19 February 2004

NEW FIAT IDEA IN UK

The new Fiat Idea, which goes on sale in the UK on Saturday, 21 February, is Fiat Auto's first entry in the mini-MPV market, a segment which is now being targeted by most major car manufacturers.

Benefiting from the company's unrivalled expertise in the field of small cars, the new Fiat Idea is a class-leading, up-to-the-minute vehicle with all the versatility and practicality demanded by the modern family.  Its inspired design means that although its exterior dimensions are only marginally bigger than the average supermini, its interior space is enormous, whilst its clever seating arrangements and well thought out storage facilities will prove to be a boon to all those confronted with the problems of family life on the move.

Five versions of the new Idea, priced from £9995 to £12,495 on-the-road, will be available from launch, embracing three trim levels - Active, Dynamic and Eleganza -and a choice of engines: a spirited FIRE 1.4 litre 16-valve 95 bhp petrol unit, or Fiat Auto's widely acclaimed 1.3 litre 16-valve 70 bhp MultiJet diesel engine - the smallest and most  advanced second generation common rail direct injection turbodiesel in the world.

Both power plants are offered with a choice of either a 5-speed manual gearbox or, later in the year, Dualogic transmission, a sophisticated, clutchless 5-speed sequential manual shift with a selectable, fully automatic mode.

Within particularly compact exterior dimensions, the new Fiat Idea boasts an exceptionally spacious, flexible interior, at the heart of which is a unique rear seat combining a 40:20:40 split/folding and 60 degree reclining backrest with a 60:40 split/folding and sliding seat base.

In conjunction with front and centre rear seats which fold forward to form table tops, this innovative new system offers no less than 32 different seating configurations, including the facility to fold front and rear seats into a 'couchette' configuration which allows two people to lie down and stretch out fully.

Sliding both sections of the rear seat base fully forwards increases luggage capacity by 92 litres from 320 to 412 litres - 62 litres more than the Vauxhall Meriva, one of Idea's main competitors. And folding all three sections of the seat back fully forwards provides a total of 1420 litres of luggage space - 10 litres more than the Vauxhall Meriva.

In addition, the Idea incorporates no less than 27 diverse storage compartments, 24 of which are fitted as standard on all versions.

The Fiat Idea's equipment specification has been carefully considered to simplify and enhance life on board, with ABS, remote central locking, driver and passenger front airbags, electric front windows, Dualdrive power steering and Follow Me Home headlamps fitted as standard across the range. This comprehensive standard equipment package is further bolstered by a range of innovative, safety and comfort enhancing options such as a SkyDome glass sunroof occupying nearly 70% of the new Idea's roof area, rear parking sensors, side and window airbags and a CD sound system that can play MP3 music files.

Fiat Auto has equipped the new Idea with class leading levels of both passive and active safety. Allied to a chassis designed to provide exceptional torsional stiffness yet absorb impact with maximum efficiency, the Idea may be fitted with up to six airbags, whilst height adjustable front seatbelts with pretensioners and load limiters, three-point rear seatbelts, anti-submarining front and rear seats, and Fiat's FPS Fire Prevention System are all fitted as standard.

The new Fiat Idea also offers the full range of braking, traction control and stability systems available today: ABS anti-lock brakes complete with electronic brakeforce distribution, ASR to limit wheel slip during acceleration, MSR to modulate engine torque whilst changing down, and a sophisticated ESP to control stability through bends. Vehicles fitted with ESP also benefit from hydraulic brake assistance and a unique Hill Holder function to facilitate smooth hill starts.

Incorporating true Multi Purpose Vehicle levels of interior flexibility and practicality, the new Fiat Idea offers exceptional quality, comfort and specification levels, combined with unrivalled safety and outstanding value for money.

DESIGN

The innovative new Fiat Idea combines the elevated driving position, space efficiency and flexible practicality of a compact MPV with the lavish equipment levels, state-of-the-art technology and superior driving dynamics of larger, higher segment vehicles.

Styled by Italdesign, (Fabrizio Giugiaro), and with an interior by Fiat Centro Stile, the new Idea marries smooth, naturally aerodynamic lines with broad, muscular shoulders and generous wheel arches to create a discreet yet purposeful one-box design.

The front of the new Idea incorporates powerful headlamps with an understated, chrome highlighted grille and a deep front airdam complete with urban-essential rubbing strips, making the car instantly recognisable as the latest addition to the Fiat family.

In profile, a steeply raked windscreen pillar and bold waistline support a full 3.6 square metres of glazing, a figure rising to an exceptional 4.9 square metres when incorporating the new SkyDome electric glass sunroof.

