Fiat to apply 500 and Panda formula to entire range by 2016 | CAR Magazine

Fiat to apply 500 and Panda formula to entire range by 2016

Published: 24 April 2013 Updated: 26 January 2015

Like the retro-cute Fiat 500 and boxy Panda? They’ve won over enough buyers to convince Fiat to completely re-launch its model range themed around its two city cars by 2015. Next up after the 500L mini-MPV is a new supermini and family hatchback, and a flagship SUV crossover. Read on for the full scoop on Fiat’s supersized city car plans.

What’s next for the Fiat 500 range?

Alongside the regular hatchback, convertible 500c and new 500L mini-MPV, Fiat has signed off a 500X crossover, borrowing an idea from the successful Mini Countryman. The 500X will replace the outgoing Sedici crossover, and use a jacked-up ride height and plastic body cladding to give it the required rough-and-tumble look.

Next up in size is the upcoming 500XL, which will replace the Punto. Instead of occupying the outgoing Punto’s supermini territory, the 500XL will be sized (and priced) between regular supermini and family hatchbacks, and try to woo family buyers with a combination of cute 500 design cues and that niche-defying status. It’ll be based on the same architecture as the 500L and 500X, and like those cars, be sold in all global Fiat markets.

And we’re getting a new range of Fiat Pandas too?

Yes indeed, kicking off with a ‘Panda XXL’ in 2015. Essentially, it’s a replacement for the underwhelming Bravo, and will give Fiat a much-needed new Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra rival. However, don’t expect conventional hatchback proportions: the Panda XXL will use a high roofline and estate-like proportions, keeping the boxy Panda looks intact. Clearly Fiat are hoping to pull off the same trick as the Nissan Qashqai, which replaced the forgettable Almera to become Nissan’s best-selling car in the UK to date.

Think that’s as far as the Panda will stretch? Fiat disagrees. The final piece in the puzzle is a range-topping ‘giant Panda’ SUV-cum-people-carrier. It’ll replace the Fiat Freemont – aka the equally anonymous Dodge Journey, and give Fiat a foothold in the hotly contested family crossover segment, against cars like the Ford Kuga, Honda CR-V and regular seven-seaters like Seat’s Alhambra. Clearly getting Fiat Pandas to multiply is easier than their Edinburgh zoo-inhabiting namesakes.

>> Should Fiat be basing its entire range on the appeal of its cheapest, smallest cars? Click ‘Add your comment’ below to offer your verdict

By Georg Kacher

European editor, secrets uncoverer, futurist, first man behind any wheel