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Turin proud: a tour of Fiat’s amazing classic collection

FCA Heritage Hub

Welcome to Italian car heaven – and there isn’t a Ferrari or Lamborghini in sight. Housed inside Fiat’s former Mirafiori factory in Turin, the new FCA Heritage Hub contains more than 250 classics from Fiat, Lancia and Abarth. Concepts, prototypes, coachbuilt one-offs, iconic race-winners… they’re all here. Pitched as ‘not so much a traditional museum space as a three-dimensional archive in constant growth’, it opens to the public soon, but we had a privileged first look. Join us for a guided tour.

Fiat S61 Corsa

FCA Heritage Hub

One of the oldest cars in the collection, this 1908 Fiat S61 Corsa finished third in the first Indianapolis 500-mile race in 1911, then won the US Grand Prix in 1912. Its 10.1-litre (!) four-cylinder engine develops 125hp – good for a heady 99mph. Slowing down was clearly less of a priority: there are no front brakes. The car recently emerged from a 10-year restoration by FCA craftsmen, with many parts fabricated from scratch.

Fiat 500

FCA Heritage Hub

Leapfrog to the present day, and the 500 is the cornerstone of the Fiat range. This is 500 number 001 – the first off the production line in 2007. Its cute styling is a homage to the 1957 Cinquecento, but the 500 was forward-thinking in other ways: the first city car with seven airbags and the option of electronic stability control (ESC). A modern icon, it shows no sign of losing its appeal.

Fiat 500 Coupe Zagato

FCA Heritage Hub

This slightly sleeker 500 is the work of legendary Italian coachbuilder, Zagato. Debuting at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show, it was the first car to use Fiat’s two-cylinder Twinair petrol engine. Other highlights include Zagato’s trademark ‘double bubble’ roof, lowered suspension, 17-inch alloys and custom ‘Pop Yellow’ paint. A special edition 500 with more than simply stripes and stickers, then.

Fiat Uno and Panda

FCA Heritage Hub

Fiat’s small-car heritage extends well beyond the 500, of course. Pictured are the Uno – first launched in 1983 – and 1980 Panda. The Uno was Italy’s answer to the Ford Fiesta and notched up nearly nine million sales by the time production finally ceased in 2013. Penned by Giugiaro, it anticipated the trend for taller, MPV-style hatchbacks. The Panda was more radical still, with completely flat glass and hammock-style seats. Its no-nonsense functionality still inspires car designers today.

Fiat Panda Elettra

FCA Heritage Hub

Proof that electric cars are nothing new, the Panda Elettra was manufactured by Austrian company Steyr-Puch from 1990 to 1998. Its 9.2kW motor relies on heavy lead-acid cells and top speed is just 43mph, with a fully-charged range of 62 miles. Those batteries also fill the back of the car, so there are only two seats. The recent Fiat Centoventi concept – which previews the next Panda – does rather better, with a predicted 300-mile range.

Fiat ESV 1500

FCA Heritage Hub

Impact bumpers have come a long way. The 1971 Fiat ESV 1500 (‘Experimental Safety Vehicle’) was the first prototype ‘safety car’ built in Europe. It’s based – believe it or not – on the contemporary 500, although borrows many parts from the 126 city car. Those huge bumpers and side rubbing strips are made from solid foam, while the gawky bodywork conceals a passenger safety cell and reinforced roof.

Fiat ESV 2000

FCA Heritage Hub

This larger ESV 2000 is also on display at the Heritage Hub. A Fiat 127 underneath, the ‘2000’ figure refers to its weight in pounds. For the metrically-minded, that translates to 1,165 kg – around 360 kg more than standard, and certainly enough to give its 1.3-litre engine a good workout. Fiat built 47 ESV prototypes in total.

Fiat 500 ‘Topolino’

FCA Heritage Hub

The 1936 ‘Topolino’ (‘little mouse’ in English), musters a mighty 13hp from a 569cc four-cylinder engine. It helped get Italy mobile again after World War Two, with 520,000 eventually made. In theory, this original 500 is a two-seater, but whole families would often squeeze inside the tiny, 3.2-metre-long car.