Optional integral, aerodynamic roof rails combine with tinted glass and door pillars finished in black to emphasise the clean homogeny of the design.

At the rear, tall, upright tail-lights flank a practical, top hinged tailgate offering full width access to the loadspace across the low-silled aperture.

Life on Board

Despite compact exterior dimensions - 1.70 m wide, 1.66 m high and 3.93 m long, with a wheelbase of just 2.51 m - the new Fiat Idea boasts an exceptionally spacious, flexible interior.

The combination of a raised driving position, height-adjustable seat, rake and reach adjustable steering wheel and generous glazing afford the Fiat Idea driver a comfortable, ergonomically adaptable driving position allied to excellent all-round visibility.

The innovative driver's instrument binnacle is centrally located within the soft-touch upper fascia, whilst the gear lever's position at the base of the centre console brings it to within the closest practical proximity of the steering wheel, allowing for quick, accurate changes with minimum physical effort. Careful consideration has gone into the placement of all other console based functions, such as the stereo radio being placed at the highest level to offer ease of access with minimal driver distraction.

The seats, produced in accordance with principles developed by Professor Dal Monte, head of the Biometrics Department at the CONI Sport Medicine Institute, offer exceptional comfort and support, devoting particular attention to passenger posture and lateral containment.

At the heart of the new Fiat Idea's outstanding interior flexibility is a unique rear seat, combining a 40:20:40 split/folding and 60 degree reclining backrest with a 60:40 split/folding and sliding seat base, which on Dynamic and Eleganza versions includes ISOFIX mountings for two child seats.

In conjunction with front and centre rear seats which fold forwards to form flat table tops, the system offers no less than 32 different seating configurations, including the folding of front and rear seats into a 'couchette' position, allowing two people to lie down and stretch out fully.

Sliding both sections of the rear seat base fully forward increases luggage capacity by 92 litres from 320 to 412 litres without the need to fold down any part of the seat back; whilst folding all three sections of the 40:20:40 seat back fully forward provides a capacious, 1420 litres of luggage space in total. The seating can be adjusted from both inside the cabin and within the boot.

Extensive cabin storage features no less than 27 different storage points - 24 of which are incorporated as standard on all versions - including several fascia trays and a spacious glove box, a central cubby box incorporating CD, cup and business card holders, capacious door pockets, optional, front to back ceiling-mounted compartments, a removable ashtray, and even a pull-out cup holder built into the headrest of the central, folding rear seat.

A comprehensive range of accessories includes a choice of 16" alloy wheels, aluminium pedals with rubber inserts, a leather steering wheel rim and gear knob, assorted loadspace nets including a dog containment screen, a demountable, load compartment tray, transverse roof bars rated to a 50 kg loading, and a wide selection of child seats, including a bespoke, Kiddy ISOFIX seat for children weighing up to
40 lbs.

SAFETY

The new Fiat Idea benefits from 15,000 hours of computer aided design, 60 crash tests, 100 HyGe slide simulations and 200 tests on components and subsystems, placing the new mini-MPV at the top of its category in terms of passive, active and preventive safety.

It meets preventive safety needs with an adjustable cockpit that adapts perfectly to drivers of any size. The combination of a raised driving position allied to an extensive glazed area, tinted to reduce glare, allows the best possible view of the road ahead. User-friendly ergonomics allow drivers to operate all instruments and controls without taking their eyes off the road. And the new Idea's excellent all-round visibility is further enhanced by the availability of optional rain, dusk and parking sensors.

PASSIVE SAFETY

Allied to a chassis designed to provide exceptional torsional stiffness yet absorb impact with maximum efficiency, the new Fiat Idea may be fitted with up to six airbags, whilst height-adjustable front seat belts with pretensioners and load limiters, three-point rear seat belts, anti-submarining front and rear seats, and an FPS Fire Prevention System are all fitted as standard. ISOFIX child seat attachments are standard equipment in Dynamic and Eleganza versions.

Airbags

The new Idea may be equipped with no less than six airbags: driver and passenger front and side airbags, as well as two window airbags providing head protection in the case of side impacts. Their operation is controlled by an electronic control unit that evaluates crash severity via a number of sensors located throughout the car.

The front passenger airbag may be deactivated manually via an ignition key switch on the fascia; a dashboard warning light indicates this condition. Though the seatbelt pretensioner remains active, a rear facing baby seat can therefore be safely fitted.

Automatic Door Locks

Available on selected models, automatic door locks activate on all doors as soon as the new Idea reaches 12 mph - an important safety and security feature.

