The New Fiat Multipla - Easy To Drive | Part Five

New Fiat Multipla

Fiat Multipla

Extremely easy to drive

Give drivers the sensation of being at the wheel not of an MPV but of a car that is much more compact, agile and nippy: this was the brief handed down to the engineers when they developed the Multipla and its suspension. This is why all the car's handling and comfort specifications have been passed down to the new model. The result is a car that makes a virtue out of its ease of driving. When cornering, for example, the New Multipla understeers slightly and its trajectory closes in slightly on emerging from the bend. This means that your car always does exactly what you expect. It is predictable in its responses and thus easy to control in every situation.

The steering is direct: the ratio between rack travel and steering column rotation is 51 mm/revolution to allow fast, safe control of the car. Over fast mixed routes, it also means you can drive without moving your hands on the steering wheel while on the motorway you can also change lane quickly with economic turns of the wheel.

When it enters a bend, the New Multipla responds promptly and follows its trajectory without deviation. It always remains flat and gives the driver the sensation of great directionality: the roll angle is very low and similar to that of a sports car. The New Multipla can also be realigned with instinctive movements of the steering wheel. In tests where the steering is subject to impact at 60 degrees with the car travelling at 100 km/h, the steering wheel hardly swings from side to side: this means that the vehicle tends to resume the correct position when left to its own devices.

The classic independent configuration with MacPherson struts at the front and tie rods at the rear ensures an outstanding reaction to minor roughness in the ground and a smooth response when settling down on corners. The springs and all other suspension components have been designed to minimise friction and noise and assure superlative comfort under all load conditions. Engine performance is outstanding during acceleration and also at top speed. The New Multipla complements these attributes with truly exceptional flexibility and smoothness of driving. Ease of driving, however, also means good visibility, handling during parking and on-board instruments that are convenient to use. The new model slips with great agility through town traffic. Some of the credit for this goes to its generous side windows, high seating position and a very low waistline that ensures exceptional visibility.

The driver's rear view mirror is also split to eliminate the dangerous blind spot, while the passenger door mirror (also split) comes with its lower part directed towards the right rear wheel to give an exact perception of space during parking manoeuvres. Both are equipped with electrical adjustments and may be folded flat (electrically if required) to reduce vehicle width and negotiate tight corners (e.g. when entering a garage).

All manoeuvres are also aided by the compact size of the car, the small turning circle (5.5 metres) and a precise, light power steering system. Reversing is aided by a proximity sensor that indicates the distance from obstacles behind the car.

Published 12 June 2004 Melanie Carter

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