FIAT unveils bold Panda concepts dressed as a pick-up, SUV, camper, fastback and city car

At the Geneva Auto Show FIAT has revealed its plans to launch a Panda-based vehicle every year until the year 2027. The initiative kicked off at the show with the reveal of five concept cars in line with this vision of a next-generation Panda family that’ll grow bigger with time.

For those who don’t know, the Panda is FIAT’s minicar that’s been in production ever since 2011. The vehicle comes in a basic hatchback form and a much tougher Panda Cross version that’s called the Panda Cross. For the future, FIAT wants to expand the basic body styles to the pickup, campervan, SUV and coupe crossover with the Panda concepts that’ll eventually take shape as production cars. The concepts in question for the global market here are all based on the platform by Stellantis, the parent company.

Designer: FIAT

At the time of writing, FIAT hasn’t given any insight into the technical details but has confirmed that all these variants will be bigger than the original Panda. Also, they’ve confirmed that the production version (sometime in the future) of these concepts will come with the option of gas, hybrid or electric powertrain. Other than that, around 80 percent of the components will be common to all the versions. So let’s have a look at all of them in detail right away.

City Car Concept

As clear from the name, the City Car will be a glimpse into the general direction of the brand in the future. This one is similar to the Panda in more ways than not. There are eye-candy square doors and peculiar pink tires (inspired by the Barbie, maybe). The car is inspired by the iconic Lingotto building in Turin known for its rooftop test track. Reminiscences of the structure are apparent in the design of the concept including things like the structural lightness, overall bright theme and the space optimization on the inside. Talking of the interiors, they are made from sustainable materials including bamboo and recycled plastics.


Pick-Up Concept

FIAT already has a foothold in the Brazilian pickup market in the form of the Strada. The second concept wants to build on the success by inculcating fun and functionality with this concept. The perfect amalgam of a pick-up with the functionality of an LCV and the comfort of an SUV, the vehicle is fit for urban lifestyle. For people who like an outdoorsy lifestyle, the FIAT pickup concept sets the tone for the future.

Fastback Concept

This concept is an ode to the success of FIAT Fastback in Brazil and the FIAT Tipo in the Middle East and Africa. Created on the same modular platform and bearing a very sporty look, the Fastback concept builds on the sustainable commitment of the brand without compromising on the performance quotient. This comes courtesy of the aerodynamic performance for lower fuel consumption.

SUV Concept

This is a more muscular version of the Panda resulting in a more spacious interior for a family to ride in comfort. On those lines, the car is loaded with all that a family would desire in a performance SUV. Top that off with the safety, versatility and attractive design of the concept and FIAT lovers will have enough reason not to go elsewhere.

Camper Concept

Lastly, FIAT has created the ultimate all-terrain vehicle that brings adventure seekers close to nature without much fuzz. According to FIAT, the concept pays homage to “Fun-ctionality” of the 80s Panda. It has the versatility of a regular car for urban commutes and the toughness of an SUV to go adventuring anytime, anywhere.

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Renault 5 E-Tech is a retro-futuristic electric revamp of R5 hatchback from the 70s

When we talk of cult favorite hatchbacks that rocked the scene back in the 70s, Renault was right up there with the best thanks to the R5. Now, the French carmaker has reincarnated the iconic sports car in a retro-modern avatar they call the Renault 5 E-Tech. All set to make its debut at the Geneva International Motor Show in February 2024, the modernized version carries the same fun and styling in an environmentally friendly iteration.

The obvious differences between the two include more rugged wheel arches. Boxier body frame and a flowing soft-top roof. Other changes come in the form of the original bonnet air intake morphed into a charging port. Of course, to stay abreast of the latest automotive trends, the LEDs illuminate the logo on the bonnet and accents on the front section!

Designer: Renault

The electric car is a five-door version of the classic sports car that dominated the scene for nearly five years. This newer version will be powered by a 100-kW electric motor that delivers 136 horsepower and has an impressive range of 400 km on a single full charge.

The electric car debuted back in 2021 as a concept from the brand with no surety about its future as a production-ready version. In fact, last year Renault joined forces with Pierre Gonalons (French designer/interior architect) to create the Renault 5 Diamant. Fast forward to 2023 and it is breaking the scene as a viable four-wheeler that is all set to steal the show. According to Renault, the 5 E-Tech will be assembled in their Douai plant in France. The car is all set to roll off the production lines next summer in Europe for an estimated price tag of around $27,636.

If you are already interested, the Renault 5 E-Tech can be pre-booked right away. Renault also has plans to come up with the Super5 and R5 Turbo versions sometime in the future depending on the consumer response to this current announced model.

