Baby ‘500+’ crossover never reached production as it would have needed a costly bespoke platform.
Fiat was developing a successor to the Grande Punto 10 years ago, but it was scrapped over worries that the now-booming B-segment was then “too competitive and not profitable enough”.
That car, shown here in an official sketch for the first time, would have been given the 500+ badge, and would have been bigger than the Fiat 500X that arrived in 2014.
But then boss of FCA (Fiat’s former parent company that merged with PSA to create Stellantis in 2021) Sergio Marchionne was sceptical about the viability of the project and the segment it would be entering.
“We almost did it. The stopping point for the project was that Marchionne was sceptical about the B-segment: too competitive and not profitable enough,” said Fiat’s European chief, Gaetano Thorel.
“We came up with a bigger 500 and they liked the idea: more aspirational than a Punto or a Ford Fiesta or a Renault Clio – so much better prices.
“So we planned it and we approved it. Then, a few months later, we had to stop it. Then it was a car again, then it had to stop again.”
The Punto crossover’s biggest issue was that “to make it properly”, it would have needed its “own platform” as the Grande Punto’s was “too out of date: both on safety and emissions”.
This, ultimately, killed the project, said Thorel, due to the costs involved (“none of the other [FCA] brands would share the cost”) and that it wasn’t feasible to create a platform for just one car.
Although scrapped, the idea morphed into the Fiat 600, the electric crossover revealed yesterday and which is bound for launch early next year. The Punto itself, meanwhile, is tipped to return within the next year as a compact electric supermini sharing its underpinnings with the Peugeot e-208.