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March 5, 2003

SWITZERLAND: Not a bad Idea, G[r]ingo – Fiat launches crucial new models

Dubbed Project 350 during its gestation, Fiat named its "tall Punto" the Fiat Idea at Tuesday's launch at the Geneva International Motor Show. It also rolled out a much-needed replacement for the ancient Seicento small car dubbed the Gingo.

By bcusack

Dubbed Project 350 during its gestation, Fiat named its “tall Punto” the Fiat Idea at Tuesday’s launch at the Geneva International Motor Show. It also rolled out a much-needed replacement for the ancient Seicento small car dubbed the Gingo.

The Fiat Idea

The Fiat Idea is claimed to represent a whole new approach to a small cars because it combines two very different automotive concepts: the handling and dimensions of a compact (it’s just under 4 m long, 1.7 m wide and 1.66 m high) combined with the modularity and versatility of a true MPV. Doubtless the boys at GM Opel, who wheeled out a very similar production-ready ‘concept’, now destined for production as the Meriva, last year will have something to say about that.

Inside, the Fiat Idea is generously equipped, bright and flexibly adaptable to occupants’ changing needs. Available equipment includes bi-zone automatic climate control, cruise control, six airbags and an advanced robotised transmission system that operates in either sequential or automatic mode.

The designers have worked in easy access, widely adjustable steering wheel and driver’s seat, lengthy 2510 mm wheelbase, a big modular boot assisted by a sliding rear seat plus the highest roof in Segment B or C.

Side and window bags are available, a three-point centre rear seat belt is standard and ISOFIX child seat attachments are also included.

The Idea also comes with standard ABS plus EBD and Brake Assistant, as well as optional ESP complete with Hill Holder for easier uphill starts.

The Idea will be launched with a choice of a 1.4 16v petrol and a 1.3 Multijet 16v engine both combined with a manual or robotised Dualogic gearbox with a 1.2 16v and a 1.9 JTD Multijet scheduled to appear a few months after the launch.

Fiat also unveiled a new small car to replace the ancient Seicento, christening the former Project 169 the Gingo.

The Fiat Gingo

As you’d expect, Fiat says the Gingo is the most advanced city car on the market today, endowed with all the creature comforts normally only found in larger cars; designed for fuel economy without detriment to performance and as adept in crowded cities as on longer journeys out of town.

The Gingo is ultra-compact – 354 cm long, 158 cm wide and 153 cm high – yet surprisingly roomy and can seat five people. It also boasts one of the most capacious boots in its segment (over 200 litres) and the claimed roomiest interior “bar none”.

New features include a centre facia-mounted gear lever, Dualdrive electric power steering (as standard on the mid-to-upper range versions) and a driver’s seat set higher off the ground than usual.

The Gingo comes with a choice of three engines, one of which debuts with the new Fiat baby. That’s the new 1.3 Multijet 16v that develops 70 bhp but, in true European tradition, will only become available a few months after the launch. The other two power units are well proven: the 1108 cc 55 bhp and the 1.2 8v that develops a maximum power of 60 bhp. There is a choice of two transmissions: a manual five-speed and the new Dualogic sequential automatic gearbox.

Other new standard or optional features include a huge transparent Skydome roof, the choice of manual or automatic climate control, parking sensors and a sound system with CD player, sub-woofer and steering wheel controls.

Standard or optional safety equipment includes up to six airbags, ESP and ABS complete with EBD.

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