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Nissan 20-23 concept is an electric hot hatch for city speed demons

Making an electric car boxy without drifting away from the idea of lending it a futuristic look takes a special skill set. That’s what Nissan has achieved with its new Concept 20-23, designed to be a fun city electric car that you’d want to “drive every day in London,” as Alfonso Albaisa, Nissan’s senior vice president for global design, put it.

He also emphasized the fact that the concept is inspired by the online racing world. To sum it up, the electric hatchback is the perfect intersection of modern city living, online gaming and zero-emission mobility. The car is a true reflection of the “Nissan Ambition 2030 target of introducing 27 electrified vehicles by the year 2030. THe Japanese automotive giant also plans to have solid-state batteries in all its EVs by 2028, thereby achieving a 65 percent reduction in the cost of energy storage.

Designer: Nissan

The electric hot hatch, crafted to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Nissan Design Europe, is fitted with an all-electric powertrain with the option to drive it in both urban and sporty modes. Formula-1 influence of the Concept 20-23 is evident as soon as you step inside via the scissor doors. White bucket seats and the square steering wheel mounted on a carbon fiber column indicate Nissan’s intent to pitch the EV to speed addicts. The minimalist interior enhances the concept’s distraction-free aesthetic, focused on just pushing the foot to the metal.

The aggressive aero styling radiates the sporty character of the concept amplified by the semi-circular dissected headlights and the taillights. Sporty elements like the huge rear lip spoiler, wide arches and the roof scoop feeding air add cool factor to the cute little sexy thing. If ever Mini Cooper would ever get some serious competition from an EV or any hatchback, this would be it.

For now, Nissan has no plans of pushing the Concept 20-23 into the production lines. However, we want to see this baby roll on the streets, given its killer sharp looks fused perfectly with the sumptuous contours where required. Hone its torque, gear ratios and power delivery capabilities, and motorheads have got a winning hatchback in proposition.

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MINI Spaceman reinvents the legendary hatchback’s iconic status

The current generation MINI Cooper is a prime example of powerful engineering, compact size and superior handling. That classic British styling in a nimble package denotes the freedom and spontaneity of commuting in comfort. And who can deny the unique look of this likable set of wheels?

Way back in 1959 when the first MINI burst into the scene, it baffled the automotive community – of course in a good sense. Thankfully, all these years the basic design of the MINI has been hooked on tight to the initial roots. Perhaps that’s why so many car lovers swear by this small power-packed car. To elevate the MINI into the next era of modernization dominated by lounge-styled commuting, the MINI Spaceman concept is born.

Designer: Leif Mortz

This hatchback concept is a culmination of a fun-to-drive vehicle that ditches the four-seater configuration for a futuristic three-seater setup. The idea is to cocoon the riders in comfort and leave room for lounging when desired. The rear on this one gives up some of the contours for a sharper aesthetic and more space, courtesy of the elongated boot section. Whether or not MINI fans will like this disbalance is completely subjective and depends on users’ needs. For someone with a family, this makes more sense, but for one who loves MINI for the pure fun of driving, it doesn’t hold much merit.

The sense of airiness is given precedence here with the use of more glass panels on all sides as compared to the current generation MINI. The seating configuration of the front seat can be oriented in the relaxation mode as it can be maneuvered in all directions depending to need. It can even be folded down to make space for additional poufs for relaxing comfortably on the rear seats. The perfect scenario for working in a scenic landscape or socializing with buddies. For a motorist’s delight, the MINI Spaceman will come in a convertible model too!

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These superimposed images showcase what the “average car” in each category would look like

In what could be a very insightful exercise for transportation designers, both country-specific and internationally, the guys at NeoMam Studios have superimposed as many as 25 pictures of cars within distinct, separate categories to create an image of “the average car”. This amalgamation of fronts and rears is interesting because it sees no brand, it sees no price, and it sees no cultural or budget constraints. All it is, is a visual mash-up of multiple cars across multiple brands to create something homogeneous. The “average car” series does two interesting things. It A. Shows us what’s common between cars of categories, and B. Shows us how some brands have also tried to be subtly different. There’s a distinct similarity in, for example, the taillight design of a Pickup versus a Sedan, or the grille on a Convertible versus the grille on a Crossover. It’s important for transportation designers to recognize these similarities and differences in car designs, so that it’s much easier to break the mold of design and create something truly new and daringly different. Let’s take a look at how these average cars look, and how designers of the future can break this pattern of predictability.

Designer: Designer: NeoMam Studios for Budget Direct.

The Average Pickup

Pickups are the best-selling vehicles in USA and are the sturdy backbone of Ford and GM’s business. Considering that basically the entire global pickup market is US-focused, it’s no surprise that size is everything when it comes to the average front. The sleek lines of Japanese and European models, like the Isuzu D-Max or Mercedes X-Class are toughened out with the more rugged, boxed appearance of the likes of the GMC Sierra and Chevy Silverado.