Fiat Coupe and Barchetta

FCA Heritage Hub

Fiat doesn’t only do small and sensible. The radical-looking 1993 Coupe was designed by Chris Bangle, who went on to reshape a generation of BMWs. In flagship 2.0-litre 20v Turbo Plus form, it could hit 62mph in 6.3 seconds and 155mph flat-out. The Barchetta (‘little boat’) roadster was launched in 1995, taking on the Mazda MX-5 with a 131hp 1.7-litre engine and a chassis derived from the Mk1 Punto. Only sold in left-hand drive, it was a rare sight in the UK.

Fiat 124 Sport Spider

FCA Heritage Hub

The Fiat 124 Spider recently made a comeback, but this is the 1966-1985 original. Styled by Tom Tjaarda and built by Pininfarina, it was particularly popular in America, where a three-speed automatic transmission was offered from 1979. Power comes from a variety of engines, including a rare Volumex supercharged version. The hard-top Abarth 124 Spider was a successful rally car, winning events in Germany, Greece and Poland.

Fiat Ecobasic

FCA Heritage Hub

Back to the sensible stuff, here’s the 1999 Fiat Ecobasic concept. Its aerodynamic body (Cd 0.28) devotes 88 percent of its volume to passengers and luggage, while all panels are made from recycled plastic. Maintenance access for the 1.2-litre diesel engine is via a flip-up panel between the headlights, and fuel economy is a thrifty 81mpg. Inside, the Ecobasic has plastic flooring and seats that fold sideways, transforming it into a small van.

Fiat X1/23

FCA Heritage Hub

Presented at Turin’s own motor show in 1972, the dinky X1/23 concept was later fitted with batteries and an electric motor. Its roofline arcs sharply over occupants’ heads, while the unusual front bumper frames the headlights. An equally minimalist interior features a single-spoke steering wheel, seats upholstered in synthetic cloth (very 1970s) and large shelf beneath the windscreen.

Fiat Campagnola AR 51

FCA Heritage Hub

We love the perfect patina on this Campagnola AR 51. In 1952, the proto-SUV drove the length of Africa, from Cape Town to Algiers, in a record 11 days. The Campagnola was originally designed for the Italian army, but soon found favour with farmers and off-road adventurers. Its 53hp 1.9-litre engine has a four-speed gearbox with low-range transfer case. Independent front suspension was innovative for the time, while the rear employs conventional leaf springs.

Fiat 124S

FCA Heritage Hub

You might know the Fiat 124 better as the Lada Riva. The small saloon, first launched in 1966, gained a second lease of life in Russia, where it lived on – incredibly – until 2012. This particular 124S is another car from the ‘Epic Journeys’ section of the Heritage Hub, and also started out in Cape Town, travelling to Norway’s North Cape in 50 days in 1970. Epic indeed, especially with no air conditioning or creature comforts.

Fiat 130 Familiare

FCA Heritage Hub

Giovanni Agnelli founded the company that became Fiat in 1899, and his family still holds a controlling interest. This one-of-four 130 Familiare estate was made for Dr Umberto Agnelli by a coachbuilder called Introzzi on Lake Como. Powered by a 165hp 3.2-litre Lampredi V6 mated to a three-speed auto ’box, it’s about the most stylish family car we can imagine.

Fiat City Taxi

FCA Heritage Hub

Revealed at the Turin Motor Show in 1968, the City Taxi was Fiat’s vision of a fare-paying future. Its asymmetrical body has a conventional door for the driver on one side, and a sliding door for passengers on the other. Other clever ideas include a padded dashboard with built-in radio-telephone and taxi meter, a semi-automatic gearbox and straps to attach luggage to the roof.

