Just imagine looking around one of the most secret, best protected areas in the automotive world to find out how an industrial product can become both a style icon and a global success. It was to enable just this that Luca Napolitano, Head of EMEA Fiat and Abarth brands, welcomed the international media to the Centro Stile FCA in Turin, offering them a unique opportunity to tour the “Colours & Materials” department, where every aesthetic feature – colours, materials and external and internal finishes – that will characterise future Fiat models is defined. Between these four walls, in a workplace which is part sophisticated research centre and part refined fashion atelier, every day designers, architects and technicians work on trends and try out innovative production processes, creating new colour schemes and original combinations of materials. And it was in this very place that a Sixties legend, the iconic 500, was reborn in 2007 to “brighten up” the daily lives and streets of the whole world, becoming a genuine, unique, useful solution to international urban mobility needs.
A history studded with commercial successes, including the record set in 2018; in fact, in its eleventh year the Fiat 500 achieved its best-ever annual figures with almost 194,000 units registered (total for Fiat 500 and Abarth 595). Not forgetting that it has now been the FCA Group’s best-selling model for 2 years, as well as being the current leader of the city-car segment in Europe. This trend shows no sign of abating, since in the first five months of 2019 it conquered its best ever share of 16% of the market outside Italy. The Fiat 500 is also the progenitor of a whole family bearing its name – comprising the 500, 500X and 500L models – which will soon reach the milestone of three million units sold in Europe.
“These are outstanding figures, for a model that has never gone out of fashion through its 12-year history, and in fact has kept on evolving, without ever losing its identity,” Luca Napolitano, Head of EMEA Fiat and Abarth brands, explains-. The ingredients of this success include the more than 30 special series created by the Centro Stile in partnership with iconic brands – from fashion to luxury yachting and from technology to heritage – which have given us unique cars, bringing the opportunity to explore uncharted territories for a city car. The most popular include the 500 by Gucci and the 500 Riva, together with the 500-60th and 500 Anniversary, two sixtieth birthday tributes to the “little 500″, not to mention the more recent 500 Mirror, 500 Collezione and 500 Spiaggina ’58. And today the 500 range is also renewed, extending and enriching it to make it even more universal, even younger and even more exciting.
Thanks to the work of the Centro Stile, the Fiat brand has succeeded in expanding the number of potential 500 lovers even further, with a new range that exploits the model’s dual personality, with its elegant and sporty sides. The first facet is reflected in the refined Lounge trim, raised to fresh heights by the new Star version, sure to be most popular with a female clientele. The sportier character, in some respects more tailored to a male clientele, comes to the fore in the feisty 500 Sport and the new, even more dynamic Rockstar. What’s more, to delight a young target, Fiat has decided to make the Lounge and Sport trims more affordable and connected by offering the Uconnect 7” HD LIVE touchscreen radio – Apple CarPlay-ready and compatible with Android AutoTM – as standard, to make every trip a unique, exciting experience.
The new range, even more universal and young at heart, now also becomes more enticing, thanks above all to the new styling features introduced by the exclusive 500 Star and 500 Rockstar. This appeal is exemplified by the new ceramic-look mica colour of the with pink tints of the Star trim, alongside the new matte green paintwork that debuts on the 500 Rockstar. After all, ever since its launch in 2007, colour has always been one of Fiat 500’s most distinctive traits: after all, it was the first car in the segment to offer atricoat white and the first, in 2009, to introduce matte black with the 500 Black Jack special series. In total, over its twelve-year lifetime the Fiat 500 has offered a colour range of more than 40 shades, more than half of them completely new, making it the FCA Group’s most “colourful” car. These original shades, and also the use of new materials, originate from research into the latest trends in contexts aeons away from the automotive industry, from fashion to technology, from art to interior design and from sport to film. But how long does it take to develop a new colour? An incredible 52 weeks. The work of the Centro Stile does not move on to the research, development, testing and production phases until it has identified the right shade, the best coating and the most suitable pigment.
The same amount of effort goes into the combination of materials inside the car. And if in 2007 the Fiat 500 offered a modern reinterpretation of traditional high-end materials, such as Cordura fabric and Poltrona Frau leather, in recent years the model has gone even further with its special series, often breaking through into unexplored territories. An example? The hand-varnished mahogany dashboard with maple inlays of the 500 Riva special series (2016), realised via an innovative engineering process that combined the most natural of materials, wood, with the state-of-the-art technology of an ultralight carbon shell, for an awe-inspiring example of Italian excellence.
Craftsmanship and refined elegance also characterise the interiors of the new 500 Star and Rockstar. In particular, in the new interior of the elegantly sporty 500 Rockstar the central band of the seat covers is inspired by the tailored pin-stripe suits of the dandy men’s fashion look, given a modern reworking through combination of more contemporary materials, such as the grey-blue details on the side panels and the black eco-leather upper part of the seat. Like the Rockstar trim, the new 500 Star also adopts original, exclusive interiors, the ultimate expression of style for the 500 range, which are available in two colour combinations, white sand and black, and in the elegant, new Matelassé finish with details in eco-leather and a bordeaux embroidered 500 logo.
Turin, 12 June 2019