By on April 19, 2010

Ahead of Fiat’s 5-year plan presentations, Automotive News [sub] is reporting that the Turin-based firm is developing a four-door version of its 500 subcompact. And not just to take on Europe’s Opel Meriva and company: the 500 Multipla will be then fourth and final member of the US-market 500 family.

North American 500 production begins in Toluca, Mexico in the fourth quarter of this year, so good luck trying to get one for Christmas this year. Chrysler still hasn’t decided “how many” of its dealers will carry the ‘lil fashion nugget in any case, let alone what they’ll be charging. Here’s a hint on that last point: Chrysler recently dropped off a 500 in front of a tony Italian boutique in Detroit’s Birmingham suburb, and let the cameras roll as wealthy folks clucked about just having to have one of their own. Weirdly, (and InsideLine is my witness) Chrysler has since removed the video. It certainly wasn’t any more obnoxious than the mere idea of holding a ride-and-drive at a church.

Anyway, the two-door 500 will only be eclipsed by the 500C convertible, which arrives later in 2011. This, in turn, will be rendered passé to well-heeled afficionados of automotive fashion by the arrival of the hotted-up 500 Abarth sometime in 2012. Will the enthusiast’s-choice Abarth come come in standard (135 hp), or Essesse (160 hp) tune? Sadly, only the survival of Chrysler’s current five-year business plan is less certain. And this new four-door isn’t supposed to arrive stateside until after the Abarth.

In the meantime, European markets will get the four-door 500 in 2011, badged with the fabled Multipla nameplate. Fabled how? Cuteness, for one:

Of course, the Multipla name must never be mentioned without reference to the the steel-spaceframed MPV which remains one of the single most challenging designs in automotive history.

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17 Comments on “What’s Wrong With This Picture: Fiat 500 Takes A Multipla Vitamin Edition...”

  • avatar

    The inside of the Multipla was quite nice, especially because sitting in it enabled you to avoid seeing the outside.

    • 0 avatar

      I always liked the little “face” in the dash vent.

      Two rows of three-across seating seems a little ambitious, though. In some ways it reminds me of the Pacer’s goals (lots of glass, attempt to maximize interior room).

  • avatar

    Are you sure that gold thing isn’t French?

  • avatar

    “Brava-based MPV”

    I’ll make sure to let the engineers responsible know. Their hard work developing a Multipla-specific spaceframe was clearly wasted, apparently.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ll be honest: I’ve tried to read about the Multipla before, but I always end up just staring at the pictures, jaw slightly unhinged. In any case, you’re right. According to a document I found at the UK Multipla owners’ club:
      The new model is also innovative in terms of its manufacturing process. Its steel section space frame structure meets two different needs: maximum productive flexibility (essential in an expanding sector) and low fixed investments.

      Text has been amended.

  • avatar

    What is a vehicle suppose to look like?

    Have the designers thought of ease of construction, efficiency, ease of use, ability to see out, ability to get in and out, the ability to put things in and take them out, best materials for the price, the best place to mount lights, aerodynamics, safety, best place to put the engine, etc?

    The vehicle that fails the most tests would be our pick ups.

  • avatar

    Sorry to those that think otherwise but that thing is as ugly as an Aztek.

  • avatar

    I was in Turin 3 weeks ago; first gen Multiplas (Multipli ?, Multiple ?) were all over the place, including taxis. With brand new bifocals on, they look perfectly fine.

  • avatar

    The Multipla was indeed startlingly ugly, but it was also a cunningly functional vehicle. I saw one parked on the street in Santa Monica at one point, and wandered around it, gaping (I didn’t have a camera, sadly). When you look at it close up, most of its visual oddities begin to make sense; they don’t look any less outre, but you realize why they did what they did. I have a certain admiration for it — to enter a high-stakes market segment with a design that puts function over form to such an extent was deeply brave. It was almost weird enough to be French.

  • avatar

    Can I get a PT Cruiser instead?

  • avatar

    Maybe replace my ’05 xB with one…

  • avatar

    There’s already a 4 door Fiat 500.

    It’s called the Panda.

  • avatar

    I would have bought a Multipla if I could. The 3+3 seating would addressed my needs for hauling a family of 4 plus occasional passengers, with a large DMZ between siblings and I’m perverse enough to want to drive something odd looking as long as it was well done. Azteks need not apply because whatever merits the concept had, the execution was crap.

  • avatar

    Come on we all saw this coming. Mini, Mini Convertible, Mini Clubman, Mini SUV-thingy. Since the Fiat 500 is a Mini-clone it must have all the same versions to compete against it. The real shame will be when they price it like a Mini thus driving out all but the die-hards, then later complain how its not selling well once the novetly wears off. This has all the makings of another PT Cruiser situation: huge lust at first followed by a big thud once people get over the cute-ness/retro-ness of the whole thing. Sure Fiat 500 are popular in Europe but I don’t see this going mainstream in the US unless the price is so low everyone buys a spare one just for weekends.

    I still say we need a Mini Death Watch, how can you build an entire brand around a single yet iconic vehicle? It didn’t work for Hummer! At some point Mini madness will end, but not until they have built every version possible. You’ll know the end is upon us when the Mini-pickup concept sketches/rumors start.

  • avatar
    Tricky Dicky

    Mulitpla was an awesome taxi – always seemed to end up in one of those in Roma. However, Roman taxi drivers seem to use dotted lane markings as an excuse for slalom practice. Utterly mad.

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