it's finally here...the new Fiat 500
Just the same way that children wait for the early hours of Christmas day to unpack the Christmas presents, some auto fanatics like me have waited a year for the 4th of July 2007 and this time not exactly to celebrate America’s Independence Day, but to be able to see the lavish party in Turin to mark the launch of one of the most cute yet chic cars the new fiat 500, exactly 60 years after the launch of the original model.
I have never been an avid Italian car fan but due to the fantastic marketing campaign which was forced upon on us, you can’t help to see and look forward to what it is all about and to be sincere the marketing team managed to create the same kind of expectation as if they are going to launch something more fast or expensive like a Ferrari, Lamborghini Bugatti or some other exotic cars. .
It may be a myth, but this is how the story goes: back in 1969, Fiat's cute 500 city car was all set to star in The Italian Job movie when some bright spark had the idea to use Minis instead. True or false, the film helped turn the Mini into a blockbuster, while the 500 slipped into the role of a B-lister.
Thirty-eight years since Michael Caine was left hanging over a precipice, Fiat is back with a new 500 – and they've got an old score to settle. Although prices and trim details are yet to be announced – the 500 won't go on sale in right hand drive until spring 2008 – the word
is that the new model will go head to head with its old rival.
Much like Mini, Fiat has gone to great lengths to maintain the charm of the original car.With a simple, elegant dash dominated by a large speedometer, flush-fitting switches and a colour-coded cream steering wheel, the ambience of the 500 is of an altogether more innocent era.
Not that your choice of decor restricts you to retro chic. With the aid of a special website, you'll be able to experiment with all manner of different trim and colour combinations before placing your order for Fiat's new baby.
Fiat has done a great job of re-inventing a design classic, but much has changed in the process. For a start, the engine is now up front rather than, as with the original, at the rear.
Also, to retain the short overhangs and bottle-nosed look, a whole new approach to crash protection was required. Substantial extra bracing at the front and the fitting of seven airbags were deemed essential.
Additional challenges lay in maintaining the curving roofline and pyramid-like profile of the original while also supplying enough cabin space for four and decent luggage room.
The solutions included widening the axles and hiding a less curvy side profile beneath a rear roof spoiler. The results are wholly successful.
As I mentioned earlier the marketing campaign down to the new TV advertisement is just irreproachable and will help to make this little fiat another sure hit just like the mini...