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Weird press shots: the Fiat Multipla and its seats

Apply rose-tinted specs (in the wrong prescription) and it's a stone-cold classic

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The Fiat Multipla was a revolution. Well, it was meant to be. Launched slap-bang in the middle of MPV mania, it stacked two rows of three seats – and therefore seating for six – in the footprint of a Ford Focus. Tonnes of room, without actually taking up tonnes of room. Genius!

Fiat forgot just one thing. People are vain. And ‘people’ are a quite important factor to consider when you’re making a people carrier. Messing with the typical proportions of a family car (while making the windows nice and big for the kids) led to an odd shape, one Fiat’s designers fully leant into. ‘Let’s make this thing look really weird…’ they must have tittered to themselves, assuming that the buying public would dig ‘really weird’. We all bought chili-infused chocolate by the shedload, after all.

The public didn’t dig the Multipla, though. A country responsible for decades of cars that possessed beauty above all else – often at the expense of bodywork that could resist a layer of morning dew – had offered a car that offered everything but beauty. Renault Scenic sales soared, Vauxhall launched the deliberately conservative Zafira (with one more seat than the Multipla and engineering by Porsche) and suddenly Fiat’s space oddity was just too wacky to stand a chance.

Still, you can’t fault Fiat for trying to drag our attention back to what made the Multipla good enough to be crowned Top Gear Car of the Year, among countless other awards. Such as in this press shot above, where its innovative seating plan is demonstrated by a six-strong family sitting in the seats, sans bodywork (‘the best looking Multipla ever!’ we hear you guffaw).

And we’d almost be fooled they’re happy, if it wasn’t for the steely gaze of Unimpressed Boy in Flat Cap. Sure, he’s won the golden ticket to sit up front, but he’s jammed between his parents wishing they’d bought a regular-looking five-seat car and left him at home with his Dreamcast.

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