on the end. You pull the slider to the left via a ridge until it clicks to turn cruise on/off; you set speed by pressing the thing on the end. You accelerate by pressing the thing, but reduce speed and resume by pushing the slider to the right. It’s like they had a truckload of stalks left over that were designed for some other function, like operating a backhoe, and figured out how to use them for cruise control.

    • 0 avatar

      You don’t see the storage cubbie to the left of the steering wheel?

  • avatar

    No side airbags on Italian model, only reason to explain door recess…just a SWAG though, can’t see driver’s side.

  • avatar

    Does the European model have a piano-black surround on the steering wheel that’s missing on the American model?  Or is that a trick of the light?
    The other issues (seat fabric, interior and mirror colour, climate controls) seem dependent on trim level and exterior colour, so it’s kind of hard to say.

  • avatar

    I know everyone is zeroing in on the manual HVAC, but I would wager that automatic HVAC is available on the top of the line model. From the press release I read, the Sport is the mid-range model.

  • avatar

    Assuming the mirrors are body color like on the Italian car, the dash in the American interior does match the exterior paint.

    I don’t think it would be much of a stretch for there to be BOTH manual and Auto HVAC options – surely the VERY basic 500s in Europe do not have any such thing. I’d be awfully surprised if A/C is even standard on the base car across the pond.

    Perfectly good cell phone cubby to the left of the wheel, I assume the Big Gulp holes are between the seats.

    And I too would want the white wheel and trim option – I sure hope that makes it over.

    I love these cars, and look forward to them brightening up the dull automotive landscape.

  • avatar

    Cappuccino cup holders …. where are the Cappuccino cup holders??  They are both missing them ….mannaggia la miseria!

  • avatar

    The digits on the speedo are oriented horizontally rather than around the circular gauge. And they’re bright electroluminescent lights on a dark background rather than seemingly on a brushed-metal bezel.

    I’ve seen 500s with a fold-out storage compartment on the passenger side of the center stack, down low. Could that be placement for a US-market cupholder? The US-spec pic does not seem to have this.

    The climate control can simply be explained by the optioning of the car in the picture, and the controls are FIAT units, not Chrysler units (though they do look similar to the PT Cruiser/Caliber HVAC controls).

  • avatar

    I agree with Cammy. They’ve deleted the italian scenery to meet the US price point.
    Oh, and replaced the italian plastics with something duller, cheaper and more befitting a Chrysler.

  • avatar

    Gigantic panel gap in the steering wheel airbag cover, and different (nerfed) font for the speedo.

  • avatar

    I think most of the differences in the photos can be chalked up to the fact that they depict cars that have been optioned out differently.  I rented a 500 Sport in Italy last year, and it was equipped with the manual, rotary HVAC controls (same as shown in the top photo)… the automatic climate control is a higher-spec option.  The seat cushion contours do look different, but I suspect that the Italian-spec photo is not showing the Sport model, but the less-aggressively contoured seats from the Pop or Lounge versions.

    I think krhodes1 is correct with regard to the body-color dash trim… it appears that the car in the photo has metallic gray paint (which is one of the exterior colors I’ve seen in the recently released US-spec publicity photos).  And all of the dash shapes and material textures appear to be the same if memory serves (though obviously you can’t really confirm this until we see it in the flesh).  Steering wheel looks identical to what I had as well – the Sport had a black matte-finish horn trim ring, not glossy.

    If I recall, cupholders were located in the floor console, and there is some sort of flip-out storage cubby below the shifter.  I would presume that those are still in the same locations, even if inconveniently hidden in the shadows of both photos.
    KalapanaBlack, the speedometer numerals on my rental were horizontally oriented like the one shown in the US-spec photo.  The radially-oriented speedo numbers in the Italian photo may be from one of the other models (not the Sport).

    Honestly, the only difference I can spot (which others have already mentioned) is that the “E” button on the lower left of the shift gate appears to be blanked out on the US-spec photo.  And I don’t know what that button is for (my rental was a manual).

  • avatar
    Tricky Dicky

    The most significant difference has to be the big white panel across the dash in the European version, which looks to have been made from soft touch plastic in the US version. Fiat managed to put in a really cheap and hard plastic in the EU model, by making it very bright and giving it a high gloss finish, that looked classy, but was dirt cheap to make.
    I suspect that focus group feedback in the US has homed in on the cheapness of the material and has not appreciated the aesthetic effect, hence replacing it with a more traditional soft touch plastic material.

  • avatar
    xer 21

    it looks like the italian has cloth, but i cant really tell, and the American is leather.

  • avatar

    The US 500 has a cheaper radio. Display says “93.90” whereas the Euro 500 shows “VOICE”.
    The interior colors and A/C could be different versions.
    I checked the Danish list and you can choose from 12 different models – of which NONE are automatic.
    I was going to say that there was a diesel version, but that was actually a “500 by Diesel”

  • avatar

    I can see that the seat tracks have much larger rollers and a different cross section, as well as larger attachment fasteners.

    I can also see that the recliners are of a completely different design, with a lever instead of a knob. I also see a much greater amount of lumbar support in the US version, but without an adjustment.

    The other differences are too minor to mention.


  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    The “grey & white” dashboard is too “clown car” for American tastes. The way the photo is taken makes me think the Italian word for “gearshift” is Levitra.

  • avatar

    The all grey US spec dash is BORING, why did they ditch the white?

    • 0 avatar

      Because the car isn’t white… its a dark gray. So it still does have the body color dash.

      I am skeptical about this photo being a true US spec
      Autoblog has these photos along with the exterior shot of a gray car, where the interior shot comes from.
      But I spot some difference to think that its not a us spec car.
      Comparing photos to this set from Chrysler
      The red car has a smaller rear license plate cutout than the gray one.  The gray car does not have amber side marker strips required by law like the red one. And the turn signals in the red one are in shared with the city lamp housing in the red one, and you can see its still in the headlight housing in the gray one.
      In the interior, the biggest thing I see, which doesn’t add up (ignoring the celcius temp in the gauges) is that it doesn’t have a traditional transmisson selector. It seems that its fitted with some sort of automated manual, like the duologic. I don’t think were getting that transmisson. Or if we do. It will have a different shift lever as to not confuse Americans, Smart did the same thing and reengineered the shifter for this market.
      There is also a rear fog lamp switch that I doubt will transfer over… it didn’t on the smart.  
      Not sure where these photos came from, they aren’t on Chrysler’s offical website.
      I could be wrong though…..

  • avatar

    With Italian engineering and Mexican knowhow (quality control), how can they go wrong?  Off topic, did Mexico kick in any pesos to prop up Chrysler?

  • avatar

    The steering wheel cover on the US spec is perforated, Euro not.

  • avatar

    Looks like I was right!
    Fiat clearly states that this isnt a US Spec car!

  • avatar

    Both will be available I’m sure as in Europe, you can option the car with automatic climate controls, which help maintain temperature levels as situations warrant but the car looks to come with the simple rotary manual controls as standard.
    And lest one worry about the skydome, I read somewhere that there is a sliding panel to close that off if the heat is too much, much like the glass sunroofs found in virtually any car that has one, the old steel panel sunroofs don’t need this but the newer glass versions do.

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