If you order a Fiat 500 over the border before its mainland launch on September 15, you might be offered a limited-edition First Edition, with Chinese characteristics.
The Italian marque is offering mainland early-bird purchasers of the 190,000 yuan (HK$230,000) Fiat 500 the chance to enter a draw, entitling them to replace the car they order with a Fiat 500 First Edition. Made exclusively for the Chinese market, the First Edition of only 100 units will be embellished by the creative graphics of five young Chinese designers in Shanghai.
'The start of the pre-order phase is a fundamental stage for the 500 launch in China and will mark an important step forward in the joint project of Fiat and Guangzhou Automobile Group [GAC],' says Lorenzo Sistino, Fiat Group Automobiles executive vice-president of international operations. 'The objective of the 500 is to position our brand in this market because it is the model that best expresses the values of Fiat.'
Based on the 500 Lounge, the First Edition is pearlescent white, with a red leather interior and a special badge on the door pillar.
Powered by the 1.4-litre MultiAir petrol engine, that won the International Engine of the Year award in June, the runabout has a six-speed automatic gearbox and the promise of 101 horsepower and 133Nm of torque at 4000rpm. The model also has the marque's Blue&Me hands-free communication system and seven airbags as standard.
The limited-edition Fiat's body graphics are strategically Chinese, Sistino says.
'We asked five young Chinese artists to interpret the relationship between our two countries in a creative manner for the launch.'
The five designers are Leilei, an avant-garde artist who uses elements from national popular culture in his work, and Mee Wong, an illustrator and teacher at the Guangzhou Art Institute, whose favourite creative element is the panda, which symbolises Chinese culture.
Benny Luk combines graphics and web design, while Nod Young and Yan Wei illustrate the cars with traditional Chinese patterns.
The 500 will have many more versions and special series, Sistino adds.
'Next year, we will be launching the 500C convertible and the exclusive '500byGucci' special series,' he says. 'The Fiat 500 is Fiat's first important step in this market - by the end of next year, we will have launched a new saloon made entirely in China at the plant in Changsha with our partner GAC.'