TodaySeptember 21, 2021

Fiat’s designer, Fabrizzio Vacca, on the Fiat 500L

Baltimore, MD – “The Fiat 500 is known as Mammone in Italy, a Momma’s boy,” Fabrizio Vacca, one of Fiat’s senior interior designers from Centro Stile in Turin who worked on the 500L’s interior said, at the same time he started backtracking, realizing he was talking to an American who might have thought he was referring to a mollycoddled little child, “not a real Momma, just because the car is cute and small.” Yes, we got it, it’s a term of endearment.

If you put the 500L next to the 500 you will see that the 500L is much larger, 2 feet longer, than the 500, but that’s just the outside. This new Cinquecento is an L, for l-iving l-arge. Vacca likens the 500L to a house, “L means Loft, a car to be L-ived in. Jason Stoicevich, Head of FIAT Brand North America – Chrysler Group LLC, says the interior of the Fiat 500L is the same size as the Chrysler 300.

To Vacca, it was important to keep the Italian interior design, the European mystique, the same on the American 500L, “except anything we had to do to meet regulations and, of course, cupholders. Americans love their cupholders.”

Vacca says the 500L was inspired by the Villa Savoye, a modernist house Vacca describes as “layered” that is located in Poissy, France. The house, according to Wikipedia, was designed in the 1930s by the Swiss architect Le Corbusier and his cousin, Pierre Jeanneret.

Vacca says he incorporated the layered design of the house into the car, “a free flow base, a windowed layer that provided illumination and ventilation, and a functional roof. Illumination is a very important feature when designing an interior environment.” There is even a L-oft edition with an open sunroof called the Patio with a panoramic view.

The 500L A-pillar is ingenious. Vacca is right, illumination is the key, opening up the A-pillar is a design in functionality and aesthetics. It is the illusion of transparency and I expect this design to be copied by other car designers.

Lou Ann Hammond

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a founding member of the Women's World Car of the Year #WWCOTY, and board member of the Women in Automotive.