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Geneva: Is Fiat Centoventi concept the next Panda?

Electric concept celebrates 120th birthday of Italian brand.

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The Fiat Centoventi has been unveiled at the Geneva motor show as a concept car celebration of its 120th birthday – Centoventi means ‘120’ in Italian.

However, the electric concept could have a far greater purpose, becoming Fiat’s next city car and succeeding the iconic Panda.

The Centoventi follows traditional Panda traits, being versatile, small and manoeuvrable, and packed with simple but clever ideas.

Choose your range

The car has been designed with a modular battery system – buyers would be able to opt for a ‘base’ model with a single battery and a range of just 62 miles, or to buy or rent up to three extra batteries, giving up to 310 miles of range if it’s needed.

Thanks to a sliding rail system for installation, Fiat says the battery swap can be undertaken in less than five minutes at a service centre. And the mounting points for the batteries are designed to ensure that adding or removing them does not affect the Centoventi’s weight distribution.

Fiat Centoventi concept The Car Expert
Photo: Andrew Charman

Paying homage to the original Panda’s modular dashboard and reconfigurable seats, the Centoventi will offer a widely customisable interior. The dashboard takes the form of a full-width shelf and – in a clear nod to history – the controls, dials and gauges sit on the steering column in a single pod. Fiat even placed a plush panda toy in the cup holders on the show stand.

The dashboard is filled with holes, into which features and accessories can be fitted using a Lego-like interlocking mounting system. An ‘extensive’ catalogue of accessories is promised.

Roof options

The open-top car can be fitted with fabric or hard roofs – including one with a built-in solar panel. Taking inspiration from a popular vacuum cleaner, an electric charging cable is concealed on its own reel just underneath the windscreen.

Most observers believe that the concept firmly previews Fiat’s future plans for city mobility, and a replacement for the Panda is becoming urgent. The current model, based on a ten-year-old design, recently scored a dismal zero-star Euro NCAP safety rating.

The digital display panel on the rear would be unlikely to survive into a production model… Photo: Andrew Charman

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Andrew Charman
Andrew Charman
Andrew is a road test editor for The Car Expert. He is a member of the Guild of Motoring Writers, and has been testing and writing about new cars for more than 20 years. Today he is well known to senior personnel at the major car manufacturers and attends many new model launches each year.