Our spy photographers caught the baby Fiat testing in Italy, and the firm has clearly kept its word, because it retains the cute profile and compact dimensions of the 2005 Trepiuno concept.

Fiat's baby reborn

Small is beautiful – just ask Fiat! The baby Fiat which is set to stir things up in the city car market was caught testing in Italy by one of our spy photographers. Fiat has clearly kept its word, because it retains the cute profile and compact dimensions of the 2005 Trepiuno concept. It debuted at last year's Geneva Motor Show, and was inspired by Fiat's legendary Nuova 500, which was a hit worldwide between 1957 and 1975.

Initially, bosses stalled the project, but it got the green light for production in October 2004, and work is now clearly well advanced. Better still, the cheeky looks of the show car are destined to reach production virtually unchanged. Retro door handles look set to feature, along with sleek Grande Punto-style door mirrors. More expensive versions are expected to be offered with glass roof panels and upmarket leather upholstery.

Owners will also be able to personalise their 500 with a massive range of accessories, in a similar way to the fashionable MINI line-up. The production version of the front engined city car will be a cozy four-seater but comfortably smaller than the current crop of over-sized super-minis. However, it will come with a similarly tiny price tag when it finally hits dealers next autumn. Entry-level models will echo the original Fiat 500 by offering great value for money, and will cost from only 7 500 Euros – making it one of the cheapest cars in Europe.

Enthusiasts can follow the new Fiat's launch at a specially created website (www.fiat500.com), which includes a countdown to the car's arrival – there are only 450 days left to wait. What's more, the pictures are also good news for Ford, because the next-generation Ka will share its underpinnings with the new 500. The current blue oval model is long overdue for replacement, as it was first introduced back in 1996.

Be part of something big