Fiat just launched its award-winning Multipla in South Africa and it is one of the quirkiest-looking cars on the road. There is only one model available locally, which is the 1.9 turbodiesel.
Since its launch in 1999 the Multipla has won a brace of awards. It really is a groundbreaking MPV and for example accommodates two rows of three people, which is unique in its segment.
Its styling is also unique and is unlike anything we have seen before but you will probably love it or loathe it.
It offers many cars in one package; by being able to change it's form to that of a station wagon, an MPV, a saloon or a van. It therefore "Multiplies" (hence the name) possibilities of expression and movement allowing free and inventive use of its interior space.
In the United Kingdom the Multipla has been winning accolades since its introduction in 2000, and every year thereafter. Awards include Car of the Year, Best MPV, Best mini-MPV and Best Family Car to name but a few.
The Multipla has been styled around the needs of six passengers and their luggage. Every line and contour has been designed with practical outcomes in mind.
This Italian MPV is designed around two modules, a low, streamlined basic body, with a generous roof panel superimposed on top. A band-like design element running towards the front of the car separates the two design modules to striking effect. The purposeful nature of the shape is evident throughout, offering greater accommodation to all passengers.
The vehicle's original looks are promoted by the departure from conventional accentuated forms and the side view is a neat, elegant one thanks to a very low waistline and large, clean surfaces.
The design also allows for windows and doors to be opened during rain without water dropping from the roof onto the seats and the almost vertical windows ensure that the Fiat Multipla maintains a low interior temperature on hot summer days.
Three pairs of rounded lights, arranged at different levels in the front of the Multipla are responsible for giving it much of its fresh appearance.
The fog lights are nearest the bottom, dimmed lights form the second row of lights, and bright beams are positioned just under the windscreen, offering improved visibility in all driving conditions. Taillights too are arranged in a vertical pattern with a well-conceived layout.
According to Greg Levine, Director of Commercial Operations for Fiat Auto South Africa, "Fiat has built a reputation for producing highly innovative vehicles that break moulds and establish new benchmarks around the world.
"The Fiat Multipla compliments our current range, adding an exciting new alternative to the family lifestyle segment".
The Fiat Multipla is not merely roomy but also highly versatile. Its space can be modulated at will to adapt to your aims, your preferences, your lifestyle and needs connected with your work or your family.
Exterior and interior styling principles are integrated and the Multipla's interior has been designed around the modern lifestyle requirements of today with fresh styling, and an altogether practical and unique interior that casts aside the traditional MPV layout of the past.
The three-dimensional facia is modern and practical, utilising available space and depth to the fullest.
Intuitive monitoring and response are advocated by the intelligent layout, which includes an instrument panel that has been placed on the facia to the left of the steering wheel, angled towards the driver to ensure that concentration on the road never wavers.
The gearlever is cleverly placed alongside the steering wheel on the facia, and allows for swift, slick gear changes with minimal distraction.
Flexibility and versatility are the name of the game with six individual, comfortable seats arranged in two rows of three seats each.
The uncompromising comfort is a result of all the seats being of equal size and offering equal support.
Seats can be moved, removed and adjusted according to specific requirements and add to the Multipla's versatile nature. In addition, a cargo area the size of that in a station wagon means that comfort and accommodation remain uncompromised, regardless of the seating configuration.
The Multipla, by virtue of its many layout configurations manages versatile seating configurations all within its length of 3.99m, while offering a luggage area of between 430 dm³ and 1 900 dm³, depending on the rear seating arrangement.
Standard equipment levels in the ELX derivative, the model available locally, clearly indicate a strive towards exceptional value for money. Features span the spectrum of convenience, safety and aesthetic appeal. Building on the practicality of the multi-adjustable and functional seats, Multipla's interior offers various stowage binnacles, all positioned for maximum convenience.
Other features include power steering, ABS, dual front air bags for all three front passengers, remote central locking with alarm, front and rear electric windows and folding door mirrors, semi-automatic climate control, a front-loader CD audio system, steering wheel radio controls, fog lights, 15-inch alloy wheels and headlight washers.
These features combine in their availability and intelligent placement, to make every journey in the Multipla a highly pleasurable one.
Fiat Auto South Africa features another first in the Multipla with the introduction of their first turbo diesel engine on the local market.
The Multipla is available with the 1.9-litre JTD direct injection common rail power unit, technology pioneered by Fiat Auto and now widely used across the industry.
Ideally suited to the character of the Multipla, the common rail system offers spirited performance, combined with exceptional reliability.
Fuel consumption is reduced by some 15 percent compared to engines with a pre-chamber.
Four cylinders with two valves per cylinder, driven by a single overhead camshaft characterise the 1.9 JTD engine.
Combined with an intercooler, the variable geometry Garrett turbocharger affords the 1.9 JTD engine a power output of 85 kW at 4 000 r/min and an impressive 203 Nm from just 1 500 r/min.
The Multipla's powerful diesel engine is well mated to a quiet and slick 5-speed manual transmission that has been fitted with an inertia mass to cancel out vibrations and reduce noise levels.
Rear suspension is based on a classic independent configuration with tie rods and a sub frame suspended flexibly from the body.
This set up ensures good stability and minimum oversteer under heavy braking and limits pitching. Reduced dimensions of the rear suspension allow for a more spacious luggage compartment load area.
The Fiat Multipla is a comprehensive family lifestyle vehicle and will add another attractive option to Fiat's exciting model line up on South African roads.
It's fresh looks; versatile nature and attention to safety issues make it an obvious choice for the motorist with individualistic aspirations. Multipla will appeal to young families who do not wish to sacrifice style and innovative design for the convenience of an all round people carrier.