Thursday Thunder – misunderstood and unloved
The Fiat Multipla. In every single the Ugliest Car Of The World article, often written by individuals unencumbered by any knowledge on vehicle design, it ends up winning, whilst the ongoing vehicle design mutilation by tuners is hardly ever mentioned by these types…
Anyway: the Fiat Multipla!
It was designed by Roberto Giolito to be a highly practical family car. First shown at the 1997 Paris Motor Show, it went into production in 1999 based on the Fiat Bravo/Brava platform. It was both shorter and wider than any of its competitors.
Giolito came up with a new package, featuring two rows of three seats, one of many ideas differentiating the Multipla from the majority of compact MPVs. The seating setup allowed for the front seats to be adjusted and the rear seats to be either removed or relocated into many different formats. The six seat configuration was special, practical and kids loved the middle seat in the front. Interior space of the Multipla was large and luggage space, with 100 liters over that of the 15 centimeters longer 1997 Golf 4, even larger. This new way of thinking was captured in an unconventional, but meaningful and well executed take on automotive aesthetics.
The Multipla was facelifted in 2004 but I refuse to post photos of that car. It was a weak move by the Fiat decision makers after the bold original.
The design of the Multipla was consistent and original with unique proportions. The Multipla does not pretend to be something it is not. Surfacing was soft, approachable. It looks best with color coded bumpers, like the 1997 concept. They tie the vehicle together and make the bumper graphics more pronounced. The face, featuring the typical six headlight graphic was friendly, with a subtle eyebrow focus around the pair of middle headlights. Its large straight up side windows were atypical, a larger portion of glass over metal is uncommon in automotive design as it looks non-dynamic. The glass generated lots of interior light and, more importantly, space for head and shoulders, whilst the low cut made visibility for children great. At the back the large glass surface wrapped around the D-pillar in an unconventional way. The doors are large too, going all the way up to the near flat roof, making ingress and egress even easier.
A consistent use of form throughout the design, from body to wheels, details to jewelry, is worth another compliment. The factory body kit made the Multipla look perhaps even more interesting, with a sportier stance, larger wheels and lowered suspension. Although the economic success of the compact people mover unfortunately stayed out, it managed to be displayed in museums like the London Design Museum and the New York M.O.M.A.
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