Mon ami Italien: French city car spawns new Fiat Topolino

by Antony Ingram
1 June 2023 2 min read
Mon ami Italien: French city car spawns new Fiat Topolino
Photos: Fiat/Stellantis

Japanese brands like Suzuki and Daihatsu have probably taken the lead in recent decades, but historically, nobody does small cars like Fiat.

Now it’s set to add another to the back-catalogue as it reveals the new Fiat Topolino, bringing back a historical name on a vehicle that might look quite familiar to you.

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It is, of course, a rebadged version of Citroën’s Ami electric quadricycle, but unlike the Opel Rocks-E that saw the German arm of the Stellantis group rebadge the French microcar, Fiat has actually made a bit of an effort with its own take.

That much is clear from the Fiat family face, which is to say a reinterpretation of the Nuova 500 from 1957. That famous 500 replaced the original Fiat 500, known as the Topolino – Italian for ‘little mouse’, and the Italian name for a certain famous cartoon mouse too.

The original Topolino was probably more Mickey-like than the latest car, but that hardly matters because Fiat has transformed Citroën’s cute but somewhat stripped-back and technical-looking Ami into something a lot more chic.

Fiat Topolino

Fiat’s gone right ahead and given it a retro paintjob for one, affixed a set of classic-looking wheel trims, and while there’s just a single image right now, it looks like the dashboard has had a stylish makeover too, the striped dash top evoking the parasol-like roof on a Fiat 500 Jolly.

The doors have gone and there’s a Jolly-like rope in their place, though given even Italy isn’t bathed in glorious sunshine every day, we’d expect a production model to at least offer them.

Fiat presumably hasn’t made any changes to the drivetrain, so you’d still be looking at a mere eight horsepower and a top speed of under 30mph – so you’d still be absolutely monstered by owners of the most rickety Nuova 500s anywhere but the very tightest of city streets – but as a device to zip around coastal towns in, it isn’t half appealing.

In fact, while it’s very shallow and perhaps a bit unfair on Citroën who designed the thing in the first place, the Fiat is arguably the more desirable of the pair. Where the French version looks and feels a bit appliance-like, Fiat’s had a go at turning it into a trinket.

Fiat’s hoping it’ll make young people fall in love with cars again. Making a full lineup of affordable, fun-to-drive small cars would be even better for that, but the Topolino’s certainly a start.

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