Tag Archive | "FIAT"

Everybody Loves A Panda

Being able to offer something truly unique in the increasingly competitive SUV segment is no small achievement but in the FIAT Panda Cross that’s exactly what you get – a car like no other!

panda2 Everybody Loves A PandaIn 2006 SUVs accounted for around seven percent of the total car market in Europe whereas today they account for approximately twenty percent, and yet despite the proliferation of models in the past decade the Panda Cross remains a truly unique offering by combining the genuine capabilities of a proper off-road vehicle with the efficiency and practicality of a versatile city car.

The technological upgrades of the FIAT Panda Cross make it the most capable vehicle in its class by some margin yet it is a car that could still be chosen purely for its low running costs, day-to-day practicality and general ease and pleasure of use. The aesthetic enhancements not only provide some visual clues to the all-road potential, they also perform the functional role of protecting its bodywork, lights and mechanical components, both in extreme off road conditions and the rough and tumble of city traffic.

The Panda was the first to be offered with all-wheel drive in its segment, as well as the first to be powered by diesel, methane and LPG. More recently it pioneered City Brake Control in its segment, a safety feature that is ideally suited to city cars but until that time was reserved for larger luxury vehicles. It’s this reputation for practical innovation that has consistently kept the Panda amongst the best sellers in its class.

The front end of the new Panda Cross is dominated by a chunky new bumper which features scratch and bump resistant corner sections and a large, functional skidplate enhanced with cooling perforations. The skidplate is further embellished with a pair of easily-accessed tow hooks, finished in brilliant red, as well as new LED daytime running lights located in protective recesses. The new head-light clusters are framed with matte black surrounds and incorporate pronounced new fog lights, while the bonnet trim is also redesigned.panda3 Everybody Loves A Panda

The seats are trimmed in bespoke natural fabrics with brown eco-leather bolsters (which match the brown door panels) while the dashboard is finished in a new copper colour to set off the striking new silver “ultrashine” finish of the instrument surround and audio system facia. The same finish is also used for the centre console, where the new Terrain Control drive selector is conveniently located.

Terrain Control offers FIAT Panda Cross drivers the possibility of adjusting the vehicle’s driving characteristics according to how it is being used: There are three modes: Auto, Off-Road and Hill Descent Control all of which are self-explanatory.

The FIAT Panda Cross also benefits from versatile all-season 185/65R15 Mud & Snow tyres. Larger than those of the standard Panda 4×4, these tyres were specially developed to ensure optimum traction and responsiveness on wet and dry surfaces, as well as snow-covered roads, while also ensuring excellent off-road performance. With a selection of economical engines and many personalisation options it kind of gives you a reason to look forward to winter doesn’t it?

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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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The Ghibli – In A Class Of Its Own

According to some academics and the government (so it must be true!) all of us apparently fit into one of seven new social classes in this, our  classless society. We all have dreams and aspirations and hope to move and improve our lives as we go forward and one thing we can all aspire to without wearing a social label is the buying of a nice new car.

Today, that car is the Maserati Ghibli. That’s it in the picture and isn’t it just about the most desirable thing on four wheels? Let us hope that the negative aspects attached to that name don’t appear on this version. The Ghibli first came to light in 1967 and was a shark-nosed two door coupé with a V8 motor. That run ended in 1973 until the name resurfaced in 1992 on the second Ghibli, a bi-turbo. That lasted for another five years.

Both cars were obviously fantastic, being of Italian manufacture but, being of Italian manufacture, suffered from quality and reliability problems and – it goes without saying – the dreaded rust. Nevertheless, they are very sought after by collectors today.

Clearly Maserati and their masters at FIAT have different plans for the future. This new car, which joins the expensive Quattroporte and Granturismo on the roll-call, is expected to be competitively priced around the £50,000 mark to enable it to compete with the likes of the Jaguar XF and the BMW 5 Series in the prestige sector. The company want to be selling fifty thousand units overall within a couple of years and the Ghibli – coupled with the arrival of the Kubang SUV – is likely to spearhead their campaign.

The Ghibli will be the first Maserati to offer a diesel engine. Both it and the petrol version will be 3.0L V6 power plants. Both will have an eight-speed ZF auto-transmission and in addition to the rear-wheel drive will also be available with the new Q4 four-wheel drive system, although this is unlikely to be available in the UK. At some point in the future a V8 will make an appearance.

From the first glance this car could only be a Maserati. The Italians seem to be able to turn drawing board beauty into reality with every car, unlike some manufacturers; although here in the UK we seem to be turning out some lookers as well. The Ghibli has a luxurious interior and even has – shock, horror – a proper actual switch to operate the lights.

This car is distinctive and elegant in the way that only, for the most part, Italian cars can be. Let’s hope that the reliability issues are a thing of the past. Maserati are launching the Ghibli officially at the Shanghai Motor Show at the end of the month. The question is – will it be able to lure away the fans of the German cars that dominate this sector or will it be in a class of its own?

