Fiat Multipla: “The Ugliest Car in History”

The Fiat Multipla came to the market in 1998 as a revolutionary car in terms of space and functionality. The priority of its creators was to get a cabin with only two rows of seats but with six people plus luggage. A challenge for which they had to maximize the available space in several ways.

This Italian minivan had some unusual measures both in its segment and outside it. It measured only 3.99 meters long, so it wanted to be as easy to park as many compact B-segment. However, it was much wider and taller than any of them. Its 1.87 meters had almost the same wingspan as an Opel Zafira and with its 1.70 meters high it was at the level of many modern-day SUVs such as the Nissan X-Trail or the Honda CR-V.

With these dimensions, its interior had plenty of space to accommodate its occupants with comfort. Especially in height. In addition it also offered a decent enough boot with a capacity of 430 liters. That is, a car to another level in terms of practicality, with which their rivals could not measure themselves.

But the virtues of its interior space did not remain there. The front central square could be folded in such a way that there were two independent armrests for driver and passenger and several holes to leave objects. For its part, the rear seats could also move to leave a total of 1,300 liters of space in the trunk.

As for your engine, nothing out of the ordinary. A diesel version and another gasoline, designed to go from point A to point B without hurry, but without too many tightnesses for a generalist car of 1,300 kg. The first was an atmospheric 1.6-liter with 103 hp and 144 Nm at 4,000 rpm. The second a turbodiesel with 105 hp, which in 2001 would increase to 110 hp and in 2002 to 116 hp. This was the best to travel with the Multipla at full load, thanks to its 203 Nm of torque from only 1,500 rpm.

What is clear is that none of these virtues served to mitigate the reaction of the public to the design of the Fiat Multipla. Especially for its peculiar nose with small headlights on the bottom and two others even smaller under the front window. Neither helped the great disproportion between the size of the windows and the rest of the vehicle. An aspect derived from the amplitude and sensation of space that they looked for in the interior.

In his back there were also some details that did not favor his popularity. The rear optical groups had an oval shape, but to which they had added a deformation towards the sides of the car, to improve the visibility of the turn signals from the side view.

The proportions of the Multipla were destined to be very special if I wanted to reach that good interior space. It is often difficult to harmonize design and functionality to achieve a balanced product. However, most of the most criticized aspects of this car were not due to this. As the second generation of 2004 would demonstrate, neither its strange nose nor its rear pilots had anything to do with the search for superior functionality.

In the Fiat Multipla of 2004 there was no trace of those details so censored. It became a car with a much more conventional aesthetic, which no longer broke so many design standards of the time. He even received criticism for just the opposite. For many, it was now too bland in spite of retaining its unusual proportions and its six seats.

What changed almost nothing in the two generations of this car was the design of its interior. Lacking a central tunnel and the typical button station associated with it, the Multipla driving position combined all the controls on a single crowded island within easy reach of the driver’s hand.

 

In it they were together: the outputs of the air conditioning and its controls, the shift lever, the instrumentation, the radio, a hole for glasses and even a small compartment to store objects. All surrounded by a dashboard that could be chosen in several striking colors.

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Fiat Multipla: "The Ugliest Car in History" - /10

Summary

The Fiat Multipla came to the market in 1998 as a revolutionary car in terms of space and functionality.

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