Rate It: One of the First Cars Styled by Chris Bangle, the Fiat Coupé

Chris Bangle may be best known for his work at BMW (for better or for worse), but before his tenure there, he was working over at Fiat. During his time there, he served as chief designer for a uniquely styled front-wheel-drive coupe.

That car, known as the Fiat Coupé, was notable for the angular exterior design that Bangle penned, and even featured an interior styled by Pininfaria. More than 72,000 examples would be built over its 1993-2000 life span.

A number of engines were available, the most powerful being a turbocharged, 2.0-liter inline-five rated for 217 horsepower and 229 lb.-ft. of torque. That meant the front-wheel-drive coupe could hit 60 mph in around six seconds and reach a top speed of 155 mph when equipped with the six-speed manual.

A few Limited Editions could also be had, adding features like an exclusive body kit, red front brake calipers, Recaro Seats and Sparco pedals.

Based on the numbers, is the Fiat Coupé prime for importing now that it’s 25 years old, or does the exterior touched by Chris Bangle not do it for you?

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Comments
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Vigo (Forum Supporter)
Vigo (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
10/26/20 10:51 a.m.

Honestly, im a fan. I love the interior, too. I still prefer the Alfa built on the same platform (or a contemporary Mitsubishi FTO), but i wouldn't kick one of these out of my driveway. 

Semi-related? E60 BMW taillights are some of my favorite taillights in history.  These ones here are...not. 

nderwater
nderwater UltimaDork
10/26/20 11:21 a.m.

I once saw one of those in Monaco and was completely baffled as to what it was.  The styling is a thumbs down for me.

mr2s2000elise
mr2s2000elise UltraDork
10/26/20 11:24 a.m.

Disgusting

Dave M (Forum Supporter)
Dave M (Forum Supporter) Dork
10/26/20 11:47 a.m.

Fugly. Looks like a mangled EV-1. 

 

The interior looks nice though.

mad_machine (Forum Supporter)
mad_machine (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
10/26/20 11:57 a.m.

wow, you really chose some nasty pics that make a sleek and stylish car look awful.

 

 

The biggest issue with the fiat coupe' was the 5 cylinder turbo.. Yes, it was the most powerful of the breed, you needed to pull the engine to do the cambelt.  There was just no room between the front of the engine and the side of the car to do the work.  the 16v engine (same as the Lancia Delta and based off of the beloved Fiat twincam) was much easier to work on, lighter, and could be tweaked to supply the same power.

1988RedT2
1988RedT2 MegaDork
10/26/20 12:05 p.m.

Oh, good grief!  All the warning signs were there, and still BMW made the horrible mistake of hiring the man.  What were they thinking?

STM317
STM317 UberDork
10/26/20 12:08 p.m.
mad_machine (Forum Supporter) said:

wow, you really chose some nasty pics that make a sleek and stylish car look awful.

 

 

 

All I see is a goofy Sunfire

slowbird
slowbird SuperDork
10/26/20 12:29 p.m.

I liked it in Gran Turismo 2. Looks better than most of the BMWs he's known for.

Duke
Duke MegaDork
10/26/20 12:32 p.m.

The yellow one mad_machine posted sure looks better than the blue ones up top.

But it still suffers heavily from Bangleism:  a layer of weird, fussy detailing failing to hide fundamentally bad proportions.

 

Toyman01 (Moderately Supportive Dude)
Toyman01 (Moderately Supportive Dude) MegaDork
10/26/20 12:34 p.m.

Yuck. Luckily it looks like a car you wouldn't mind breaking down. 

 

randman2011
randman2011 New Reader
10/26/20 2:10 p.m.
Duke said:

The yellow one mad_machine posted sure looks better than the blue ones up top.

But it still suffers heavily from Bangleism:  a layer of weird, fussy detailing failing to hide fundamentally bad proportions.

That's it. I could never put my finger on what is so unfortunate about the Coupe styling. Highlighting that it was the work of Chris Bangle makes so much sense, and you're right. The proportions, front and rear, are just bizarre.

And also it feels like the entire back end was phoned in.

dean1484
dean1484 MegaDork
10/26/20 2:22 p.m.

My first thought was it looks like an EV1. 

pointofdeparture
pointofdeparture UltimaDork
10/26/20 2:31 p.m.

I'm a big fan, but do think it wears some colors and angles better than others.

I do agree that the contemporary Alfa GTV would be my pick though.

buzzboy
buzzboy Dork
10/26/20 2:33 p.m.

For some reason my mind went to Saturn SC2 but I can't articulate why. Those taillights are something.

Duke
Duke MegaDork
10/26/20 2:35 p.m.
randman2011 said:
Duke said:

The yellow one mad_machine posted sure looks better than the blue ones up top.

But it still suffers heavily from Bangleism:  a layer of weird, fussy detailing failing to hide fundamentally bad proportions.

That's it. I could never put my finger on what is so unfortunate about the Coupe styling. Highlighting that it was the work of Chris Bangle makes so much sense, and you're right. The proportions, front and rear, are just bizarre.

That's exactly what plagued all the Bangle-era BMW sedans (the Z4 wasn't bad):  The fundamental proportioning was just lumpy and misshapen.  All the "flame surfacing" and "zeppelin ribs" and "Bangle butt" and other weird pig-lipstick he applied just couldn't hide those baked-in flaws.

 

Peabody
Peabody UltimaDork
10/26/20 2:42 p.m.

Reminds me of a bad kit car from the 80's

Shaun
Shaun Dork
10/26/20 3:04 p.m.

