Small cars have always had one of two personalities. They were either as cheap as chips or trendy, carefree, and fun. Well, apart from the ones that marketing people like to call “fun to drive” (eg the Dodge Neon and it’s, cough, siblings).
The trouble with small cars for the mass market is the fact they’re small. The mass market doesn’t do small. SUVs and trucks fill American roads, and are a fast growing part of the traffic in most other countries. Small just doesn’t cut it with most of the population.
So makers of small cars have to work had to appeal to as much of the small-loving market as possible. The BMW Mini (built in Britain and designed in California by an American who was born in Casablanca, to a Norwegian and Spanish parents, for a German company) has spawned a hardtop, Clubman, Countryman, Coupe, and Roadster. If you throw in the whole gamut of options for colors, wheels, stripes, and god knows what else, it’s amazing that any two of them are the same. What they do share is the cute-gene the first one was born with. I mean the roadster is pretty ridiculous, but the whole lot managed to broaden the appeal of the brand while retaining the original’s looks. And they’ve managed to grow in size.
So, if the American/Casablancan/Norwegian/Spanish/German/British mix can turn out a range of small cars, what about the Italians?
No, no, stop laughing and pick yourselves up off the floor – you’re forgetting the Fiat 500. Not the 1960’s rust bucket, the shiny new 21st century one.
Surely this could be transformed into something a little larger for people who have things – like families, for example?
Well, yes it can. Enter the Fiat 500L, the five door Fiat 500. It’s claimed that the “L” suffix stands for “long,” but I suspect it really means lame. I mean, how difficult can it be to take something so cool it spawns ads like this
and turn it into something larger but cool.?
Apparently, quite difficult if you’re Fiat …
I mean, the front’s been squared off and the lights are smeared across the front like melting clocks. The curves that graced the original’s windscreen have been replaced by straight lines from the laziest-way-to-get-from-A-to-B styling handbook.
The rear eschews the charm of the base car for what must have been an unused idea in the Fiat corporate designs-that-didn’t-work bin. Quite possibly in the heavy earth lifting equipment designs-that-didn’t-work bin. I mean if Fiat really wanted a car like this why didn’t they just sell their existing Fiat Panda?
So, what do you think? Long or Lame? Little or large? Which do you prefer?
(Images courtesy of wikipedia.org and Paultan.org)
I’m going to go with Lame here. I think it’s a dud. Generally I’m not a Fiat fan, although I do like that commercial for the 500. Everyone I’ve ever known who has owned a Fiat has confirmed that FIAT truly does stand for “Fix It Again, Tony.” Is that true about its multicultural heritage? That’s pretty funny.
I suspect that a lot of design features that work fine on a small, mini-type car often don’t translate well if you try to apply them on bigger cars. So I’ll give Fiat credit for the effort, but not for the actual result.
Yes, the Mini really does have a multicultural heritage – no fiction there. Fiat’s have improved, like many auto makers, as a result of the competition from the far east. I really think “cute” can only be applied to things that are relatively small – even a tiny tank could be regarded as cute!
I’ve never been a fan of smaller. I know – I drive a Ford Escape, which is a miniature version of an SUV. But I really prefer larger, comfier vehicles. My all-time favorite car was the 1958 Cadillac Sedan deVille. By today’s standards, it was a block long.
Ah yes, the 1958 Cadillac Sedan deVille. I think I once saw one of those docked and taking on supplies!
Yes, small is cute, but also frustrating if you actually want to put things in them.