02.11.2004 With prototypes of their latest top-of-the-range model, codenamed 'New Large', driving around virtually uncamouflaged, Fiat are preparing themselves for a relaunch into the full-size class next year

Fiat New Large

Fiat have high hopes for the New Large, which will enter a generally unsaturated market segment next year. These first undisguised photos reveal a stylish, well designed car that will be a worthy successor to the popular Croma.

With prototypes of their latest top-of-the-range model driving around virtually uncamouflaged, Fiat are preparing themselves for a relaunch into the full-size class next year.

This represents a market segment from which Fiat have been absent since the demise of their popular Croma model in 1996.

Due to limited funds, Fiat were unable to develop worthy successors to the Croma and Tempra.

The Croma was jointly developed with Saab, and also formed the base of the Alfa Romeo 164 and Lancia Thema. However, GM-owned Saab were no longer prepared to continue the alliance with Fiat at the time of the Croma’s demise, and launching their 9-5, based on a GM floorpan.

As a result, Fiat decided to try and carry the weight of their two larger models through with the mid-sized Marea and Marea Weekend.

Ironically, the recent GM-Fiat alliance has now provided Fiat with the basis for which to build their new full-size car - the Epsilon platform.

Lancia Megagamma

Giorgetto Giugiaro's 'Megagamma' introduced the idea of a compact, yet sleek, upmarket motor car. Now almost three decades later, the principle's of this concept are being worked into the New Large.

The resulting New Large certainly bears the hallmarks of a serious executive and family car in the full-size segment.

Obvious details are the handsome chrome grille, characteristic sweeps above the front and rear wheel arches and a generous sky window which appears to sweep right the way back to just before the tailgate.

Fiat have high hopes for the model, which will enter a generally unsaturated market next year. Their optimism is also for a good reason, seeing that the main competition no longer have cars in the full-size category.

Ford no longer have a Scorpio (estate) in their model line-up, whilst Renault have tried to launch themselves into the luxury market with the Vel Satis to miserable avail.

Indeed, the only cars worth comparing with the New Large are the Japanese offerings and the Opel Signum, which is based on the same Epsilon platform.

Chrysler have also launched their Pacifica model, which could be regarded as the only 'American' competitor, although it is to be built in Austria.

This aside, there is an ironic story tied in with the New Large. Designed by Italdesign-Giugiaro, the New Large offers generous head room, more fitting for an MPV than an estate.

This carries on Giugiaro’s believe that in order to save on interior space and exterior dimensions, the passengers have to sit higher.

This is a philosophy which he has believed in ever since his innovative Lancia Megagamma concept dating from 1978. It introduced a new concept of a compact, yet sleekly tall, up-market motor car.

Giorgetto Giugiaro says, ”Passengers must be seated in a more vertical position thus improving the height of the driver and passenger compartment and reducing the environmental impact of the vehicle.

Fiat New Large

The dimensions of the New Large are generous: at 4700mm it is just 20mm less than Alfa Romeo's big executive lugger, the 166, while the height is a room-inducing 1600mm & the width is 2830mm.

"Less public space taken up by car means an improved flow of road traffic and more available parking spaces.”

At the time Fiat were concerned that the Megagamma was too out-of-touch with the buying public. Giugiaro recalls, "Umberto Agnelli of Fiat Auto told me: 'Nice car, all that's required is the courage to produce it.' It was a missed opportunity."

Almost thirty years after the introduction of the Megagamma, Fiat are finally using its general concept for a large portion of vehicles that are spearheading their image re-launch, which includes the promising New Large.

Let this be a lesson for Fiat to be more perceptive to design trends in the future.


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