By on December 5, 2012

Forward contracts for popcorn skyrocketed at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the Tokyo Commodity Exchange and other world markets after managers of Fiat and Nissan traded barbs about beauty.

Matt Davis, head of Fiat brand product marketing, hit first.

Matt Davis of Fiat: “Visual pollution!”

Clearly referring to Nissan’s Leaf, Davis said: “Let’s be honest, ugliness is probably one of the worst forms of pollution.”
Of course, Fiat does not want to be known as an ecological criminal, hence, said Davis to Bloomberg: “The Fiat 500e proves that you do not have to give up on good looks to deliver an electric car.” Laughter among reporters assembled in Auburn Hills.

Today, Nissan hit back with gusto.

“Let’s face it, Fiat has not shied away from controversial styling themselves,” Nissan’s head of global marketing communications Simon Sproule told Hans Greimel of Automotive News [sub] today. “Many would describe many of their products as visual pollution. Take a long, hard look at the Fiat Doblo.”

Sproule of Nissan: “Look who’s talking!”

Once Sproule, a Brit, and usually a gentleman, (he joined Nissan from Aston Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover) was on a roll, he told Greimel that unlike the Fiat EV, the Leaf is a “fully functioning” car for families and daily use.

Then, he dispensed one of the biggest insult in the business, namely that the Fiat 500e is a quota car, and that the Italians don’t really mean it.
He told Greimel that Fiat is simply offering a me-too car to appease regulators. “They chose the smallest vehicle in their range with the least amount of passenger functionality,” Sproule said. “I don’t think they have the credibility or the hardware to stand behind these kind of statements. Either you’re committed to it or not.”

Good reporter as he is, Greimel immediately called Fiat in Turin, where a spokesman declined comment. They are probably thinking of choice words. Stay tuned.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!


48 Comments on “Car Fight! Fiat And Nissan Trade Insults Over Who’s Uglier...”

  • avatar

    Maybe they’ll both see the light and realize that cars can be beautiful and functional at the same time. Man, that Leaf is Fugly… But then the 500e is no beauty queen either.

    • 0 avatar

      The Leaf is a glorious piece of design, it’s just made with a French philosophy… You have to admire those rear lights — they’re like no other. I didn’t like the bulging front lights until I learned why they bulge — it’s an aerodynamic exercise to prevent the side mirrors from making an awkward noise as the wind passes by. There are many vehicles that are conventional, boring, and will soon be forgotten. The Leaf isn’t one of them – following a glorious path began by Tatra, embraced by Citroen, and followed by the 1st gen insight, the 2nd gen prius, the volt, and now this

  • avatar

    Lets see which sells better. It isn`t like the Lead has lit up the sales chart.

  • avatar

    “Let’s be honest, ugliness is probably one of the worst forms of pollution.”
    Excuse me while I fall about laughing. This from the company that brought you the 1st generation Multipla:
    Which was generously described by Mr J.Clarkson as “looking like it was designed by two people who never met.”

    • 0 avatar

      He still named it car of the year in 1999 or 2000, can’t recall which!

    • 0 avatar

      You beat me to the Multipla!

      • 0 avatar

        +1, beat me to it too

        And Sproul has a good point regarding Fiat’s commitment.

        I always wonder if cars like the Fiat 500 will have shelf-lives similar to other cute retro-ish cars like the PT Cruiser. See the Ford Thunderbird for another retro example.

      • 0 avatar

        controllio, Mini seems to keep rolling with the theme. It seems that Fiat is following their suit with things like the 4 door 500 etc.

      • 0 avatar

        The Mini Cooper is better engineered and actually has utility.

        The Fiat 500 sucks for the same reason the Smart sucks — low gas mileage and low utility. I’m all for selling good small cars here. For example, we’d be better off with a Fiat Panda, whether brought here as a Fiat or a Fiatsler.

      • 0 avatar

        controllio, I disagree. The Fiat 500 is just as usable as a regular 3 door Mini. I spent some time with an Abarth and drove with 3 of my average size friends in the car, plus some junk (not a lot) in the trunk.

        The rest of the time I tooled around with a kid seat and my daughter in the back with plenty of room. Driving gently, I was able to get in the upper 30s mpg wise, in the turbo’d Abarth.

        The car was easily on par with or better than the last couple Minis I drove as well. If you haven’t checked one out, I recommend it.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes the Multipla was ugly. But actually, I prefer an ugly car before a bland car. Most cars are bland.

      Normally an ugly car doesn’t survive in Italy. Fiat Stila was not a bad car. But it was considered to be ugly so it was soon replaced with the new Bravo. And that is actually a good looking car.

    • 0 avatar
      Athos Nobile

      You forgot the Ducato. The current one. I don’t know what happens with this people and their commercial vehicles.

  • avatar

    YEAH! Looks at that…van! It’s so square and…van-like. Take that Fiat.

  • avatar

    Leaf wins in a walk….
    Nissan has created the ugliest car available.
    I find it hard to believe that anyone
    could have approved this design. It clearly
    was designed by a committee that never put
    all the pieces together.

    • 0 avatar

      I like the way the Leaf looks. It’s happy and high tech inside and out.

      Also, I’m in the Leaf’s target market – I think my Prius is a gas guzzler and the other cars I own (an Escape and a jointly owned F-150) are horribly wasteful, but well built and useful enough to be worth owning until something better comes along. And I’m looking for something better every time I open this blog.

