Fiat’s 500 is already what most would consider a “city car,” but as with MINI’s swelling Cooper Hatch, it’s much larger than its predecessor.
For the Italian automaker, that means there’s room to build a sub-500 model to more directly compete with vehicles like Smart’s Fortwo — a car that’s about as compact as a four-wheeled people-mover can get. Italian media are reporting that Fiat has already begun testing the new model, which will be dubbed the “Topolino.”
Why Topolino? The Italian word for “small mouse” was given as a nickname for the original Fiat 500 (built between 1936 and 1955). Unlike the proposed new model, though, the original Topolino was actually bigger than the succeeding 500.
At about five inches shorter than the 500, the new Topolino will be the perfect size for tight urban streets and cramped parking lots. Interestingly, Fiat is considering both two-door and four-door body styles, both likely to receive the brand’s two-cylinder TwinAir powertrain that currently slots within Euro-spec Fiat and Alfa Romeo models. Power should be no more than 100 horses, keeping in mind that there won’t be much “car” to motivate.
Nothing is confirmed yet, but should the Topolino receive the production nod, it could debut as early as next year’s Paris Motor Show or the 2017 Geneva Motor Show. At launch, the Smart car won’t be its only rival; Volkswagen’s up!, Toyota’s Aygo, Peugeot’s 108, and Citroën’s C1 also occupy the micro-car space. MINI is also rumored to build a sub-Cooper Hatch model in the near future.
Whether the Topolino makes it to the U.S. is a mystery which will only be solved by both the 500’s sales progress and American automotive consumer trends.
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