Fiat Punto

FCA Heritage Hub

We’d forgotten how crisp the original 1993 Punto looks. Once again, it’s designed by Giugiaro – the maestro behind the Panda, Uno, Volkswagen Golf Mk1, Lotus Esprit, BMW M1 and many more. Produced as a hatchback and (somewhat less stylish) convertible, the Punto would later become Europe’s best-selling car. Bizarrely, the third-generation model was phased out in 2018 with no direct replacement.

Lancia Stratos

FCA Heritage Hub

We’ve focused on Fiat here, but this sublime Alitalia-liveried Lancia Stratos is a reminder that other brands built in Turin also share the FCA Heritage Hub. The wedge-shaped Stratos borrowed its mid-mounted engine from the Ferrari Dino and weighs less than 1,000kg. It was a formidable rally car, winning three consecutive World Rally Championships from 1974 to 1976. This particular car took victory in the 1976 Rally of Portugal.

In pictures:

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2018 Mahindra Roxor

Jeep wants to ban ‘identical copy’ of its iconic model

2018 Mahindra RoxorFiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has filed a U.S. trade complaint as it attempts to stop Indian car maker Mahindra & Mahindra importing an off-road vehicle similar to the iconic Jeep.

FCA says the Mahindra Roxor infringes key elements of the Jeep’s design, most notably the “boxy body shape with flat-appearing vertical sides and rear body ending at about the same height as the hood [bonnet].”

“They are a nearly identical copy of the iconic Jeep design,” it said. “In fact, the accused product was ‘modelled after the original Willys Jeep.'”

In November 2017, Mahindra Automotive North America (MANA) opened a new North American headquarters and manufacturing facility in Michigan to produce an “off-highway vehicle that will extend Mahindra’s current position in this growing segment”.

The Indian carmaker is promising to invest a further $600 million in the local economy, as well as creating 400 jobs by the year 2020. Of the Roxor, the company claims that “no other vehicle on the planet has the heritage, durability, and reputation”, before concluding: “This is truly an original off-road vehicle, with modern innovation.”

Jeep sales up 5.9 percent in US

Jeep USA

Needless to say, that’s the kind of statement likely to rile bosses at FCA, as it seeks to protect the equity associated with the world’s most iconic 4×4. Jeep is becoming increasingly important to the group, with the SUV brand recording a 5.9 percent increase in US registrations in July, bucking the industry trend for falling sales.

Jeep is also performing well in Europe, with JATO reporting a 67 percent increase in half-year sales – the largest jump of any of the brands in the top 25. By shifting just under 90,000 units, Jeep has leapfrogged Land Rover, which saw a sales slump of 9 percent.

Mahindra’s automotive division was established in 1947 and has grown to become India’s number one builder of SUVs. It has adopted a bullish stance to the Roxor’s place in the market, creating a page entitled ‘Us vs Them’, comparing its 4×4 to the competition.

Roxor image courtesy of Premoffline/Wikipedia

FCA Drivers Club website

Company car club launched for Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Jeep drivers

FCA Drivers Club website

Look at that company car driver, relaxing in his office chair, wearing the face of someone who is at peace with the world. It’s the face of a man who has joined the FCA Drivers Club, a new initiative dedicated to those who have chosen a Fiat Chrysler Group car for work.

Open to drivers of FCA cars, which in the UK means Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Abarth and Jeep (but not, ahem, Chrysler), the scheme offers the opportunity to experience FCA products at special events, such as track days and off-road adventures. The Drivers Club is also open to drivers of competitors’ cars obtained for business use.

Members will be invited to attend Company Car in Action, the UK’s largest multi-brand fleet test-driving event, which is usually restricted to fleet managers. FCA will also be offering tickets to the Goodwood Festival of Speed and the Farnborough Air Show, along with access to the company’s vehicle demonstrator fleet without a visit to a dealer.

In addition, FCA is offering discounts on genuine accessories and privilege purchase schemes for second cars. There is even a welcome gift for drivers of FCA vehicles, which might explain why our suited friend is looking so happy.