ISOFIX Attachments

Dynamic and Eleganza versions of the new Fiat Idea are fitted with ISOFIX mountings to ensure the easy and safe installation of child seats. The attachments take the form of two pairs of brackets located at the base of the two outer rear seat squabs. The bracket sizes and settings are in accordance with European standards so that the seat can be re-used on any other similarly equipped vehicle.

Fire Prevention System

The FPS includes a cut-off valve and an inertia switch which immediately locks the electric petrol pump. This prevents fuel loss in the case of impact, roll-over or damage to the fuel lines. The fuel tank, located in a protected position in front of the rear axle, is formed in a plastic resistant to mechanical stress and fire. Special care has been taken over the location of key components within the engine bay, electrical system, fuel system and brakes to minimise the risk of damage. The new Idea's interior trim is also flame resistant.

ACTIVE SAFETY

The servo assisted braking system features two independent crossover hydraulic circuits to ensure prompt, linear braking and shorter stopping distances.

Via 257 mm ventilated front discs and 203 mm drum brakes at the rear, the new Fiat Idea offers the full range of braking, traction control and stability systems on the market today: ABS anti-lock brakes, complete with electronic brakeforce distribution, ASR to limit wheelspin during acceleration, MSR to modulate engine torque whilst changing down, and a sophisticated ESP to control stability through bends. Vehicles fitted with ESP also benefit from hydraulic brake assistance and a unique Hill Holder function to facilitate smooth hill starts.

ABS

An advanced BOSCH 8 ABS system, featuring four active sensors, four channels and an electronic control unit with 12 solenoids, is fitted as standard across the entire Fiat Idea range.

The system is complemented by an Electronic Brakeforce Distributor (EBD) that governs the braking action on the rear axle to prevent the wheels locking and ensure full control of the car in all situations. The system also adapts its operation to wheel grip conditions and brake pad efficiency to reduce pad overheating and the brake servo thrust requirement.

ASR and MSR

The new Idea can also be equipped, as an option, with a sophisticated Anti Slip Regulation system (ASR) to restrict wheel slip in cases of reduced grip. ASR (Antriebs Schlupf Regelung) traction control works at any speed, and prevents the driven wheels from spinning by adjusting torque according to available levels of grip.

The MSR (Motor Schleppmoment Regelung) cuts in when a gear is shifted down abruptly under conditions of low grip. The system restores torque to the engine to prevent skidding as a result of wheel lock-up.

Both ASR and MSR are available when ESP is ordered as an option, along with Hydraulic Brake Assist.

HBA

On Ideas without ESP, emergency brake assistance takes the form of Emergency Valve Assistance (EVA); a mechanical system located inside the brake servo. On vehicles fitted with ESP, the function is carried out electronically by the ABS control unit and is known as Hydraulic Brake Assistance (HBA). Both systems carry out an identical function with equal efficiency.

ESP

The new Fiat Idea also offers a permanently engaged Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) which activates to help control the car when stability is at risk.

Via sensors monitoring car body rotation, lateral acceleration and steering wheel input, the system assesses vehicle stability and the proximity of either an understeering or oversteering slide. The system restores stability by applying smoothly modulated braking to the appropriate wheel individually, while simultaneously reducing engine power. Engine power reduction is also carefully modulated to ensure a minimum of performance loss and, hence, continued driver satisfaction.

Hill Holder

Fiat's Hill Holder system helps drivers pull smoothly away from an upwards-facing hill start. Operating via the ESP longitudinal acceleration sensor when first gear is engaged and both clutch and brake pedals are pressed, the control unit maintains front calliper pressure for about 1.5 seconds after the brake pedal is released to eliminate the risk of rolling backwards and ensure a smooth pull away. Hill Holder does not operate when setting off downhill in first gear, but does so when reverse is engaged and the driver wishes to back uphill.

MODEL RANGE AND EQUIPMENT

The Fiat Idea will be available in five versions from launch, as follows:

1.4 16v Active                                              £9995

1.4 16v Dynamic                                          £11,245

1.4 16v Eleganza                                          £12,495

1.3 16v MultiJet Active                                   £10,895

1.3 16v MultiJet Dynamic                               £12,145

The three specification levels include the following:

Active

  • ABS anti-lock braking with EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution)
  • Electric front windows with driver's 'One Touch' facility
  • Remote central locking and alarm
  • Driver and passenger front airbags
  • Dualdrive electric power steering
  • Height and reach-adjustable steering wheel
  • Height-adjustable driver's seat
  • Sliding/split/reclining (40/20/40) rear seat
  • Heated rear window with intelligent wash/wipe
  • 'Follow Me Home' headlights
  • RDS radio cassette with six speakers
  • Body coloured bumpers
  • Fiat Code II engine immobiliser

 

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