Two all-new models make their red-carpet debut at this year’s Geneva Motor Show: firstly, the Fiorino in the people carrier variant and secondly the Fiat 500 Aria, a concept car which practically illustrates the Fiat Group’s commitment to protecting the environment and sustainable transport.
Born originally as a commercial vehicle, the Fiorino ‘MPV’ firmly asserts itself as an “alternative car with personality”. Compact external dimensions – 3,96 metres longs, 1,72 high and 1,71 metres wide – which linked to a turning circle of only 10,15 metres, allow the new Fiat Fiorino to tackle easily either the narrow streets of a city-centre or the slaloms imposed by urban traffic.
The rear black mud-guard (also available in the colour of the chassis) is very robust and wrapped so to protect in an excellent manner the most delicate areas – spotlights, bonnet and radiator – especially at lower speeds.
The same “security” is given both by the rubbing strips which allow, in perfect tranquility, manoeuvres in tight spots or corners; and by the rear-view mirrors (black or the chassis colour) which guarantee an excellent visibility reducing the “blind spot”.
To heighten visibility yet further, the new car proposes broad glass surfaces as shown by the rear side doors and the large wind-shield (the front uprights are also reduced). Even the side windows create an original “sleek” form, which when combined with the important forms at mudguard level render the body even more dynamic.
The rear cargo-door is very characteristic as the skillful finish on the logo setting and the fluid glass style, confer an original and rare “treasure chest” style opening which distinguishes itself completely from typical van doors. (the asymmetrical rear doors are available as optional).
Completing the exterior style we have the elegant group of rear and front optics – distinguished by the chrome and transparency, as well as a high position well by any potential bumps. The front and rear doors (the latter always sliding) with a broad glass surface are fitted with convenient handles. Lastly, the client can chose between 10 different colours and two types of upholstery.
Special attention has been given to the aerodynamics, a very important factor if we consider the effects on performance, consumption and acoustic comfort. The final result is an excellent co-efficient of aerodynamic resistance equal to 0,31 and an excellent Cx product for the frontal area. (0,828 m2)
Up to now we’ve been discussing the exterior form. But it’s inside that the new Fiorino really comes into it’s own.
Thanks to an original concept – called “free space” – which combines different seat configurations (at least 6 the most instant) with rationality and regularity in the interior form. In this manner, we obtain an excellent usable space for space and flexibility: for example with the seats in normal positioning, the boot has a capacity of 330 litres (up to the luggage rack) and of 650 litres if measured up to the roof.
Instead, if the rear and front seat are removed, the total volume is 2.800 litres with a boot capable of holding objects almost 2,5 metres long (a real record, if we take into account the vehicle is only 3,9 metres long).
So much space and flexibility, but Fiat Fiorino is a comfortable car with all the mod-cons as the modular and symmetrical “T” shaped dashboard demonstrates. The driver has within easy reach all the controls of a rich instrument panel.
On board comfort also means lots of space available: above the central console you can have spacious compartments or alternatively a handy clipboard with clips for taking notes. There’s also lots of space at the base of the gearshift, and on the dashboard itself thanks to a spacious compartment with large dimensions.
Even the door panels have been designed to offer lots of space as well as a comfortable arm rest. The central tunnel has been made into a practical central console.
Also contributing to the on-board satisfaction are the rear seats which are very comfortable and fitted with all the regular functions.
As alternative to the standard passenger seat, also available is a special seat that when folded in one easy move, can “disappear” positioning itself on the boot level (in the in-between position it can act as a comfortable table).
Available in the 1/3 and 2/3 configurations, the rear seats can be folded like “a book” or removed (either partly or completely), so offering surprising load capacities and flexibility of use. Lastly, the boot compartment is spacious and very regular whilst the rigid divider has the advantage of almost “vanishing” if placed in the space between the seat and the wheelhouse.
In European spec, Fiat Fiorino proposes two Euro 4 engines – the brilliant 1.3 Multijet 75CV and the reliable 1.4 73CV petrol engine – which are distinguished by the driving pleasure, excellent performances and reduced running costs, as well as reliability and respect for the environment.
The Multijet is available with both a five-speed manual and a six-speed auto box, while the petrol version is mated exclusively to the 5-speed manual box.
A Fiat Fiorino fitted with diesel propulsion, for example, is very respectful of the environment – some versions have CO2 emissions lower than 120 g/km – and if fitted with a particulate filter (optional) the emission levels of particulate reach just 0.005 g/km (in accordance with the Euro 5 limits).
As confirmation of it’s “ecological” calling, the Fiat Fiorino will also offer in due course an electric version with 0 emissions, made in commercial collaboration with Microvett, Italian specialists of electrical transformations.
The guaranteed autonomy is of a 100 km, charge time is around 3 hours with a 9 Kw plug (6-8 hours with a 3 Kw plug). The acceleration and top speeds are beyond criticism: 0-50 km/h in 7 seconds and 80 km/h.
The Fiorino, including the new MPV version, is currently being evaluated for the South African market.
Fiat 500 Aria Concept
Geneva hosts the global premiere by Fiat Automobiles of the Concept car 500 Aria which furthers the exploration of new “ecological” frontiers in the automotive sector.
Manufactured on the base of the Fiat 500 – it’s the first model in its sector with the entire range of Euro5 Ready motors – the Concept car 500 Aria adopts all the latest generation gadgets or those which will be available soon, allowing a significant reduction of consumption and emissions. Specifically, thanks to the solutions applied, the vehicle accomplishes an important lowering of the CO2 with a record value of 98 g/km.
In detail, the prototype is equipped with a Diesel 1.3 16v Multijet Euro 5 powerunit (with anti-particulate DPF filter) combined with robotic Dualogic shift (distinguished by a transmission and control box with the best containment of consumption).
Furthermore, the vehicle proposes the innovative Stop&Start system which allows to control the temporary switch-off of the engine and it’s subsequent ignition, typical of urban journeys. In particular, uniting the Stop&Start system and the Dualogic shift, around a 10% (urban cycle) reduction of the consumption is obtained. It’s worth underlining that all the solutions presented here are an integral part of a development process which, already in 2008, will see some of these elements incorporated into normal production Fiat vehicles.
The prototype’s interior foresees the use of recycled materials, for example, the recycled rubber used for the floor is composed by rubber granules deriving from used tyres, “anchored” together with polyurethane binders.
The seats have been upholstered with recycled and woven leather (called “mataleather, and supplied by the Matamata company) whilst the fabrics – guaranteed by the Ecolabel brand – are in polyester and in a particular design similar to the raffia palm with natural whirls (supplied by the Apollo company).
“Mataleather” is born out of the re-use of leather amalgamated with natural lattice and subsequently worked in sheets like real leather. The “DNA” Braided leather (the material used on the 500 Aria) is worked on until it forms a textile of real ecological leather, composed only by natural re-used fibres.
With regard to the textiles, Ecolabel is the European eco-quality brand that rewards the best products from an ecological point of view – the whole life-cycle is taken into account – whilst maintaining at the same time high performance standards.
Lastly, some important interior components – from the climate control components to the panel fittings – are made in materials composed of a combination of thermoplastics and natural fibres.