Fiat introduces a Quattroporte – well, sort of.
As the year that wasn’t continues to limp towards an ever decreasing conclusion, and our plaintive requests to the authorities for a refund continues to fall upon deaf ears, the short-lived product offensive which briefly appeared to be taking place within the auto industry earlier in the Autumn appears to have sputtered and popped, rather like a badly misfiring internal combustion engine. Those infernal devices, which it seems are no longer to be mentioned amid polite company have become as much yesterday’s news as last week’s C-19 statistics.
But while Porsche’s Taycan suggests that electrification doesn’t necessarily mean the elimination of engagement, at the other end of the price spectrum, Fiat’s fully-electric nouva³ 500 lends equally optimistic voice to the notion that the new electric world order does not have to be as po-faced as some might have feared.
DTW has covered the e-500 – at least twice before – but earlier this week, Fiat announced UK pricing and specifications for their EV debutant, most of which you can read at will in the weekly comics, or indeed, on the FCA/Stellantis press release – which may or may not amount to the same thing, depending on how much coffee has been imbibed.
My own personal takeout from said press release was the following gem; “Since its debut in 1957, it could be said that the ‘clean face’ of the 500 can be linked to an electric car’s, a true one-off in the automotive landscape.” Which goes to prove that marketers can spin just about anything. It’s easy to see how they get on…
The more prosaic highlights however appear to be that production of the electro-Cinquecento will take place at Fiat’s Mirafiori plant in Turin, home also to centro stile, where the car was (we’d imagine) designed. Launch edition aside, the 500 will be available in three trim levels (Action, Passion and Icon) and two battery pack options (24kWh and 42kWh). But in addition to the two body configurations shown at launch earlier this year (hatchback and cabrio), FCA/Stellantis have now added a third.
3 being the magic number in this particular incarnation, the new addition is termed the 500 3+1. A standard Nouva³ 500 body dimensionally, but on the portside, the B-pillar has been removed and a small (make that very small indeed) rear hinged coach door has been added, “Just like the first 500 in 1957, which featured doors hinged to the rear,” according to Fiat’s deft, (or perhaps something that sounds like deft) PR.
Other points of reference to which FCA/Stellantis PR could have mentioned of course were the (R55) Mini Clubman of 2007 and Mazda RX8 of 2002, both of whom tried something similar to varying degrees of visual and commercial success.
Fiat claim the revised bodyside adds 30kg to the car’s weight, while aiding practicality. It remains to be seen how useful this will prove to be in the real world, especially since the aforementioned Clubman, which most closely resembles the 500’s arrangement wasn’t exactly a ringing success, but Fiat ought to be given credit for trying something, if not exactly new, at least novel – especially at this end of the market.
Of course, what this arrangement screams to some of us with longer memories is the ever-present ghost in the henhouse that is Lancia, who at one point in their history made something of a feature of pillarless body construction. Which quite naturally leads one to think Ypsilon and future thereof. I think it’s fair to say that we can now envisage the pale pullet’s nemesis made flesh.
According to FCA/Stellantis, “the 500 3+1 will firstly be made available for left-hand drive markets“, suggesting a right-hand drive model may follow. I wouldn’t be so sure. But please don’t take my word for this (or much else for that matter), FCA/Stellantis after all having form in confounding any or all tea-leaf predictions in the past. Meanwhile, UK (and Irish we assume) order books open in December, with first deliveries set to arrive in March 2021. Floormats will be available in September – allegedly.