Fiat made two bold pledges at the launch of its iconic 500 in Italy last week: to be the greenest carmaker in the world and to back up its belief that the new 500 has Japanese car-matching quality with an ambitious new pan-European five-year/500,000km warranty.

Luca de Meo, CEO of the Fiat brand, said: “Our intention is to be the world benchmark for low environmental impact.”

His boss, Sergio Marchionne, the CEO of the Fiat Group, qualified that statement, declaring “our average CO2 will be the lowest among European markets by 2010”.

Given that Fiat is already the greenest carmaker in Europe by such tailpipe CO2-related criteria – as revealed in Business Car, March 21 – it may not be the hardest pledge to maintain but is indicative of a brand that has regained its confidence in a way unthinkable just three years ago.

However, when asked what Fiat’s average CO2 figure would be in 2010, Marchionne was less specific: “That question is a tricky one and I am going to avoid it. But Fiat is in a fortunate position of being in the small car market so our engines have less propensity to emit CO2. Fiat will have the lowest weighted average CO2 relative to what others do and I’m confident Fiat is the only car company able to do this.”

With UK list prices and final specification for the 500 still to be decided ahead of its January on-sale date, a Fiat UK spokesman would only confirm that the new extended five-year/500,000km (or 310,000-mile) warranty would apply to the UK, probably tied up to a finance package, “though there was still a lot of detail to resolve”. Fiat’s current offer on other models is three years and 60,000 miles.

Special leasing deals and a possible fixed cut-price servicing package – confirmed for Italy as the car went on sale there 4 July – are also on the cards for UK customers.