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Fiat 500 Abarth show debut

Published: 06 March 2008

What’s new on Fiat's Geneva Motor Show stand?

Amongst the kinky white boots and retro chandeliers Fiat rolled out their eco-loving theme across the whole range with three uncloakings: the fresh Fiorino, 500 Aria concept and Panda Aria prototype.

The 500 Aria showcased a Euro 5 friendly 98g/km diesel 1.3 16v Multijet engine with a Stop&Start system (better for emissions, better for premature starter motor wear) and predominantly recycled interior materials.

With its neat SGE 900cc turbo twin-pot Multiair petrol/methane/hydrogen drinking powerplant the Panda Aria concept also showed off natural biodegradable internals but also quirky, semi-translucent renewable ‘eco resin’ exterior panelling decorated with mummified leaves.

Besides a dose of weight saving, the Panda Aria featured a USB data-logging system which could keep a record of the fuel consumption characteristics of every journey and provide the driver with advice on how to drive more ‘ecologically’. As if the Italians would take any notice. Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne could barely be bothered to stay interested as the covers were tugged.

Finally, the Fiorino – sister of the Peugeot Bipper and Citroen Berlingo – was on show for all to see. Forget the bulbous conk and it’s a useful looking commercial-based MPV with twin sliding doors and a load volume of 2800-litres. Families seeking a budget clobber carrier can buy it from this summer.

CAR highlight

Without wanting to sound shallow, the Fiat stand featured the funkiest femmes and most fetching furniture. Sofas made to look like pebbles and a monstrous, five times larger than life 500 dwarfing the hall corner. The Fiorino’s concave tailgate is strangely alluring.

Oh, and although not strictly on the Fiat stand (or anywhere near it) the highlight was the Abarth 500. Not quite as much of a steroided-up pulse racer as expected (wait for the SS version) but nevertheless a handsome version with enamel scorpion badges and more interesting than Mini’s barrage of option-laden fashion wagons.

What were they thinking?

It’s all geared around being greener, hence the models on display all weighed in at less than 120g/km C02 emissions. The extra thrifty Bravo 1.6 Multijet 120bhp robotic gearshift (120g/km) and Grande Punto 1.3 Multijet 90bhp common-rail diesel (119 g/km) made the line-up, along with the 1.2 methane burning two-wheel drive version of the Panda 4x4 Climbing.

In a nutshell

Fiat is cool again, and this time the cars don’t rust or chuck out much CO2. According to the company, the future is sustainable methane power.