Ever since crossovers became a hot thing in the early-2000s, seemingly every car manufacturer has taken the leap into the nearly full crossover pool. The newest market is the compact crossover market, which is just getting started. Fiat has decided that it’s going to get into this side of the pool early on with a 500-based crossover.
This new crossover, which is set to debut in Europe next year, will add to the growing 500 lineup, which currently includes the 500, 500C, 500L and the 500 Abarth. This new vehicle, which the consensus says will be dubbed the 500X, will feature three different engines, Fiat’s two-cylinder turbocharged TwinAir engine, a 1.4-liter and a 1.3-liter turbo-diesel, and will be based on the 500L’s chassis.
If this model makes it to the U.S. – nothing is concrete on a U.S. release yet – it will have stiff competition from the MINI Countryman and a slew of new arrivals. No renditions or teaser images have been released yet, so we are all stuck using our imaginations. I seem to picture something similar to the Suzuki X-90 – one of my top-10 cool, yet ugly, cars – but with a hatch.
We honestly do understand Fiat’s slow-moving tactics here, but buyers are soon going to grow tired of the 500 model. Making subtle changes to an existing model to build buyer interest is a safe bet at first, but eventually buyers will start wondering what’s next and lose interest altogether. It has only been a year since Fiat’s return to the U.S., but it might be time to start considering moving more models to the U.S.
Then again, Fiat is on a slippery slope, as it is also trying to keep Chrysler’s head above water while trying to reintroduce its brand to the U.S. So let’s cut them some slack, for now…
Updated 07/04/2012: During the official debut of the new 500L, Fiat has also dropped some teaser images and a video on the upcoming 500X that will go on sale sometime in 2014. Hit he jump for the video. (Omniauto)
We are pretty open in letting you know that we have had it about up to *here* with the “new” 500 models that Fiat continuously releases. So oftentimes when we see a new 500 model we just continue on without stopping. They are typically unexciting and only add a slight difference from the original 500. It’s like getting rainbow sprinkles on strawberry ice cream instead of red sprinkles; they are the same sugary flavor, just a different color.
Well, when we came across the latest rendition of the 500, which is actually a custom build by Lazzarini Design, it was more like they dipped the ice cream in chocolate – you know, the cool stuff that hardens on the ice cream – added peanuts, then strapped a big nasty V-8 engine to the ice cream cone!
Yeah, it’s that freaking cool, but is this Fiat 550 Italia by Lazzarini Design realistic?
Click past the jump to read our full review on this custom Fiat 550 Italia.
When Fiat announced that it would release the 500 Abarth in Chrysler dealerships across the U.S., they initially built just 1,000 examples. Yeah, that wasn’t enough, as the preliminary orders alone exceeded 1,000 units, so Fiat upped the number to 3,000 units. It looks like that wasn’t quite enough either, as Chrysler has shut off the ordering system for 2012 500 Abarths due to the factory in Mexico not being able to handle any more orders for this model year.
According to The Detroit News, there are still some Abarths in dealerships around the country sitting around as demos or cancelled orders. So this means that you may still be able to snag up a 2012 model, but it won’t be built to your requests. You would have to settle for what it comes with straight from the dealership’s floor.
Per Fiat’s website, there are zero 500 Abarths available throughout the country, but old faithful AutoTrader shows us that there are 205 listed on its site from all around the country. We wouldn’t be shocked if the majority of those are just baited hooks, in order to get a customer in so the dealer can say “Aw, we just sold that this morning, but we can take a deposit on a 2013 model.” If you have worked at a dealership before, you know exactly what we’re talking about.
If you are patient, you can just wait until September to order up a new custom fitted 500 Abarth, so there is no need to accept a model that doesn’t meet your needs. Just make sure you get in early to beat the rush that we all expect there to be for this model year.
We often talk about how mergers and shared productions have really made the automotive world do a complete 180 in recent years. A great example of this is back in the late-1980s when Ferrari and Maserati were direct competitors and no one could have ever imagined that in 1999, Ferrari would have complete ownership of Maserati. Then, Maserati ended up being split between Alfa Romeo and Ferrari in 2005.
What would be good for a barrel of laughs would be to travel to the mid-1980s and tell Enzo Ferrari that in 2012 his company would be manufacturing a pair of engines for Maserati. Well, all irony aside, that is exactly what’s happening, but also included in this €50 million ($62 million) production deal are Alfa Romeo and Lancia. All four of these models are under the only ownership umbrella that rivals Volkswagen AG, Fiat S.p.A., which is what allows them to share information without fear of losing sales to one another.