The average rear of a pickup shows quite a few competing elements trying to muscle through. A full rear-light pillar on both sides wins out over more minimalist approaches, like on the F-150. The average pickup will also ride a lot higher than might be expected, sticking to its original working vehicle roots rather than going down the line of many modern versions which often seem more intent on looking like performance cars than carrying a load of stakes.

The Average UTE

Where would we be without the beloved UTE? The rest of the world considers them a bit of an anomaly but here at home they reign supreme, so much so that pretty much every manufacturer selling in Australia offers a UTE version. With UTEs’ fronts ranging from compacts or saloons, like the Jumbuck, to commercials like the VW Caddy, all the way to full on American-style pickups in the mold of the HiLux, the average front is quite a mix of styles. What wins out is the form of lower riding saloon, but with sterner lines and a flattened bonnet giving its appearance a touch of American muscle.

Though UTEs are all about party at the front and business at the back, the average rear is surprisingly heavy-duty, looking exactly like what a saloon/pickup cross should. There are hints of the side bars and tarp and Tonneau cover supports that set UTEs apart from their American cousins but by the looks of things the average UTE would have carrying capacity to match any of them.

The Average Hatchback

Though everyone will have their favorites for different reasons, hatchbacks generally follow a formulaic pattern, which was why it was notable when some strong features shone through despite being averaged out. Its height to width ratio, for example, makes it a lot taller than one would think, which would suggest that manufacturers have been quietly super-sizing hatchback models to meet modern tastes while still striving for them to fit into “small” car categories. This is also borne out in the bonnet size, which is in line with a smaller engine housing, but appears to be relatively tiny compared to the rest of the car’s dimensions.

The average rear is also an eye-opener for hatchback aficionados. Gone is the sporty fastback style of the mid-00s and in is a far more reserved, Yaris-style straight rear. Though that doesn’t mean that the sporty nature of hatchbacks has been completely eroded, the averaging out also delivers a dual exhaust system to keep the horsepower ticking over.

The Average Sedan

The average sedan actually turns out to look anything but average, showing off some slick lines and boasting a meaty radiator grille. The wraparound headlights are definitely on-point and the bonnet shows off a sweeping curve around the sides which follows the current Japanese design trend from, among others, the new Subaru Legacy and Toyota Camry. So, even though the averaging methodology is completely objective, here it’s definitely managed to create something which would fit right in at any of the major shows.

The rear of our average sedan takes a slightly less bold and adventurous route. The boot and rear shoulders would more befit a boxer than a ballet dancer but who’s to say that sturdy and uncompromising isn’t exactly what the average sedan driver is looking for. The rear intakes and dual exhausts add a dash of flair but, overall, it’s a solid, dependable look that wins out.

The Average SUV

Sports utility vehicles or SUVs are a heavy-duty lot which don’t really know whether they want to be off-roaders or city-tractors. Due to this vehicular dysmorphia and the different design directions taken by the various marques, we discovered that the average SUV came out with some fascinating features. The front is stern, with an imposing and slightly protruding nose and the kind of grille that wouldn’t look out of place on a semi-truck.

The average rear has very much the appearance of one of the original archetypes of the class, the Chevy Suburban. This elongated and box-like rear was originally to give extra room for your camping gear, but from the look of the average SUV we’ve created, they have now become the size of a small house.

The Average Convertible

As a favorite of design teams who get to let loose with lines, curves and features, each convertible is unique and so an interesting challenge for the averaging process. Drawing from Corvettes, Porsches, S-Classes and many more, the result is that most of the kinks and curves are ironed out, though the car still holds onto its low-profile character and the extra lower front air intakes to keep the likely souped-up powertrain chilled.

The average rear however really takes on some of the best sporty features from the convertible class. A quad exhaust system should keep air flowing nicely, while the drag-reducing aerodynamic curves wouldn’t hold the car back. The average convertible would obviously also have the hood down, what’s the point in having a convertible otherwise.

The Average Crossover

Crossovers are already a considerable mix of ideas, in that they generally share a design platform with smaller cars but get amped up to be like milder versions of SUVs, so creating an average version suited it perfectly. This can be seen in the front, where the narrowing curves around the headlights lead to a more tapered grille than the more in-your-face battering ram approach of an SUV. The windscreen and upper part are also more petite than pronounced, aiming for substance rather than statement.

The rear of the average crossover is also a lot more understated than the SUV but carries a lot more heft than the average sedan or hatchback, though it has a similarly low profile. It displays nice lines below the brake lights and a sleek rear window design.

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[Via Budget Direct]

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