      So, yeah, I like the Leaf because it’s happy and high tech, and I love the smooth and torquey low-end performance. It’s a little blah on the highway, but how much highway driving are you going to do in a car with the Leaf’s limitations? Alas, the limitations are real and so it’s not the car for everyone – but it is a perfect car for some people. I’m debating whether I’m one of those people, especially since the C-Max Energi looks like a good option for my needs. But the Leaf is such a happy little car! :-)

  • avatar

    I’d call it a draw. Overall, Fiat has some better looking cars, but Nissan has a longer legacy and better overall reliability and practicality.

    • 0 avatar

      Nissan has a longer legacy than FIAT? Fiat was established in 1899!

      Nissan would have went out of business if the French government didn’t bail them out so Renault would have a worldwide presence.

  • avatar

    They are both wrong, Toyota is the ugly brand

    • 0 avatar

      Hardly. Toyotas may be bland & generic, but they aren’t actively ugly. Toyotas are beauty queens compared to these things.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m sorry, but the late-model 4Runner is a hideous caricature of legacy models. The Sequoia is no looker either. Everything past the greenhouse of the new (2014?) RAV4 should have been axed before it was ever shown to the public. And I shudder at the thought of what they’ll do to the next Highlander. It looks like the folks at Toyota need to go back to SUV-design school.

      • 0 avatar

        Yeah, there’s in-your-face ‘active’ ugly, then there’s homely, plain, take-pity-on-me ‘passive’ ugly. Toyotas clearly belong in the second category.

    • 0 avatar

      Toyota is the Neutral Planet of cars.

      Watch Futurama if you don’t get the reference. It’s a beige alert!

  • avatar

    m-e-o-w …

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    I have now set out to do Fiat one better, um, I mean worse.

    I’ve taken this air hose, hooked it up to a GE turbine jet engine, whereupon I, along with this crew of firefighters, shall force induct 10 kajillion psi of air pressure into the the aforementioned Fiat fugly, the Doblo (in effect, changing it into a Doblow).

    Okay! Fire it up! Hold it…hold it…hang on boys! It’s working! Just a little…more!

    There! That’s it! We’ve done it.

    We’ve taken the average, standard-sized Fiat Doblo and blown it up even bigger, making a larger fugly! Nissan, you can thank me now, and you’re welcome.

    What’s that? Sorry? It is? Oh.

    It seems we just built a Nissan NV. My apologies.

  • avatar

    I wanted to buy the [beautiful to me] Dart, but got the Leaf instead. But hey, I traded an xB1 for it, so I can’t say much about choosing pretty cars.

    • 0 avatar

      You know, I actually wondered what your reaction was going to be.

      I actually like the Leaf in the blue-green color it was introduced in. Don’t know about the other colors.

      What color did you get yours in?


      • 0 avatar

        Mine is white, as shown in the adjacent thread today.

        I like the color, but the hatch possesses some weird aerodynamics that catch all the dirt, especially when it rains. So keeping it clean is harder than I expected, and this is my fifth white car.

        The black and the red are also nice, IMO, and I actually prefer the blue the least.

        I’ve had some fairly attractive cars before, but lately I’m on a homely binge. :)

  • avatar

    A discussion by the B&B about ugly cars and no one has mentioned…oh never mind.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    If I had a Doblo; I’d call it Lloyd. Reference Lloyd Dobbler

  • avatar

    I do not like the new 500L. MINI did the stretch-the-compact-hatchback thing much better with its Countryman…

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    To me , the Versa sedan is likely the ugliest , worst proportioned sedan sold in the US . The Juke is hideous , but at least in an attempting to be quirky or endearing way . I think the Leaf looks better than either .

    • 0 avatar

      The Juke is the ugliest!

      Just about all the good looking Japanese cars were designed in Italy like the Isuzu Impulse and Lexus GS300 for instance.

      FIAT has built some of the best looking cars in the world like the Dino, 124 convertible, X1/9 mid engine sportscar, the original 124 sedan and coupe and many more. The current VW Golf apes the Punto. I love the new 500X crossover.

  • avatar

    Might as well be the Jaguars and the Panthers on MNF. We’re only watching because it’s not Sunday.

  • avatar

    Somebody from the company that signed off on the Juke has no right to be critiquing the Doblo.

  • avatar

    Hey look.. if we make ridiculous comments about our competitors vehicles we get free press.

    And as most people know any press is generally considered good press regardless of it’s subject.

  • avatar

    Nissan makes a lot of really ugly cars. The leaf, the murano, the altima, the sentra… Oy vey

  • avatar

    Nissan cars are ugly. The Versa is one of the worst designs ever. The Murano is so bad looking that it reminds me of the Aztec. And the list goes on.

    Fiat designs are interesting at least.

  • avatar

    Ugly cars (or trucks)? Neither the Leaf or 500e are anywhere close to the eyesore that is the Toyota FJ Cruiser. It also gets the Dumbest Name award. Second place on the ugly list is the Nissan Murano convertible.

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • windnsea00: Ford made the Transit far better driving than they needed to. I was driving a U-haul cargo van recently...
  • Hydromatic: “The color I truly want is a nice burnt umber… essentially an orange-tinted brown that would work...
  • Kyree S. Williams: “I do like the look of the Discovery Sport, but I can’t get over the fact that it is a $50K+...
  • gtemnykh: I don’t care for the CMax’s packaging compared to the Prius V’s true wagon-like space....
  • hamish42: Hey, leave the Triumph Mayflower alone! My Grandpa had one that was ancient. We used to change the spark...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote


  • Contributors

  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Seth Parks, United States
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Kyree Williams, United States