The first engine to hit the market will likely be a twin-turbo V-6 powerhouse that will crank out up to 450 ponies. The second engine to come from this development sharing will be a naturally aspirated (non-turbo) V-8 model that will likely crest the 500-horsepower mark. Alfa Romeo has had plans for a replacement for its sports sedan, the 159, but a proper engine hasn’t been developed for it yet. These engines would certainly fit the need and give it a whopping 200- to 300-horsepower increase over the 2011 159’s 3.2-liter V-6.
For Lancia, we really can’t see a model that these engines are suited for, as Lancia currently only has a rebadged Chrysler 200 in its lineup. Maserati can slap either of these engines in any of its cars and it would look right at home, as long as all “Ferrari” badges are stripped. Then again, the automotive world could pay back Maserati by forcing it to slap a “by Ferrari” tag on it like the 1989 through 1991 Chrysler TC by Maserati that we all know and “love.”
We’ll keep you updated on this as more information becomes available.
After hearing plenty of these rumors, Fiat Chairman, John Elkann, had enough and announced at a shareholder meeting that Fiat is not interested in acquiring any percentage of Mazda in the future. Fiat does plan on adding a Japanese partner in the future to help expand its global reach, but there is no mention of what companies Fiat is considering.
We would not be surprised to find out that this is simply a rouge to not tip its hand too early. It only makes sense for the two to partner up in a larger sense, as Mazda needs some help getting over the recovery hump and Fiat needs a Japanese partner. It would be a win-win situation, so we’ll see if Fiat’s tune changes after testing out Mazda’s abilities with the Mazda Miata-Alfa Romeo Spider production deal.
Fiat is planning a little bit of expansion soon though. In July 2012, Fiat is planning to expand its ownership in Chrysler by an additional 3 percent, bringing its total ownership to over 60 percent. Over the course of time, Fiat plans to jump its overall Chrysler ownership to 100 percent, giving it complete control over the recovering automaker’s operations and profit.
It definitely looks like Fiat is on the right track here so far. We will keep you updated as its expansion continues.
Just a few days ago, we reported that Mazda and Fiat have joined forces to jointly produce a new sports car based on the upcoming redesigned MX-5 Miata. Fiat would use this opportunity to revive the once popular Alfa Romeo Spider, the car whose shoes the MX-5 filled back in 1990. This could not only revive the Spider overseas, but it could also bring Alfa Romeo back into the U.S. market at a reasonable price.
Recently, at a Chrysler event, a reporter from Reuters learned that this relationship may go even further than simply jointly manufacturing a sports car. The report states that Fiat is also open to allowing Mazda to use Chrysler plants to manufacture their North America-bound cars. This would obviously help Mazda a great deal, as importing cars from Japan to North American countries is extremely expensive and drives up the cars’ MSRPs, which in turn drives customers out of dealerships.
There is nothing official, but we could see something like the Ford-Mazda partnership that started in 1979 and effectively ended in 2010. This would result in various joint-ventures between Fiat, Chrysler, Alfa Romeo, and Mazda, making the group one that rivals Volkswagen Auto Group, though a tad less luxurious and expensive. The advancements across the board, however, would be similar.
After some tough times, Mazda finally saw some gains in 2011, as its market share increased 9 percent that year, but it needs more to remain afloat. Mazda should see some additional increases over the next few year regardless, as the RX-8, which was down 33 percent in 2011, is being discontinued and the Miata, which was down 11 percent, is being significantly redesigned. A little added boost from a production-cost sharing venture with Fiat and Chrysler could do nothing but help all three rebounding brands and reinvent Alfa Romeo in the U.S.
Collaborative efforts aren’t anything new in the car world. Companies have been borrowing bits and pieces from each other for years, but lately it seems as though full blown projects are being split between companies to develop almost identical vehicles. Take Subaru and Toyota, for example. They joined forces to develop the new GT 86/BRZ sports car that carry identical parts with different maker flares. Now Fiat and Mazda are jumping on board the team builder wagon to produce a new small roadster based on Mazda’s next-generation MX-5 rear-wheel-drive architecture.
The two companies will have to develop two differentiated, distinctly styled roadsters and each variant will be powered by specific proprietary engines unique to each brand. Both models will be built at Mazda’s Hiroshima, Japan, plant with production for Alfa Romeo envisaged starting in 2015.
"Establishing technology and product development alliances is one of Mazda’s corporate objectives and this announcement with Fiat is an important first step in that direction. It is especially exciting to be collaborating with such a prestigious marque as Alfa Romeo on a new roadster based on the next-generation MX-5, which is such an iconic vehicle for Mazda and recognized as the best-selling roadster of all time." said Takashi Yamanouchi, Mazda’s Representative Director and Chairman of the Board, President and CEO.
