Fiat Thinks Outside the Box with new Panda and Camper Concepts


As Huey Lewis & The News told us in 1986 It’s Hip to be a Square and now Fiat has embraced the idea with a selection of boxy show cars, all built on the same platform as the upcoming Panda.

No longer a cub-sized cutie the Panda has grown in stature—in fact Fiat even describes it as a “Mega-Panda” and that has allowed the Italians to come up with a range of different vehicles using the same underpinnings.

It’s chunky and high-riding, with box arches and that retro Eighties eight-bit look that’s right on trend. Call it the Radwood influence. Fiat says its designers took inspiration from the firm’s famous Lingotto factory in the heart of Turin to create an appearance of structural lightness, optimal use of space and a feeling of brightness. Lingotto’s rooftop test track, where cars would be driven straight off the production line which rose up through the building, even gets a nod with graphic tributes in the dashboard and seats. Recycled plastics and bamboo are used for a more sustainable interior, while the platform allows for the installation of electric, hybrid and conventional ICE powertrains.

The production version of the Panda is due to be revealed in the summer, and a new model will follow each year until 2027. Those will share its running gear and have been hinted at with four further concepts, which get progressively more quirky.

First up there’s an SUV or “Giga-Panda” which is stretched to become more family-friendly than the city car. Then there’s a Fastback, designed to be a little more sporty and offer improved efficiency through its more aerodynamic profile. Fiat has had plenty of previous success with fastback designs in Brazil and the Middle East and reckons the shape would also be popular in Europe.

Fiat Panda camper concept

Next it’s the #vanlife lovers who Fiat hopes to win over with its Camper concept. The overland adventure-ready van offers “the new dolce vita style and reconnects people to each other and nature, and pays homage to the “Fun-ctionality” of the Panda from the 80s, recalling the versatility of a car that was made for the city with the features of a SUV and the soul of a trusty companion,” says Fiat.

Last is a compact pickup that’s designed to, er, pick up, where the Strada pickup leaves off. Currently that’s the best-selling vehicle in Brazil and Fiat hopes that “Fun and practicality will spread throughout the world with this model.”

It’s not clear which of these model would join the electric 500e in the USA, but with increased size and utility of the Panda and its derivatives the Stellantis-owned brand has definitely got its eyes on the whole round—or should that be square?—world.




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