Fiat Multipla

12 MOULD BREAKERS

Never mind the quality, feel the width

FORTUNATELY it was never sold here, because someone at Fiat was wise enough to realise it would have had a negative sales impact. Apparently just looking at the Multipla can make you feel unkind about the whole brand.

The five-door Multipla didnít so much break the MPV mould as melt it, but only a Ďluckyí few people at Wheels have driven one.

The two rows of three seats, so that the driver sits in a jolly trio up front, was an unusual way of tackling the space race, but this also made it look quite wide.

Whatís hard to understand is why the designers then decided to add some Ďflourishesí that make the Multipla look like it was based on the kind of creatures only found at the bottom of oceanic trenches.

Surprisingly, it did appeal to some aesthetes and was even put on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1999, but then that museum also once featured a woman sitting in a chair for 750 hours.

Those who've been in a Multipla have actually been quite complimentary about how it drives, and how practical it is, but then being inside a Multipla is the best way to appreciate it, because you canít see it from there.

Italians loved the car, of course, because itís a Fiat, and youíll see plenty of them zipping around Rome, spoiling the views.

Global dominance did not result, however, and the carís quirky three-plus-three interior is also yet to be widely taken up by other brands as a common passenger configuration.

Still, the fact that it managed to sell from 1998 to 2010 is proof that quite a lot of people genuinely donít care what their car looks like.

LEAP OF FAITH

Very useful for taxis (though itís uncomfortable to sit so close to the driver) and people with four children.

PLUS MINUS

TEST OF FAITH

Fiat stylists, take a bow.

There really isnít a single thing you could do to make it look uglier.