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Friday, August 7, 2009

Fiat 500: Design analysis

The Fiat 500 is a thoroughly modern car with the flavor of the past. Last month we posted a design analysis of the Fiat 500C. This month let's look at the Fiat 500 sedan.

The Fiat 500 immediately conveys the idea of compactness, thanks to a lateral section made up of several superimposed layers and its ‘shell-like’ roof, whose measurements are decidedly smaller than those of the sides in the plane view. The proportions and a number of aesthetic features give it an ‘appealing’ air, but also convey solidity and robustness. The waistline slopes slightly at the front to highlight the robustness and dynamism of the design.

It is also possible to see the front and rear light clusters, because of the way the rounded side links up to the nose and tail. And finally, the roof pillar forms an arc which simplifies the design of the glazing which is continuous and hides the upper edge of the doors with black profiling.

The lateral section proposes a modern interpretation of the look of the historic 500, but with more essential, modern surfaces, interrupted by the generous shape of the wheel arches.

The front combines the current family resemblance between the latest Fiat models with the distinctive elements of the first Fiat 500. For example, the strongest reference to the earlier car is the combination of the circular upper headlights together with full beam lower lights and the ‘whiskers and logo’ unit.

The headlights of the new Fiat 500 are a particularly neat design feature. They are the re-interpretation of the original Nuova 500's but with a modern twist.

They incorporate the most sophisticated exterior lighting technology. Produced by Magneti Marelli Automotive Lighting, the front light clusters offer DRL (Day Running Light) daytime lighting as standard: this function is activated automatically when the engine is started, with a beam stronger than that of the side lights but lower than that of the dipped headlights. The DRL system meets current legislation in some countries that requires motorists to drive with their headlights on, but makes it possible not to turn the rear side lights on, thus saving on consumption. The DRL daytime light is another innovative feature that the Fiat 500 introduces in this segment for the first time.

Abarth 500 Xenon Headlight

Also available are Xenon headlights on some 500 models. Xenon headlights provide especially bright, intense illumination of the road, ensuring significantly greater visibility in bad weather or in the dark - an important contribution to driving safety. These headlights use less energy and have a much longer service life than conventional headlamps.

The rear end of the Fiat 500 features a large shaped, chrome-plated handle which reiterates the motif of the registration plate light holder of its forebear that resembled a bicycle saddle.

The side view of superimposed volumes continues right to the tailgate, creating a striking wraparound shape. The rear window ‘cuts’ the tailgate at the sides, creating a simple modern look for the glazing while a small spoiler at the top of the tailgate enhances the contemporary look and improves the aerodynamic efficiency.

The rear lights are set between the edges of the tailgate and they are divided chromatically by function so that they appear more vertical and farther apart.

The styling of the new car is completed by the broad choice of metallic and non-metallic colors which creates a large number of possible combinations, some of which are inspired by the ‘vintage’ appeal of the original shades of the first 500, while others have a decidedly contemporary look, and the bodywork can always be chosen to match the fabric or leather of the upholstery, with a facia the same color as the exterior.

And finally, the Fiat 500 is the first Fiat model to use its own name as a logo, positioning it on the wheel hubs and rims.

Adapted from Fiat Group Press Release

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