extreme testing in sub-zero temperatures, Fiat have a range
of vehicles circling the ice-tracks at the Arjeplog-based
Colmis AB test centre. Established in 1985, Colmis AB have
1,000 hectares of lake at disposal for a variety of
ice-tracks prepared according to the requirements of the
customer. Typical types of surface preparation include
polished ice, packed snow, and planned snow.
variety of fixed land tracks have also been engineered on
site, including a 1.5 km long, ultra wide (50 m) straight
strip and three heated hill start runs with gradients of 10,
15 and 20 percent. With 400 hectares of land available,
Colmis also offer custom built land tracks. Colmis
additionally offer a natural hill, with a gradient of more
than 40 degrees. In February of last year, at the peak of
the winter testing season, the locals challenged as to whether any
car could make it up the hill.
Expert Fiat test driver Max Folegetti took up the challenge
two weeks later, claiming that he could tackle the hill with
his Fiat Panda 4x4 prototype as an ‘experiment’. With
Fiat Auto onlookers, the test driver floored the throttle of
the small 1.2 litre petrol engined car. With a simple
viscous coupling at the rear, the light weight Panda crawled
up the hill like an insect, making the challenge look little
more than an everyday run.
are a regular customer of Colmis, and use the facilities
extensively for a wide range of tests on their entire
vehicle development fleet, ranging from Fiat Doblo
facelift, to the Maserati GT Spyder. The cold climate allows
engineers to test the strength of plastic components, such
as bumpers, which can turn brittle under cold weather.
Handling can also be fine tuned to a far higher degree of
detail, as traction characteristics can be observed at lower
speeds on the controlled ice conditions.
Carmagnola is responsible for the team of Fiat
SUV test drivers. Fiat will be making full
use of the frozen lake ice-tracks until the end
of March. (Arjeplog Times)
Folegetti, expert Fiat test driver, effortlessly
cruising up the 40 degree gradient at the Colmis AB
test facility in his Fiat Panda 4x4 prototype early
last year. (Arjeplog Times)
prototype captured on camera is fitted with a 120bhp
1.9 litre JTD diesel engine, with a 6-speed gearbox
Recently, a Fiat SUV has been spotted prowling the streets
of Arjeplog, catching the attention of spy photographers
lying low behind snow banks. Despite the local dislike for
automotive spy photographers, one of the daring breed
managed to take several shots of the SUV, including an
up-close shot of a technical specification sheet, which
was carelessly pasted within clear sight behind the
windscreen. Even the chassis number of the prototype was
on public display, YY-2014.
to the heavily disguised black appraisal prototype, is the
proven 1.9 litre 8V JTD engine, with 120 bhp. The high
torque characteristics of this efficient engine are ideal
for the icy conditions of Swedish Lapland. Power is
transferred to all four wheels by a six-speed manual
gearbox, ensuring both maximal traction as well as
acceleration benefits. A 2.0 litre petrol engine, sourced
from the Fiat range, is also expected to be available.
Fiat SUV is a full 15 cm higher than the Alfa Romeo Kamal,
placing it slightly above the class average at a height of
approximately 177 cm. Observers should also take into
account that the prototype is fitted with small steel
wheels, fitted with narrow winter tyres. The production
car will be available with larger, low-profile tyres,
improving the stance.
Responsible for the team of Fiat SUV test drivers is
48-year old Marco Carmagnola, from the small town of Saint
Mauro near Turin, who has 26 years of experience as a test
driver for Fiat.
Despite the lack of free time during the
cold weather testing phase in Arjeplog, Marco enjoys the
location, praising the wonderful landscape and friendly
people. The team of test drivers will be making full use
of the lake ice tracks, which are only available for a
short period of time from January until the end of March.
as a joint project together with Suzuki, based on the
Suzuki A-Segment Platform, production will begin in the
second half of 2005, at the Magyar Suzuki Corporation
facility in Esztergom, near Budapest, Hungary. The Fiat
and Suzuki variants will have distinctive styling
differentiation, and will be sold independently through
the Fiat and Suzuki dealership networks. An international
premier for the Fiat version has been scheduled for the
Frankfurt IAA, in September.