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Fiat fits 500 with LCD instruments

Fiat demonstrated how advanced tech could improve even a low-budget model, outfitting its 500 Turbo and Abarth with LCD instrument clusters at the New York auto show.

Fiat 500 Turbo
Wayne Cunningham/CNET
Fiat 500 LCD
This LCD instrument panel in the Fiat 500 Turbo displays driver-configurable information. Sarah Tew/CNET

NEW YORK -- Fiat demonstrated the versatility of LCDs and its own forward thinking by showing off a new LCD instrument cluster for the Fiat 500. The LCD replaces the analog gauges on both the 500 Turbo and the Abarth .

The new virtual gauge shows the vehicle's speed in large digits in the top center. Underneath and to the sides are a variety of information that can be configured by the driver.

Running a demonstration program on the auto show floor, the LCD cycled through a number of configurations. The left side showed a tachometer gauge in varying formats as well as the engine temperature.

The right side included a fuel gauge and either the turbo pressure, an eco rating system, or the current engine power output as a percentage.

The middle of the LCD could display the current audio source or a lateral and longitudinal g-force indicator. It showed graphics of the car to alert the driver when a door or the hatch was open, and a rear-distance indicator based on sonar sensors to aid parking.

Although not the first LCD instrument cluster to appear in a car, the Fiat 500 Turbo and Abarth represent how this technology will filter down through automakers' product lineups to eventually arrive in less-expensive models.

Fiat 500 LCD
A different view on the LCD instrument panel shows a rear-distance indicator. Sarah Tew/CNET