Fiat previews a new Panda, and a whole Panda-based range of global cars


Fiat isn’t attending the Geneva Motor Show, but that hasn’t stopped it from going to Geneva … Italy. That’s right, there’s a dainty patch of ground in Brescia called Ginevra, which is Italian for Geneva. Fiat CEO and Stellantis’ chief marketing officer Olivier Francois has pulled another sly one, hosting his own miniature auto show at a bar in Ginevra to showcase Fiat’s coming range of global models. The presentation is all about the Panda, old and new, with Fiat reworking the spirit and ethos of the 44-year-old nameplate into four concepts that start with an all-new Panda on Stellantis’ global platform, then branch into two updates on popular current products and two all-new products.

After winning the Stellantis family sales title with 1.3 million units moved last year, Francois said of the brand, “[Our] next step will be to transition from local products to a global offer that can benefit all of our customers everywhere in the world,” embodying the philosophy that “functionality should never exist without fun.” A plan for sharing up to 80% of parts between models, on top of that shared platform, is the key enabler. And just as we mentioned yesterday with Jeep, Fiat’s talking big about the range of available powertrains, with ICE, EV, hybrid and PHEV in the mix.

 

Here’s the heart of the new range, your all-new Panda just like it says on the door, called “City Car” in the video. Fiat will present this one to itself and the world in July this year during the company’s 125th anniversary. In it can be seen the basic idea of the concept Fiat presented to itself as a 120th birthday present, the Centoventi Concept revealed at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show (the one in Switzerland). We heard nothing about the Centoventi after that, its fundamentals showing up first in the Citroen C3, and from there back to Fiat with this all-new Panda. Francois called this a sort-of “Mega Panda,” a phrase we want on a T-shirt, boasting a crossover-like upright design, higher driving position, and increased roominess.

The entire range will emphasize sustainability, ease-of-use, and modularity. The Panda demonstrates ease with the retractable charging cable emerging from the hood. Inside, the oval motif in places like the dashboard and seats recalls Fiat’s original factory in Turin, the Lingotto building with the oval test track called the La Pista 500 on its roof. If you’re looking for competition to the dashing little Renault 5 that did make the trek to Switzerland, this is it.

Here’s the one that could mean the most to our market, the pickup concept. Fiat owns the South American market, in part thanks to its Strada pickup that’s Brazil’s best-seller. Fiat thinks a compact double-cab hauler like this one could carry on the Strada’s success and open up new markets like Europe — where Fiat’s rebadged Mitsubishi pickup didn’t fare well. Is it out of the question that comes to the U.S. as a Fiat or a Ram? 

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The Fastback concept picks up the thread of two other favorite, Brazil’s Fiat Fastback and the global Tipo that’s a market favorite in the Middle East and Africa, and Turkey’s best-selling car. Francois claims the profile on this one as “proof FIAT can improve sustainable commitment without giving up on performance.”

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Another T-shirt slogan here, the “Giga Panda” family SUV, adding yet more capability and room to the more rugged Mega Panda. It’s the upright version of the Fastback concept, intending to challenge the still-popular Dacia Duster.

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Finally, the coolest of the bunch for outdoor types, the Camper, trying to draw a direct line to the hiked-up Panda 4×4 models that go back to the 1980s.

In four months, we’ll find out what the production version of the new Panda looks like. Francois said the brand will launch one new model per year for the next three years after the Panda, which would appear to mean that one of these concept isn’t going to see the light. 



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