Thursday, September 25, 2014

Fiat's Ugly Turn-of-the Century Multipla

Fiat's Multipla (built 1998-2010) was a compact, but wide, utility vehicle for hauling passengers and their belongings in a highly space-efficient manner.

Its styling was ugly as sin.

Some background and technical details can be found here.  I've never driven one, but I've read here and there that it was an okay vehicle if one was inside it.  I was in Italy a few months ago and noticed that a number of Multiplas were still on the streets of Rome and Palermo.

The odd styling was recognized as a barrier to sales, so the Multipla was given a facelift in 2004 that eliminated its worst quirks.


Front view of the initial Multipla design.  The windshield is nearly flat, but kept comparatively small in this age of aerodynamically-dictated sloped greenhouses.  What we see here is a strange metal roll under the windshield that houses some sort of running lights.  The purpose of the roll is to mask the cowling while allowing for a low hoodline.  It is this ensemble of windshield, roll and hood that makes the car ugly.

Side view with a driver to indicate scale.  The wheels are too small for my taste.  The car has plenty of glass-area -- probably a little too much.

View showing the rear.  Yes, a slightly higher beltline might be helpful.

Here is an example of the facelifted Multipla.  The main change is a new hood that aligns with the lower edge of the windshield, a likely aerodynamic improvement.  Headlights and front air intakes are also revised.  I would still like larger wheels and a higher beltline, but those items would have made the facelift cost more than Fiat was willing to pay.  I wonder why Fiat didn't use a design similar to this in the first place.

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