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FIAT 500 Grows Up And Starts A Family

La Dolce Vita. A lifestyle that spawned a car; or maybe it was the other way round. Either way the current FIAT 500 is a reminder of the iconic original that belonged to that carefree epoch and has, as a consequence, become the company’s best selling car.

Because of the popularity of the 500, FIAT have now produced a bigger brother, the 500L. Thankfully, it is not simply a lardier version of the original but rather a modern and very Italian take on the small MPV. This is the start of the branding of the 500. A ‘trekking’ version has already been announced – more of which below – and there’ll be a seven seat version and a mini-SUV to follow in due course.

There are four engine options with the 500L including a diesel and the now ubiquitous Twin-Air two cylinder motor, which seems like the right choice for this car. Reactions to the body shape and high-riding stance are mixed. Some like the quirky approach to styling, others think it is a little ungainly. The company seem to be aiming this car at young families who have outgrown their 500 but it is also likely to appeal to older drivers who like the raised ride height, comfortable cabin and great all-round visibility.

The 500L is designed for practicality with sliding, splitting rear seats and a height adjustable 400 litre boot. Overall it’s a winner and the coming version choice seems to emulate the approach taken by Mini with something for everyone in the family catalogue.

For the more adventurous, FIAT showed the ‘Trekking’ option at the recent Geneva Motor Show. This looks like the one to go for if your family like the outdoor life as the car features FIAT’s innovative Traction+ system. This is not, as the name might suggest, a four wheel drive but rather a clever way of boosting the front wheels’ ability to find traction and thus be able to cope with gnarly or slippery surfaces. This is a great idea that helpfully avoids the additional running costs of a traditional 4×4 whilst giving the driver more confidence on the road.

All the expected features are on offer, Bluetooth and the like, and the cabin is well appointed although it is not the same as the smaller car. It’s more like the interior of the Panda, but that’s no bad thing. Road test reports suggest that the 500L isn’t really a drivers car. The comfortable ride mean there is some lean in corners and the steering is light and maybe a little vague. Most buyers won’t be concerned about this as sportiness isn’t the vehicle’s raison d’être. Overall, FIAT have cracked it with the 500L, the only caveat being the price. The Twin-Air model is almost £15k; that’s considerable more expensive than similar competitors, but the 500L is a stylish offering and it is sure to appeal to the modern customer.

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Thirteen For 13

Are you superstitious? Would you be entirely happy with the number 13 on your car? Well, unless you can find a way around it – as suggested by Motor Blogger last year – you are just going to have to lump it. Our unwavering government have no intention of ditching this year’s series just to please the likes of you.

Never mind. At least there is going to be a fantastic selection of new cars that you could attach to the back of your new number plate. Honda, for example, are planning a new SUV in line with current trends that will be pitched into the gap between the Civic and the CRV. An interesting point is that it may feature Honda’s next-generation hybrid technology.

If you’re feeling flush with cash you could push the boat out and treat yourself to Jaguar’s forthcoming F Type. This may well be the most anticipated car of the year; full of lovely supercharged goodness. Too tame for your wallet? Fair enough. How about the long-awaited replacement for the Enzo, the F70. Or will it be the F150? We’ll see what Ferrari decide although Ford America won’t be too happy as that’s the designation for their new pick-up!

Back in the real world Fiat are offering the 500L. We’ve mentioned this before. Basically it’s a 500 on steroids. Presumably this is designed to rival the giant Mini and word has it that this could be one of the year’s best sellers. As indeed could the 500 Coupé , a cheeky 2+2 version of the perennial favourite. Meanwhile over the border in France, Citroen’s successful DS3 is taking it’s top off, or at least rolling it up – a feature that really suits this star car.

For hot hatch fans Ford will be selling the long awaited Fiesta ST, sporting at least 180bhp. If a suitable family car is more to your requirements then there’s a new package with the latest Kia Carens SUV (pictured) – the words on the grapevine are ‘surprise’ and ‘delight’. Not content to settle for one new car, the same company will present their first hot hatch in the UK. The Cee’d GT. Boasting a muscular 200bhp it looks like a rival for the ST.

Winner of this year’s daft name award is the mighty Maserati Kubang. Effectively a Ferrari powered Jeep in an Italian designer frock it’s a new departure for a company that is slowly resurrecting its image. The trouble is – is it a car too far for a company noted for beautiful design? The official Kubang website is showing a wonderful old and evocative short film called ‘A story that will overcome time’. Worth a look.

Mazda’s 6 is a good and popular choice, especially if you are not badge conscious but now they’ve produced a coupé version that’s a real looker. Let’s hope it gives a boost to this underrated manufacturer. If you do like a badge then Mercedes are refreshing the E-Class. Not earth-shattering in itself but the company are saying it will be packed with cutting edge technology under the banner ‘intelligent drive’.

In fact, there will be something like sixty new or updated cars being sold or announced in the coming year, but in this brief article there is only one car that can finish of the list. Will we finally be able to get our hands on the Alfa Romeo 4C? Live in hope.

So there you have it – thirteen cars for 2013. So don’t worry your heads about the reputation of the number 13. You know what they say – lucky for some!

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