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2002 Fiat Simba Concept

At the 2002 Bologna Motor Show, Fiat unveiled the Fiat Simba, a prototype mini off-roader that offered a glimpse into the forthcoming Panda/Seicento replacement, codenamed "New Small." Positioned as an all-wheel-drive mini off-road vehicle, the Simba marked Fiat's return to the four-wheel-drive arena and signaled its entry into a new market segment. Designed to excel both in the Savannah and in city traffic, the Simba drew inspiration from the highly successful 1980s Panda 4x4, aiming to establish a modern, youthful, and fun image for Fiat's vital new model.

The Simba prototype, adorned in a striking red and yellow paint scheme, commanded attention at the Fiat display in Bologna. Positioned against an off-road landscape backdrop and beneath a towering banner proclaiming "4x4 concept," the Simba stood as a testament to Fiat's commitment to off-road capability.

Fiat's second-generation diesel engine, the 4-cylinder 16v 1.3JTD, was powering the Simba, which was developed by Powertrain, a joint GM-Fiat parts development program. Boasting a four-wheel-drive system with a viscous coupling, the Simba was compact, measuring 3680 mm long, 1730 mm high, and 1630 mm wide.

Of particular note was the Simba's role as an unofficial preview of the "New Small," slated to replace the aging Seicento and the 22-year-old Panda in the near future. Despite its off-road attire, including built-in fog lamps, powerful headlamps, robust bumpers, roof bars, and a roof-mounted spare wheel, the Simba's design elements hinted at Fiat's new mini car. Its high, flat sides aimed to maximize interior space, while the blanked-off rear quarterlight windows and the placement of the petrol filler cap provided further clues about the upcoming model.

Adding intrigue, the Simba proudly sported an Abarth badge at the base of the A-pillar, hinting at potential performance enhancements or a sportier variant in the lineup. It would be displayed a second time at the 2003 Geneva Motor Show but would never go into production.

Source & Images: Fiat