Tag Archive | "fiat 500"

The Joy Of Special Edition Cars

We all know and love the brilliantly flawed FIAT Cinquecento, badged in the UK as the 500. It’s as Italian as Silvio Berlusconi and probably more reliable. The hot versions are emblazoned with the legend that is Abarth. Well, a while back you could have treated yourself to the Abarth 695 Maserati Edition. If you fancy standing out from the crowd it will cost you a measly £32,000. Apparently the price includes a set of ‘stunning’ Tramontano leather luggage. Have you ever tried to get luggage into a 500?

This follows on from the madness of four years ago when the company announced an equally barking Ferrari Edition and FIAT are not the only company beset with occasional bouts of insanity. You must be aware of the Aston Martin Cygnet, which is simply a tarted up and re-badged Toyota IQ that becomes, in the words of the company, a ‘bespoke luxury commuter car’. Per-lease. It’s actually a cynical ploy to get around EU emission regulations for bringing down manufacturer ‘fleet average’ mpg. Someone’s been buying it. Two years ago MINI got in on the act by announcing the ‘Inspired by Goodwood’ edition for a breathtaking £41,000! Read that number again. Apparently this model was to be made of ‘specially selected materials and precise craftsmanship to guarantee the highest degree of comfort’. At that price I should jolly well think so.

The history of the motor industry is littered with cars such as these; pointless promotions for people with more money than sense. For the price of some of these cars the canny buyer could afford a good new or used car from a prestige maker. For £41k you’re almost into a nearly new Porsche Boxster or M Series BMW. Top of the range models across the board are available at these prices. Surely the idea of small ‘city’ cars is to provide a reasonable urban drive at low cost?

But I’m being unkind. If someone is so mentally unhinged as to think these cars are a good idea, who am I to argue, because there have been some truly terrible examples of special editions down the years. To demonstrate this I give you the ultimate pimp-mobile – the 1979 Cadillac Seville by Gucci! As you can see from the image this fine car also comes with a set of matching luggage and sports the famous ‘Double G’ logo. Groovy.

Yet the Caddy must pale into insignificance compared to the magnificent – and I’m not making it up – 1982 Frank Sinatra Edition Chrysler Imperial. In the hope that some of Frankie’s fame would rub off on the company, they issued this vehicle with a special silver-blue paint job and a leather briefcase full of tapes of recordings by Old Blue Eyes himself.

It didn’t work.

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FIAT Gets Fatter

Last March, Motor Blogger told you about the new FIAT 500L, a sort of small MPV based on the iconic design original. We suggested there was likely to be a family of them and so it is proving. Like an overfed Italian child, the original diminutive 500 has grown and grown until it is now reached its corpulent maturity in the form of the FIAT 500L MPW.

MPW stands for Multi-Purpose Wagon, presumably to differentiate the car from its MPV sibling. In most of Europe it will be called ‘Living’ and the interior is referred to as the ‘living space’, because, say FIAT, the car is ‘for living life to the full’.

Anyone who is not yet convinced that cars are turning from proper automobiles into lifestyle accessories must finally see the light. The trouble is, cars have become so well built and reliable these days that manufacturers are having trouble making their products seem different from the rest. This sort of thing is the result, alas.

Enough of this carping – let’s review the car. It’s wider than the 500L and is a seven seater. The rear seats fold flat as is usual. FIAT reckon it is the most compact car in this segment yet they haven’t stinted on space or generous boot capacity.500MPW2 FIAT Gets Fatter

The 500L MPW will be built in Serbia and launched in Italy in July. It will gradually spread across Europe subsequently. If you like the look of it then check with your dealer. At launch it will be powered by a choice of 2 petrol engines, a 1.4L of 95hp and the 0.9L Twin-Air turbo with a sprightly 105hp. Two turbo-diesels complete the line-up.

The ‘Living’ will offer two trim levels, ‘Pop-Star’ and ‘Lounge’ (ye gods). With a choice of nineteen body colours (11 of which can be two-tone). A collection of interior trims that include leather and a big choice of alloy wheels. In short, 282 combinations are available. Cameras and navigation are amongst the options available. No word on price yet.

It seems like the FIAT 500L MPW is trying to be all things to all men. They allege that the car is as agile as a city car, has the comforts of a station-wagon and the versatility of an MPV. Let’s hope it is a decent driver because other than the young and impressionable who might think it‘s funky, it is hard to get past the silly names. Let’s hope also that the car is otherwise as versatile as they are saying because there is certainly a place these days for the all-purpose vehicle when running more than one car is beyond the means of many.

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New Cars, A Concept – And A Gearbox

Not so long ago Motor Blogger detailed the FIAT 500’s bigger brother, the 500L and assumed that was it, for now at least. Not so, apparently, because the larger car has clearly been at the steroids and morphed into the 500XL – a seven seat leviathan that is now production ready. There it is in the picture.

The car maintains the family resemblance from nose to C-pillar but the rear overhang is longer and rear quarter lights bigger. Like its siblings, it’s a good looking car. No details have been revealed yet although the 500XL will probably offer the same engine line-up as the 500L. We’ll see it officially at the Frankfurt Show in September with order books opening shortly thereafter. The name is possibly up for changing so as not to confuse buyers with 500X, a crossover version due next year.

Rolls Royce have confirmed that there will be a convertible Wraith within the next couple of years but they have, they insist, no plans for an SUV type vehicle. What is likely though is that the ageing Phantom may well be replaced by a new model although the time scale is vague. More than three years away allegedly. What is interesting though is that it is likely to be a plug-in hybrid. Who’d have thought it? RR can clearly see that hybrid is the way to go, particularly as restrictions in city centres may well require an electric only option at some future time.

Ford have revealed a new concept in the form of the Fiesta eWheelDrive utilising in-wheel hub electric motors. Right now it is just a test bed but is an intriguing prospect if it should come to fruition. The two motors are in the back wheels. Right now the batteries are under the bonnet but the plan is to house them under the floor in later versions.

By configuring the layout in this way the space under the bonnet becomes superfluous. The thinking is that the car can be the same size as a two-seater whilst continuing to seat four. The concept, it is hoped, will lead to improvements in urban mobility and parking through the production of smaller, more agile vehicles. If that wasn’t enough, the steering design could allow for moving sideways into parking spaces.

The only issue that we can see is that dreaded word ‘urban’. When are car companies going to realise that not everybody lives in the city. Before getting too clever with the technology how about developing an electric vehicle that will suit the needs of country folk too?

Finally, Volkswagen are in the process of developing a ten-speed gearbox and the question is often asked as to why. How many gears are enough? In fact there are very good reasons for eight, nine or even ten gears. More gears give engineers more spread to work with. First gear can be shorter for improved acceleration from rest while the higher gears can improve fuel economy. This greater spread means that smaller, more economical engines can be used in bigger vehicles. Clearly an auto ’box will be essential.

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