Generations Timeline, Specs and Pictures
In 2003, Fiat launched the Idea range.
It was a small MPV based on the Fiat Punto platform. It was good to move people in or around town and it offered more interior room than its hatchback sibling.
After seven years on the market, the small MPV received a facelift that brought more than just a new look. The Idea had to be fitted with new engines, since there were newer, stricter, pollution norms. The Italian car-maker decided to change some exterior features of the car.
The Idea was built in Italy and Brazil as well. For the European version, the exterior changes were mild and affected the bumpers and the headlights. But it was not such a big change as those found on the Brazilian brother, which featured nicer headlights, extended and angled. The car didn’t look just like a pumped-up Panda. It had its own visual identity, while the European version did not.
Inside, the Idea was a good deal since it offered enough room for four adults. With three passengers in the back, it was more difficult since the car was only 1.7 m (66.8”) wide. The instrument cluster was placed in the middle of the dashboard, so the driver was not the only one to see the speedometer. The high-mounted gear-stick offered a good driving position. The Brazilian cousin had the instrument cluster in front of the driver and the gear-stick on the floor. The car offered 320 liters (11.3 cu-ft) of trunk space, but with the rear seats folded and tilted that value reached 1420 liters (50.4 cu-ft).
While the urban environment required small-sized vehicles, the customers asked for large enough cars where four adult-sized occupants could sit in comfort.
That was a tough one.
When Fiat built the Multipla, everyone complained about its design, and the car managed to rank as the second-placed ugliest car in the world after Pontiac Aztek. In Europe, it was the ugliest car ever! No one cared about its ability to carry up to six people in a vehicle short enough to park everywhere. Fiat learned its lesson and developed the Idea, an MPV built on top of a small-segment platform.
Fiat tried again to offer a spacious car in a small-sized vehicle, and this time the Idea was right. Even though it was tall, it didn’t look like a pile of smoothed bricks placed on top of the other. The tall front fascia with Punto-like headlights and grille was followed by a short hood and a big windshield. On the sides, the tall door panels took more than half of the doors’ height. Fiat installed vertically mounted taillights in the back, but not placed as high as in a regular Punto.
Inside, there was joy and happiness thanks to the high seating position that allowed plenty of legroom even for six-footers (over 1.8 m high). The instrument cluster found its way in the middle of the dashboard, which featured a dual-tone design. Thus, even the rear-seat passengers could have read the speedometer. There was room for three adults in the back, but the car was designed with a pair of wide individual seats and a folding armrest.
Under the hood, the Italian carmaker carried-over the engines from the Punto. There were six engines available, with a maximum power output ranged between 70 hp and 101 hp.