The town car designed by the Fiat style centre shares something more than a name drenched in history with its 1955 forebear. In fact, like the unforgettable 600 of the past, the new Seicento (Six hundred in Italian) is also the fruit of well-managed resources.
“The Seicento,” says Peter Davis, chief of Fiat’s Centro Stile, “comes as a completely new car, although it was conceived and designed trying to maintain, rather than improve, the characteristics of its progenitor, the Cinquecento. With the help of the Fiat plant at Tychy, in Poland, we have teased out the enormous unexpressed potential of the Cinquecento.
So, by working from the twin guidelines of innovation and the optimisation of an existing product, we realised that excellent results could be achieved with fairly low investments and we could therefore offer the public a car with an excellent quality-to-price ratio.”
Just four months passed from the initial styling sketches to the first pair of full-scale models (one produced by the Centro Stile in Turin, the other at the Tychy facility). In fact, neither of the two models under review was selected, but a third version was developed that combined the more interesting aspects of both.
The definitive model was built by the Fiat studio then passed on to Italdesign, which was assigned the task of preparing the completed project ready for engineering. For the duration of the work, the Fiat style centre directly oversaw the digitising process that produced the master model. At this point the refinement work began on both the exterior and the interior of the car.
“Despite the constraints imposed by build requirements,” says Davis, “we managed to propose some very original styling solutions for the Seicento.
For example, the tailgate section uses exactly the same welding track as the tailgate of the Cinquecento, but is completely different. Before it was boxy, now it’s soft, with a rounded form that expresses the aesthetics of the car in a very personal manner.
Note that the headlamps and taillights use the same mounting brackets as the Cinquecento, but together with Magneti Marelli we managed to create very efficient lighting units from the functional point of view that are also very innovative in aesthetic terms.
Basically we worked on shaping the exterior components and, at the same time, refining the body panels until they expressed a strong personality.” The styling of the Seicento represents the evolution of the Fiat formal language, hallmarked by continuity and coherence with the latest models, ranging from the Coupé to the Barchetta, Bravo/Brava and the Marea.
The physiognomy of the Seicento emerges from soft lines and surfaces, with some tensioning elements to optimise its full volumes: the sloping bonnet, the muscle coursing the flank, the zero-profile bumpers that eliminate traditional interplay with the body-work are now familiar visual clues to membership of a single family.
The article continues in Auto & Design no. 110