I’m all for the rejuvenation of a classic, especially when it comes to cars. And the Fiat 500 city car has been a great success since its rebirth in 2008. But it could soon turn to overkill if Fiat follows the Mini’s example.
Regular Which? Conversation readers may remember my post two years ago concerning BMW’s direction with the Mini brand. That is, playing on the historic name by releasing a range of vehicles that don’t represent the original vehicle.
In the two year’s since, my fears for the Mini name haven’t been eased by the introduction of two more models, the Paceman and the Clubvan, and there’s still talk of a Mini saloon too. Add these to the existing Mini line-up – the Hatchback, Convertible, Coupe, Roadster, Countryman and Clubman – and you’ve got a fairly extensive list that’s pretty much based on one car. Mini actually offers a wider range of cars in the UK than Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi and Skoda!
To me, the Mini Paceman epitomises the problem, as it’s a car that doesn’t really offer anything new. It’s a similar size to the Countryman, but it’s less practical with three doors and has compromised interior room due to the Coupe-like roofline. All the Paceman does is step on the feet of existing Minis in the range.
Fiat 500, 500L, 500X…
Now it looks like Fiat will follow suit, extending the 500 range with new models. The first of these is the Fiat 500L (pictured). This is a compact-sized family MPV that’s actually based on the new and less-popular Punto, rather than the desirable 500. And the manufacturer has also suggested a 500X offroader as well.
While I fully support carmarkers offering more diversity, my cynical view is that some are sullying iconic car names to line their pockets
Like the Mini, the Fiat 500 was a car that defined a generation, offering cheap and practical motoring from a simple and small package. Yes, I know the current 500 is far from budget-friendly, but it does at least follow tradition with small dimensions, similar styling and retro fittings that hark back to the original. But converting it into an MPV and offroader will compromise this link to the Fiat 500 of the 1950s.
I just hope current and future generations will be able to overlook these new icon-fakes and appreciate the original cars themselves.
Are you with me on my desperate plea for carmakers to stop manipulating iconic models, or do you think broadening some of the most famous names in motoring is a positive move?