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Wayne Cunningham/CNET

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 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