07.03.2005 One of the most functional concept cars unveiled IN GENEVA is the Fiat X 1/99, styled by a group of Master degree design students from the Istituto Europeo di Design in Turin
One of the most functional concept cars unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show is the Fiat X 1/99 concept. This particular car was styled by a group of Master degree design students from the Istituto Europeo di Design in Turin. The project was held in conjunction with Pininfarina’s Lowie Vermeersch, and Fiat’s Brand Promotion and Marketing divisions.
The X 1/99 represents one of the first full-scale concept cars to be ever presented by a design school at an event as exclusive as the Geneva International Motor Show.
As the X 1/99 nametag suggests, the concept was based on the new Fiat Punto platform (Progetto 199) and measures 4,064 mm long, 1,790 mm wide, 1,293 mm high and has a wheelbase of 2,570 mm. Despite the car being based on the next-generation front-engined Punto platform, the styling suggests a rear mid-engine configuration. This is underlined by the low nose and the cooling louvers styled onto the rear lid, which evidently harks back to the brilliant Fiat X 1/9 of the ‘70s.
Despite the basic layout, the new concept is a totally different vehicle in terms of spirit to the original. Firstly, whereas the classic shape marked the starting point for the student’s design brief, their creation has resulted in a fresh new design, using organic curves rather than the origami-folded edges and wedge-forms that were originally penned by Bertone’s Marcello Gandini. Secondly, the concept car is a true 2+2, whereas the original was a strict 2-seater. The new car is therefore far more practical as an everyday car, and less of a thorough sportscar as the original so successfully became.
Enthusiastically, the students showed the Italiaspeed team how the innovative roof system works. The folding hardtop is a totally new concept, developed together with leading folding roof specialist Webasto A. G., a partnership company to the Pininfarina Group. The concept’s silver roof panel folds backwards and down into the interior so that the headlining of the roof forms the rear seat padding.
The roof panel has also been styled with indentations to provide additional comfort to the passengers when it is in the lowered position.
The only issue with the design is that rear passengers have to get out of the car before the roof is folded or erected. Despite this, market research has proven that cars carry only 1.4 people on average, so rear seats in such cars are only marginally used. Yet, maybe there is another solution along these lines, whereby the roof folds vertically behind fixed rear seats.
The fresh and functional thinking behind the concept epitomizes the future of Fiat, namely ‘FUNction’ becoming the official motto during the X 1/99’s conception. As the students explain, “fun and function should be one.
The final model, which is only a static representation (although with fully functioning electric roof and semi-detailed interior) was created by Cecomp, the development and modelling company responsible for building the stunning 2003 Lancia Fulvia Coupé concept. Cecomp were also responsible for realising the innovative Fioravanti Vola and F100r open top sportscar concepts.
The IED Fiat X 1/99 is a thoroughly interesting design proposal, and the roof could almost certainly find its way onto a production car. The question is whether Fiat will build the concept as a successor to their Barchetta and former Coupé models. Such a decision partly depends on the public’s reaction to the students’ design, whereas a production version would almost undoubtedly carry over the Punto’s transverse front-engined layout.
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