“The company car is one of the most exciting perks of a job but, whether it’s a benefit of status or an essential business tool, choosing the right car for the job is an important decision. This is especially true if you’re going to spend several years in that vehicle or going to undertake serious mileage,” says Simon Wheeler, national fleet marketing manager, FCA UK.

“Choosing a company car is an important decision so the objectives of the club are to help drivers in their selection when considering a Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Jeep, Abarth or Fiat Professional vehicle, adding value to the ownership experience by rewarding loyalty. We also want to incentivise company car drivers of competitor products to get to know the FCA product range and give our cars a try.”

Company car drivers can register via the FCA Drivers Club website.

Fiat Chrysler could axe all diesel cars by 2022

Fiat Chrysler could axe all diesel cars by 2022

Fiat Chrysler could axe all diesel cars by 2022

Fiat Chrysler is expected to announce plans to ditch all diesel engines from its line-up as soon as 2022.

That’s according to reports ahead of a four-year plan set to be revealed in June. FCA, which includes Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Maserati and Jeep in its portfolio, is currently facing lawsuits in America for allegedly using defeat devices to reduce emissions in official tests – in a similar way Volkswagen Group did, triggering the Dieselgate scandal.

FCA isn’t the first manufacturer to announce plans to ditch diesel engines. Just last week, Porsche announced that it would be dropping diesels from its range (although it insisted that might not be permanent), while Volvo revealed its move away from diesel last year by saying that all its cars would feature some form of electrification by 2019.

Diesel has been falling out of favour in recent years, with registrations of diesel cars dropping by 17 percent in the UK in 2017. The decline has been attributed to ongoing concerns over emissions, worries about legislation and even uncertainty over reliability. It’s not just private buyers worried about diesel, either – even company car drivers are shifting away from the fuel.

Data from Jato Dynamics reveals that sales of diesel vehicles across Europe fell by eight percent last year, reducing its market share to 43.8 percent.

However, FCA actually witnessed a rise in its share of diesel sales last year – mainly because of its popularity in Italy, where demand for diesel remains strong.

Although the forthcoming announcement is likely to detail FCA pulling diesel engines from all its passenger cars, the company will continue to provide a choice of diesel engines for its commercial vehicles.

Read more:

Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

Google Car self-driving tech to be tested in Chrysler Pacifica MPV

Chrysler Pacifica HybridGoogle Self-Driving Car technology is to be tested in a Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid MPV – the first time Google’s worked directly with a car maker to integrate its autonomous car tech into a production passenger vehicle.

The deal is a major coup for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) which will work with Google to fully integrate all the self-driving sensors and software into the 2017 Chrysler: testing will begin later in 2016.

It’s no one-off build either: FVA will build 100 self-driving Chryslers carrying Google self-driving tech, in a co-location facility in Michigan.

They’ll first be tested on a California racetrack before being rolled out onto public roads.

Previously, it was rumoured Ford would be collaborating with Google to co-develop self-driving cars: an announcement was expected at CES 2016 back in January, but it didn’t occur. Now, it seems FCA has picked up the baton.

“FCA has a nimble and experienced engineering team and the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan is well-suited for Google’s self-driving technology,” said John Krafcik, CEO of the Google Self-Driving Car Project.

“The opportunity to work closely with FCA engineers will accelerate our efforts to develop a fully self-driving car that will make our roads safer and bring everyday destinations within reach for those who cannot drive.”

“Working with Google provides an opportunity for FCA to partner with one of the world’s leading technology companies to accelerate the pace of innovation in the automotive industry,” said Sergio Marchionne, CEO of FCA.

“The experience both companies gain will be fundamental to delivering automotive technology solutions that ultimately have far-reaching consumer benefits.”

fiat_chrysler_fca_logo

Fiat: no longer Italian (but FCA is coming to the UK)

fiat_chrysler_fca_logoA new car company has today been created: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, or FCA, which will be Dutch-registered, UK-based and listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Read more