Fiat's spritely four-seater still cuts a fine figure more than 25 years from launch
By John Howell / Thursday, March 24, 2022 / Loading comments
It’s a Bangle, but not a BMW. Indeed, the Fiat Coupe was one of the last cars styled by Chris Bangle before his infamous move to BMW (I think the very last was the Alfa Romeo 145, but I could be wrong), where he oversaw some designs that, well, let’s just say, have never been wholly accepted. Some have, mind, among which I’d include the E85 Z4 – because it’s a cracking car to look at.
The Fiat Coupe is an odd one. It’s so clearly a Bangle in that it’s different and challenges convention. Does it work for you? Are you one of those people who consider it a modern classic? For me it’s a car that I can love on a Monday and loathe on a Tuesday. And love again on a Wednesday because I’m loving this one today. Front-on still isn’t my preferred viewing angle, but I’m enjoying the side profile – with those slash arches – and the rear three-quarters, with its stubby tail and four round, recessed lights. Very sweet. As is the detail element of the exposed, classic chromed filler cap.
Inside, it doesn’t say Bangle but Pininfarina. And let’s be honest, the latter adds cache where a Bangle doesn’t – Susanna Hoffs aside. That’s because, of course, the inside was the work of the legendary design studio, and while the materials might not be up to the standards of its high-end Ferraris, it manages to be more than the sum of its parts. Sticking in those body-coloured panels was a cost-effective solution, but one that definitely adds value.
Pininfarina competed to design the whole thing, as it happens. It was looking for something to fill the hole left after the demise of its General Motors tie-up to build the Cadillac Allante bodies. So it pitched the idea of a two-plus-two coupe to Fiat and submitted an exterior design proposal along with the interior. After the former was rejected it reputedly went on to become the Peugeot 406 Coupé – although it still manufactured the Fiat Coupe at its plant in Turin.
Famously, the underpinnings were the Type Two platform introduced with the Fiat Tipo in 1988. This also went on to be used for a number of Alfas, including the 145 as well as the GTV and Spider. It was a decent starting point, with MacPherson struts at the front and trailing arms at the rear mounted to a separate subframe. The engine options even started with the 2.0-litre 16-valve turbo from the Lancia Delta Integrale – but this one has the more desirable 2.0-litre 20-valve – a modular design that came as an inline four, or in this case, an inline five. With the addition of a turbocharger it delivered 220hp and 0-62mph in a swift 6.3 seconds, with a limited-slip diff to help regulate the 229lb ft of torque.
The Fiat Coupé went on sale in the UK in 1995 and enjoyed a good reception for its mix of style, power and agility. As time went on there were special editions and added bodywork that spoiled its design, but this car is nicely unsullied. It looks to be a very clean car, too. It’s done nearly 100,000 miles but you wouldn’t believe it scooting through the various pictures, which seem to demonstrate sound paintwork and an interior that’s stood the test of time. Looking at the MOT history, it seems to have done the bulk of its work up to 2017, after which the fewer annual miles indicate it’s been semi-retired. That may be why there were some brake issues, with an imbalance resulting in a failure in 2021. Clearly that’s been rectified, because it got a ticket eventually, which is current until August this year. Summer fun for under £7k, then.
Specification | Fiat Coupé 20v Turbo
Engine: 1,998cc, five-cylinder, turbocharged
Transmission: 6-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 220hp @ 5,750rpm
Torque (lb ft): 229 @ 2,500rpm
Recorded mileage: 99,000
Year registered: 1997
Price new: N/A
Yours for: £6,990
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