The watchword is 'reduce' - as in footprint, noise and harmful emissions. We are in the mini-car zone (city cars if you like), which looks destined to become a battleground of the future. In fact, some models are already on sale. But, though offering interesting characteristics, their elevated price tags curtail diffusion. "It's a question of production volumes," say the makers.
Obvious, but just as obvious is how these 'minis' are perhaps trying a mite too hard to be 'maxis', and focus more on luxury. Analysing the scenario, Maggiora decided to make a different proposal, availing itself of the contribution of stylist Aldo Garnero. The outcome was CityMagg, namely a multi-function compact vehicle study, inspired by the criteria of logical use at minimal cost. "With CityMagg," says Aldo Garnero, "we didn't want to ape traditional cars, but to propose a dedicated vehicle that was able to guarantee a good cost-to-benefits ratio.
So we aimed for a retail price of around 10 million lire." An impressive result.
Based, what's more, on simple concepts: an ultra-compact but 'liveable' package, just 2.68 long, 1.50 wide and 1.65 tall; a loadbearing trellis frame made of steel or aluminium; Fiat Seicento derived suspension; plastic bodywork with modular panels; a versatile interior; different engine types suited to various uses: the '1000' from the Fiat Seicento, its methane-powered variant and a 48-180 Ah electric unit.
"For that one," explains Garnero, "we developed a 'refill' battery-pack replacement system, with the exhausted pack sliding out on one side and the fully charged one slotting in on the other."
And to give an example of the possibilities offered by the project, the CityMagg prototype was completed in two variants: the four-seat 'Droll' for town and leisure use; and the 'Job' for specialised use, with the area behind the front seats fully customisable. There was no style research in the traditional sense," says Garnero, "but the exploration of some of the possibilities offered by an especially modular package".
A fair dose of friendliness can, however, be discerned in CityMagg as well as a pleasing alternation of curved and straight lines. Notable elements are the very low engine cover and the pronounced crease with which it joins the windscreen support, which generates a levitational effect around the cabin zone. The lofty, protected position of lighting units and indicators is useful. The cabin uses the Seicento dashboard and provides an agreeable ambience. "We managed," says Garnero, "to mate minimalism with a cool atmosphere, even using low-cost, easy-to-clean materials: an important detail for fleet or hire use."
The same practical philosophy determined the choice of plastic panelling for the bodywork: cheap, durable and easily cleaned, it can also be removed and replaced almost as easily as Lego. And with the right 'pieces', CityMagg can be transformed: the people carrier can become pickup, roadster, beach buggy, or panel van.
Source: www.sae.org; "Trasformable city" by Alberto Calliano, Auto & Design n. 110 - 1998