The undisputed star of the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show for Fiat was the new Panda city car.
Longer and wider than the model it replaces, the Panda has improved safety standards and interior space, while the exterior design combines the most distinctive elements of the current car with softer edges and bolder detailing.
The interior engineers have also drawn inspiration from previous Panda models. The wraparound dashboard "shell", the large storage shelf, and the thin seat backrests all hark back to the original model, while the high-mounted gear-lever, commanding driving position and general layout will be familiar to drivers of the current Panda.
The overall cabin design is completely fresh, however, with new steering wheels, seats, instruments and switches, all of which share the round square motif of the exterior. The rear seats split, fold and slide, while the front passenger seat backrest folds flat to form a table - both segment firsts. Fiat tells us that special attention has also been paid to the quality, materials and overall finish of the new Panda's cabin.
Four engines power the new Fiat Panda including the award-winning 85hp twinair turbo unit and a new, normally-aspirated, 65hp twin air engine. The familiar 69hp 1.2-litre petrol engine and 75hp 1.3-litre multijet II diesel engine are also offered, with start and stop and gear-shift indicators as standard, while methane- and LPG compatible engines will follow.
The new Panda employs a MacPherson front and torsion beam rear suspension and is front-wheel drive with dual-mode electric power steering. A Panda 4x4 is scheduled for later in 2012.
All models have four airbags, ABS with brake-assist, ISOFIX, rear headrests and daytime running lights, while a low-speed automatic emergency braking system is also in development. Available features include Blue&Me-TomTom LIVE, an electric Skydome sunroof, and a dualogic automated manual transmission.
New Fiat Punto
The revised Fiat Punto also took its first bow at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. Available at the beginning of next year, the new Punto benefits from a number of aesthetic and technical upgrades. The exterior is revised with new bumpers, alloy wheels and colours, while inside the Punto the seats get new seats fabrics with matching dashboard inserts.
The new Fiat Punto also benefits from the addition of two new engines, the 85hp twinair turbo and a new 85hp version of the 1.3 multijet II engine. The twinair engine has been specially tuned for the Punto and is mated to a six-speed gearbox to help lower emissions to an impressive 98g/km CO2.
The 1.3 multijet II engine uses new technologies such as "intelligent alternator" and "intelligent flow" to boost performance while reducing CO2 emissions to an incredible 90g/km. The "intelligent alternator" only recharges the battery when the car is coasting, while "intelligent flow" refers to the Punto's intelligent management of the oil pump and cooling circuit.
Four trim levels are offered in the new Fiat Punto: Pop, Easy, Lounge and TwinAir, but final equipment specifications have yet to be determined. The TwinAir version will have unique alloy wheels, special interior fabric, TwinAir badges and a distinctive black finish around the pillars, mirrors and headlamps.
Abarth special edition models
Not to be outdone, Abarth is introducing three new models at the show, as well as a special style pack for the Fiat 500 TwinAir. The 500 Cabrio Italia is a tribute to the 150th anniversary of Italian unification and is painted distinctive "Abu Dhabi" blue with carbon-fibre Sabelt seats trimmed in brown leather.
Other enhancements include 17-inch alloy wheels, four-piston Brembo brakes with yellow callipers; integrated satnav, carbon-fibre trim, unique badges and a numbered plaque, while power is courtesy of a 160hp, 1.4-litre, turbo-charged engine mated to a five-speed manual gearbox.
To coincide with the unveiling of the revised Fiat Punto, Abarth has unveiled the new, special-edition Abarth Punto "SuperSport" painted in historic Grigio Campovolo with a matte black finish on the bonnet, roof, mirrors and 18-inch wheels.
The SuperSport is powered by a new 180hp 1.4-litre multiair engine and comes with Koni dampers; lower, stiffer springs; four-piston Brembo brakes and an esseesse exhaust system. Interior revisions include Sabelt seats, integrated satnav and Jaeger dials.
The 695 Competizione is Abarth's first street-legal track car, complete with rollover cage (finished in the same Grigio Competizione Opaco paint as the bodywork ) and lightweight Sabelt seats as standard. It boasts a unique steering wheel; Jaeger dials; a carbon fibre dashboard, integrated satnav and a numbered plaque, while the Tributo Ferrari -based mechanicals include a 180hp 1.4-litre turbo-charged engine; Brembo brakes; up-rated suspension; Record Monza exhaust and the paddle-operated, Competizione transmission.
New Abarth pack
Finally, Abarth has collaborated with Fiat to create a new "by Abarth" pack to emphasise the sporty and dynamic character of the TwinAir engine. The kit includes special 16-inch alloy wheels with Abarth centre-caps, side skirts, a rear spoiler, bonnet decals and aluminium pedals and is available from October on pasodoble red and crossover black TwinAir models only.