The Car That Missed the Mark

In the history of cars, there are some awful ones out there. One that nearly always ranks at the top (or bottom rather) of the list is the Pontiac Aztek. Some even list it among the most hated cars. There is no doubt it was an experiment gone wrong.  Others aren’t awful but definitely missed the mark, like the Fiat Multipla.

fiat multipla
Photo by Sjoerd van der Wal/Getty Images

The Fiat Multipla

The Fiat Multipla seems to truly take pride in being something that couldn’t be defined. The strange placement of the Fiat badge just under the windshield, to what looks like an extra portion of the car that couldn’t squeeze in its original plans, it is hard to figure out. Some have likened it to a shoe that is is just too small on the foot. 

Interior gone askew

The mark wasn’t only missed on the outside. The interior had issues like strangely placed gauges, some models having two sunroofs and three seats in the front row. There were even oddly off-centered interior handles that seem as if they should have been moved down about 4 inches. 

From a practical side, some of the Multipla features were truly a step forward. Like the higher seating giving more window visibility, the fold-out mirrors, and even a small bumper that would prevent door dings when opening. Unfortunately, famed Italian automobile designer, Roberto Giolito didn’t think to wrap all of that practicality in a visually pleasing package.

Marketing had a tough job to do with the Fiat Multipla

Fiat seemed to appreciate the fact that the vehicle was going to need some explaining, which is what the original commercial featuring German Formula One legend Michael Schumacher had to do. When a vehicle is such an enigma to market, one has to ask; Is it a car? No. Is it an MPV? Not quite. How does it fit six people? Where does the luggage go? To a room full of well-dressed individuals. All who appear more confused than interested in owning one of these. 

The writing seemed to be on the wall as the newer commercial implies everyone can fit in the vehicle, and it feels like home. It also has strange imagery of things rolling off the table and looking to be out of reach. To be fair, this is the most appropriate metaphor for the Fiat Multipla. It was a car that was just out of touch with the wants of the world. 

Due to a lack of enthusiasm from the market, sales continued to decline year after year until its ultimate demise in 2011. Even with a small jump in sales following a 2005 refreshed design, there was not enough interest to keep the Fiat Multipla around.