"This agreement clearly demonstrates our commitment to Alfa Romeo and the determination to grow it into a truly global brand. By partnering with Mazda, we will be co-operating with the recognized leader in compact rear-drive vehicle architectures in order to deliver an exciting and stylish roadster in the Alfa Romeo tradition. We are appreciative of this collaboration with Mazda and look forward to maintaining a fruitful and continuous relationship." said Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne.
We have seen many automotive pranks in our time, but the following one definitely tops the list for ingenuity, skill, and creativity. It is unlikely to be topped in the near future, just because it is so impressive.
Volkswagen is unquestionably one of the world’s biggest companies with it owning a fairly large selection of other brands including Bugatti, Bentley, Seat, and even Lamborghini, so it obviously takes some creativity to get an upper hand over the competition. Fiat definitely did just that the other day, when they took the opportunity to take advantage of one of the numerous Google Street View vans driving across the globe, and capture something completely unique.
Both Volkswagen and Fiat have headquarters in Sweden and when workers at the Fiat HQ noticed the Google Street View car driving past, they rushed over to their competitor’s major branch in a brand new Fiat 500, 45 minutes away to capture the perfectly executed images you see in the gallery below.
The bright red Fiat 500 can be seen following the Street View car from a distance just seconds away from Volkswagen headquarters before speeding up Volkswagen’s driveway, pulling up in directly below the Volkswagen sign just in time for the images to be captured and then uploaded to Google Street View for the world to see.
And all of this happened in just a matter a seconds without VW having any idea about the stunt, meaning the German marque will have to accept having one of its competitors cars parked outside its showroom for at least a year.
Don’t however, expect VW to take this lightly. We suspect they’re already planning an ingenious way to get back at Fiat.
The Fiat 500 is a great little car for anyone who is going on a solo mission, but anyone with a couple of kids in tow may need to look elsewhere. Fiat, well aware of the gap in their lineup, will be addressing this issue at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show in March with the 500L- an all-new model that expands the appeal of the brand’s iconic Fiat 500.
The new 500L (L stands for "Large") is a five-passenger model that expands the brand’s style and efficiency in the growing B-segment. It will be 163.0 inches long, 70.1 inches wide, and 65.4 inches tall. Under the hood, Fiat will place a choice of two petrol engines - the 101 HP 1.4 liter in-line four-cylinder engine from the standard 500 and a TwinAir version - as well as one diesel turbocharged 1.3 MultiJet II engine.
The Fiat 500L will be produced at the FIAT plant in Kragujevac, Serbia, and will arrive in the United States in 2013.
UPDATE 04/27/2012: Ford has unveiled three new videos for their brand new 500L. The three videos were produced during the "500L: a Fiat design approach" event and include interviews with the Fiat designers: Giolito, Guasco, and Wuppinger.
UPDATE 07/10/12: A fresh new batch of photos of the Fiat 500L has been released by the Italian automaker. Head on over to the gallery to check them all out!
UPDATE 12/18/12: Arguably the funniest music video/car promo now belongs to Fiat and the 500L. The video, called, "The Motherhood ft. the Fiat 500L", stars a young mother with her three infant children, telling us the reality of being in the toughest hood of them all: the motherhood. It’s a ball of laughter through and through, so check it out after the jump!
What happens when an "American" car, like the Dodge Dart, wants an Italian name but also wants to live in China? You give up yet? You get the Viaggio, Fiat’s newest sedan coming to Chinese dealerships in late-2012.
We have all come to grips with the fact that the Dart is essentially just an Alfa Romeo Giulietta in a different wrapper. Now Fiat is about to confuse all of us even more by essentially taking the Dodge Dart’s blueprints to China and manufacturing the Viaggio. From the teaser images Fiat released, we can tell that the only difference between the front end of a Dart and the Viaggio is that they have differing front fascias. On the rear, the Viaggio will not bear Dodge’s full-width light bar and the license plate recess moves to the trunk lid. That’s where the differences stop, with exception of some chrome accents.
To recap, the Dodge Dart is a Giulietta with a new body, and the Viaggio is a Dodge Dart with a new front fascia and different taillights. So that would make the Viaggio and Giulietta third cousins once removed, right?
Enough with the genealogy, the Viaggio will bear the same MultiAir turbocharged 1.4-liter engine that the Dart has, but in two different versions. The base model will crank out just 120 horsepower and the optional engine will produce 150 horsepower, 40 horsepower and 10 horsepower less than the Dart’s 1.4-liter, respectively. The engines will link up to either a five-speed manual transmission or a dual-clutch automatic transmission.
Fiat has kept wraps on whether or not this model will remain only in China, or if it will be an export model. Likely with manufacturing happening in China, this creation will stay there. To avoid confusing us all, Fiat, we ask that you please keep this model overseas. We would appreciate it. You can catch a full look at the Viaggio at the Beijing International Auto Show on April 23rd.