Since 1984 the French firm Chatenet have been selling a tiny number of tiny cars.
At the moment there are 35 of these cars for sale. What do we find if we
take a closer look? The cheapest Chatenet costs €1900 and has a 4kW diesel engine, automatic transmission and looks like this. It bears a passing resemblance to a Fiat Cinquecento, perhaps.
This is the interior:
A 2005 Chatenet Media now takes on the Fiat Seicento, soft style. The dots-effect grille has been adopted recently on Mercedes CLS cars (but I may have that wrong as I have lost track of their name blizzard).
As with the 1999 car above, this one has around 21,000 km on the clock but costs €3500. The top speed of these cars is 45 kmph. They are intended only for local roads.
Around 2009 the style got a bit more aggressive. This is the Barooder which is nearly alright but the crease over the rear window is a real blemish. This one costs €4000 and has managed 50,000 km. It’s another 4kW diesel and like the first two is on sale in Italy.
The seller presented most of these photos with parts of the car cropped, as if it was too large to get it all into one photo. The Barooder almost manages to be a credible bit of industrial design.
At this time the name and styling policy changed. The 2009 CH 26 resembles a strange compound of Mini and a bit of Maserati. The Mini-esque example here is €7900, still with the 4kW diesel.
The Japanese have Kei cars and we have these. What is needed is the input of a good industrial designer. I expect that Chatenet is a small firm where the caprices of senior managers who know little of ID and who also have limited market-research capabilities don’t understand that hiring designer with, say, 3 years studio experience from any major manufacturer would pay serious dividends in raising the standard of these cars.
The current range of these cars is made up variants of the CH26: a coupe (the title image, up above) a pick-up, an estate, a 15 kW car and one with a folding sun-roof.