Fiat's global design boss warns against designers producing controversial cars like the Multipla
Jim Holder
12 November 2013

The trend towards more divisive car design must be handled with extreme caution, according to Fiat’s global head of design, Lorenzo Ramaciotti.

Fiat is currently challenging Royal College of Art students in London to design the Fiat Panda and Fiat 500 of 2020, but while Ramaciotti has pushed them to explore wider opportunities for each vehicle, he has warned against being too challenging.

“It is true that if you build a car to appeal to everyone that you risk appealing to nobody – it is better to be loved by some and hated by others than be loved by nobody,” he said. “But you cannot be too controversial, as you risk appealing to one member of a family, for instance, but not the other.

“I saw it with the Fiat Multipla. It was brilliantly packaged, rode well and so on, but in the same family one person would love it and another would say they never wanted to be seen in it. The veto effect was too strong.

“Creating a smart car is one thing. But the design must also demonstrate that the buyer is as smart as your design team. It has to work for you and the customer.”

Our Verdict

Fiat 500

The Fiat 500 is a deserved success story for the brand, offering bags of style, a fine drive and low costs

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Comments
14

12 November 2013
Controversial looking cars can split opinion, but they can sell if they're executed properly and look good. Look at the Focus Mk 1 or Megane Mk 2 for example. However, for many punters the draw of a badge will overule the woeful looks of some cars such as, IMO, some of the previous generation of BMWs like the 1 and 5-Serie and X1 and X3.

12 November 2013
[quote=Autocar] Fiat's global design boss warns against designers producing controversial cars like the Multipla [/quote] The 500XL is OK though....?!


12 November 2013
[quote=Lanehogger]Controversial looking cars can split opinion, but they can sell if they're executed properly and look good. Look at the Focus Mk 1 or Megane Mk 2 for example. However, for many punters the draw of a badge will overule the woeful looks of some cars such as, IMO, some of the previous generation of BMWs like the 1 and 5-Series and X1 and X3.[/quote] There is a big difference between a controversial design and an outright ugly design. In the case of the Multipla time was never going to make it appear any more attractive. Whereas the Bangle era flame surfaced BMW's are generally accepted as having aged well and when looked at now their designs don't cause the controversy they did at launch. Certainly the previous generation 5 looks pretty normal now, the new E Class has far more creases and lines in its panels. Not sure about the 1 as an example either. Though I agree on the X1 and X3.

12 November 2013
[quote=Lanehogger]Controversial looking cars can split opinion, but they can sell if they're executed properly and look good. Look at the Focus Mk 1 or Megane Mk 2 for example.[/quote] Totally agree Lanehogger, and perhaps the Ford Ka (first gen), Honda Civic (last gen) and Nissan Juke prove that mainstream buyers will embrace bold styling, if it's done well.

MrJ

12 November 2013
Sadly, the love-or-loathe style of the Gen 1 Multipla was replaced by the dull-as-ditchwater Gen 2. The neat 500 sparkles, yet Fiat trades on its good name to sell the bloated L range.

12 November 2013
What starts out as a great idea on paper and appeals as a concept soon turns into production reality with bulk, weight to meet safety regs and the ability to turn it into a crossover for marketing! Fiat L and MINI Counrtryman being cases in point. Yuk.

12 November 2013
Poorly judged styling has cost manufacturers dearly in the past. That's why they all use focus groups and typically play it safe now. Remember the fuss surrounding the launch of these models: Ford Sierra Ford Scorpio Mk2 Bangle's 5, 6 and 7-series BMWs Subaru Impreza Mk2 Hyundai Coupe (4 headlight model) It's inconceivable a manufacturer would do something similar today.

12 November 2013
I remember as a child my uncle turning up in a new Ford Sierra and I thought he'd arrived from space... My dad had a Citroen Dyane at the time so I can be forgiven for thinking almost every car I saw had just arrived from space. I'm off the ebay now to search for a Dyane...

12 November 2013
[quote=Beastie_Boy]I remember as a child my uncle turning up in a new Ford Sierra and I thought he'd arrived from space... [/quote] Yes, the Sierra proved to be a very successful car for Ford but when it was launched it can't be underestimated just how much the styling split opinion, remember it was a direct replacement for the ageing Cortina. I'm old enough to remember watching the Sierra being discussed on television news back in the day - that's controversial.

12 November 2013
[quote=MikeSpencer][quote=Beastie_Boy]I remember as a child my uncle turning up in a new Ford Sierra and I thought he'd arrived from space... [/quote] Yes, the Sierra proved to be a very successful car for Ford but when it was launched it can't be underestimated just how much the styling split opinion, remember it was a direct replacement for the ageing Cortina. I'm old enough to remember watching the Sierra being discussed on television news back in the day - that's controversial.[/quote]

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