Fiat 500L: A Fiat Design Approach

23 July 2012

There is a common thread in the Fiat story that binds different moments and experiences, a journey that has seen the contribution of personalities animated by a profound awareness and capacity to interpret the evolution of the motorcar.

From Dante Giacosa to the new course undertaken by Fiat Design under the guidance of Roberto Giolito, there is a traceable constant commitment to preparing products linked by a vast wealth of technical and design experience and, above all, aimed at safeguarding that peculiar "vocation for invention" recognized as one of the reasons behind the success of Italian design throughout the world.

From the 1956 600 Multipla - paid respect by the 500L project in dialectic terms through the reproduction of certain "archetypical" features for versatility of use, but also its particular "morphological" roots - to the New 500 in 1957, from the 127 in 1972 to the 1980 Panda, from the Uno of 1983 to the 1998 Multipla. To understand the most radical and profoundly innovative elaborations there is a clear sequence of "firsts", of true and proper landmarks in the Fiat brand's identity,

The route undertaken with the 500 project that, for Fiat, has represented an important phase of contextualization for its brand, now finds a natural and coherent extension in a "multi-purpose" vehicle like the 500L, once more soliciting the public's attention and the desire to know the successive developments of a newly planned range. The recognisable physiognomy of the Fiat 500L, marked by a body shape without sharp edges and tight lines to privilege "sweeter" shapes, on the other hand, proves strongly evocative of "semantic" values, referring to a "pacific" and nonaggressive object that "transmits" popularity and wishes a more harmonic aspect for the urban landscape and environment.

The Fiat 500L project

The Fiat 500L is the fruit of a journey during which Fiat designers had to pit themselves against the themes of technological feasibility, brand strategy and the studies that try to predict the type of future relationship we will have with the car; a type of approach that tries to go beyond the form-function relationship to make the user and their necessities the centre of attention.

In effect, looking at the new 500L, one becomes aware of how the iconicity, or rather the car's strength and design personality, creates a true matrix of the entire project. The objective is to continue in the process of brand identification that, riding on the Fiat 500's wave of success, has gained wide scale market consensus.

Developed within the ambit of a new Fiat platform for segment B, the Fiat 500L is an innovative car that addresses a wider and more varied clientele, aiming to establish superior standards in terms of interior space and comfort. And so is born an extremely functional vehicle, capable of "dialoguing" with the user and offering a quality to appreciate over time.

From here the theme of "space efficiency", one of the cardinal points around which the Fiat Group designers have worked in defining the interior of the 500L. A driver and passenger compartment that is characterised by its large size - for example, in the anterior part the maximum width is 1,456 mm (measured at shoulder height) while the height, from seat to imperial, is 1,034 mm (in the rear the measurements are 1,387 mm and 993 mm respectively) - its general layout that foresees numerous container spaces, an almost 400 litre luggage compartment and by the dashboard, specially studied to gather the instrument panel and main controls of the audio and informatics devices in two distinct but adjoining areas.

One of the peculiarities of the 500L, pursued since the first layout of the packaging, is the extensive internal volume obtained thanks to a meticulous compacting of the mechanical parts shared between designers and engineers. If the general layout of the vehicle's architecture therefore follows the "cab forward" principles, it is from here that the reduction of the bodywork and front bonnet section derives, to the advantage of the interior space - in particular at the height of the belt line and roof - and, above all, the "empathic" vocation of the 500L's design to exalt the overall ergonomics of the car. A readily attemptable ergonomics thanks to a wide view of the outside and the luminosity of the driver and passenger compartment, guaranteed by both the largest roof in its category, with 1.5 m2 of surface glass, and the opportunely split and slimmed down windscreen uprights with their obvious advantages, also within the profile of active and passive safety.

Fiat 500L: "techno-logical" Innovation

Using the car means being able to make use of its functional performance and, in it, find all those material and immaterial components that can facilitate the approach to life. The progressive acceleration of recent years has pushed technology towards becoming an element that cannot be renounced, and ever more often one trusts in the functionality offered by all manner of devices as a reassuring fact that is inseparable from psychophysical wellbeing.

The Fiat 500L contains a multitude of technological content, from the structure of the safety cell with its anterior double uprights, designed in line with the standards in force in the USA regarding crash tests and specific dimensions of the materials employed, to a new floor that will be shared with the next generation of models. Similarly the network connection systems, navigation and infotainment, utilize suitably simplified "human-friendly" interfaces and a specific self-diagnosis apparatus.

The Fiat Group Automobiles Colour & Material area has expressly carried out a specific study for the 500L aimed at the classification of possible reference scenarios, investigated to restore appropriate formulations to the sensorial experience. In addition to a personalized range of options that envisage over thirty chromatic couplings for the painting of body and roof, this research has allowed the application of technologies and production processes that further increase the quality and value of the physical, tactile and visual properties of materials, individual fittings and the finishing.