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First look: Fiat jumps the Qubo at the Paris show

Qubo boss: Fiat's mini people mover is clothed by Fiorano of Turin.

Fiat rolls out a frugal Qubo mini MPV along with a special 500 for the filthy rich

15 Sep 2008

FIAT will present small cars for both the thrifty and exceedingly wealthy at the forthcoming Paris motor show, with the Italian auto giant releasing details this week of a new mini-MPV and an indulgent version of the Fiat 500.

While the latter, known as the Castagna TenderTwo, is likely to be used as a runabout on rich estates, the seven-seat Qubo people-mover is aimed at the mainstream with its emphasis on economy and practicality.

Based on the Fiat Fiorano compact commercial van – which itself is a product of a joint-venture between Peugeot/Citroen (yielding the Citroen Nemo and Peugeot Bipper) – and built off the same platform as the Punto light car, the Qubo will be presented in Paris with a 1.3-litre turbo-diesel engine that can return just 3.8L/100km.

According to Fiat, the Qubo’s low fuel consumption and CO2 emission figure of 119g/km mean that the car is not only cheap and clean to run but also enable it to fit into the lowest possible tax bracket in Europe.

With emission-related taxes on the rise throughout Europe, Fiat believes this will become more important, not just for commercial vehicle operators but also for families.

The Qubo’s seats can be arranged in 16 different formations and the front passenger seat even folds forward to open up a load area that can carry very long items.

36 center imageLeft: Fiat Qubo and 500 Castagna TenderTwo (lower).

With passenger seats folded, the cargo space opens up to 2.5 cubic metres. Fiat claims that with five seats in place there is still 330 litres of boot space available.

The Qubo should still be quite easy when it comes to negotiating tight spaces because it is only 3.9 metres long.

A five-speed manual is the standard transmission, while an automated clutch automatic will also be an option.

The latter is an important inclusion, with a Fiat Australia spokesperson confirming to GoAuto this week that the automatic option made the vehicle an option for sale in Australia.

However, the company is still to decide whether to bring it here to join the Fiorano – which is due to be launched Down Under early next year.

The other Fiat to be presented in Paris will be used for far more leisurely purposes.

Modified by Italian coachbuilders Castagna, the TenderTwo harks back to the Fiat 500 Jolly that was produced by Ghia from 1958 to 1966 and was often used by the rich and famous as it was small enough to be stored on a yacht.

Fiat claims owners such as Yul Brenner and Aristotle Onassis used the original Jolly while in port, or to get around the golf course or their large estates.

Just like the original, the new car has cut-down doors and the roof has been removed. The interior has also been fitted out with luxurious leather trim, while a rear deck made from teak has been fitted.

The standard engine has been removed and replaced with an electric motor made by Swiss company Mes-DEA. This provides enough power for a top speed of 130km/h and a range of 140km and can be recharged in four hours.

Fiat has not disclosed pricing for the exclusive model, which will be built to order.

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