Lower it a couple inches and I really like it.  It is my favorite car of his!  Which is saying very little.

Bangle took over at a difficult time for the lead design role as the preceding BMWs were very good looking and had distinct connections to their respective 'series' linage.  There was not anywhere obvious to go with an incremental approach so he blew it up.   I get that decision and he succeeded wildly- but very few attractive individual BMWs have emerged and I do not see a cohesive language coming together.  He has been gone 10 years and Adrian Hooydonk has not managed to herd the smattering of approaches into anything palatable unless  'Vaguely Brutish' is ones cup of tea.

BlueInGreen - Jon (Forum Supporter)
BlueInGreen - Jon (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
10/26/20 3:29 p.m.

Clarkson told us it would be a good police car, so it’s got that going for it cheeky

Streetwiseguy
Streetwiseguy MegaDork
10/26/20 3:43 p.m.

You guys keep posting the same car in different colours, from different angles, saying it looks better.  You are not helping your side of the argument.

All the colour in the world won't hide that wheel well and the body line running through it.

Kreb (Forum Supporter)
Kreb (Forum Supporter) UberDork
10/26/20 4:02 p.m.

The interior, yes. The exterior, no. That said, I feel that Bangle rescued BMW from a pretty boring design language,  and for the most part I'm a fan.

TurnerX19
TurnerX19 SuperDork
10/26/20 4:10 p.m.

The wheel arches are hideous, and it has the face of a Daimler SP250, formerly the worlds ugliest car. The tail would be OK on an econobox though.

einy (Forum Supporter)
einy (Forum Supporter) Dork
10/26/20 4:15 p.m.

Yuck.  That's all I have to say on that question.

Antihero (Forum Supporter)
Antihero (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
10/26/20 4:18 p.m.
slowbird said:

I liked it in Gran Turismo 2. Looks better than most of the BMWs he's known for.

Came in here to say that. I thought it looked great on the game but less so in reality really

mad_machine (Forum Supporter)
mad_machine (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
10/26/20 6:10 p.m.
Duke said:
randman2011 said:
Duke said:

The yellow one mad_machine posted sure looks better than the blue ones up top.

But it still suffers heavily from Bangleism:  a layer of weird, fussy detailing failing to hide fundamentally bad proportions.

That's it. I could never put my finger on what is so unfortunate about the Coupe styling. Highlighting that it was the work of Chris Bangle makes so much sense, and you're right. The proportions, front and rear, are just bizarre.

That's exactly what plagued all the Bangle-era BMW sedans (the Z4 wasn't bad):  The fundamental proportioning was just lumpy and misshapen.  All the "flame surfacing" and "zeppelin ribs" and "Bangle butt" and other weird pig-lipstick he applied just couldn't hide those baked-in flaws.

 

flaws yes, but that was typical for a front driver from that era.  I do think maybe the trunk was a bit too truncated, but I prefer the looks of the front.

nderwater
nderwater UltimaDork
10/26/20 6:12 p.m.
Streetwiseguy said:

You guys keep posting the same car in different colours, from different angles, saying it looks better.  You are not helping your side of the argument.

All the colour in the world won't hide that wheel well and the body line running through it.

This exactly.  Look at the profile --  it's as if the designer said "Man, I really need to add some excitement here" so he just cut some slashes across the wheel wells on the clay model then said, "Done!" 

 

tb (minimally supportive)
tb (minimally supportive) Dork
10/26/20 6:46 p.m.

I rather like it, but I tend to have much better taste than most people...

Gearheadotaku (Forum Supporter)
Gearheadotaku (Forum Supporter) UltimaDork
10/26/20 7:44 p.m.

I look at the yellow one and I like it. The others not so much. The right wheels seem to help.

NickD
NickD UltimaDork
10/26/20 7:54 p.m.

I really like Bangle-era BMW. I do not like this.

Kreb (Forum Supporter)
Kreb (Forum Supporter) UberDork
10/26/20 8:48 p.m.

What's interesting is that not long after this car, Bangle got the job at BMW. So what about this car made the stodgy Germans want to put their eggs in his basket?

superfund
superfund New Reader
10/26/20 8:56 p.m.

I had to look it up but somehow he didn't also design the BMW Z1 with how similar the front looks. 

pointofdeparture
pointofdeparture UltimaDork
10/26/20 9:24 p.m.

One interesting thing I just realized is that there's actually some subtle nods to the Fiat 128 coupe in the design. The kamm tail, rear quarter, C-pillar and rear window line struck me in particular.

Vigo (Forum Supporter)
Vigo (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
10/26/20 10:50 p.m.

That's a lot more than a little! Glad you posted because while i enjoy drawing those kinds of connections, I didn't even know what a Fiat 128 looked like. yes

Kreb (Forum Supporter)
Kreb (Forum Supporter) UberDork
10/26/20 11:00 p.m.

One of the great things about the Italian auto industry is their willingness to take chances in the styling department. 

TurnerX19
TurnerX19 SuperDork
10/27/20 7:14 a.m.

In reply to pointofdeparture :

Yeah, he took a 128 SL coupe and blasted it with the ugly stick. The 128 SL is a little to "industrial" but still very attractive.

Tyler H (Forum Supporter)
Tyler H (Forum Supporter) UberDork
10/27/20 7:32 a.m.

Hmm...how much front rake do you have to put in to get those fender accents level?  

 

mad_machine (Forum Supporter)
mad_machine (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
10/27/20 9:32 a.m.
STM317 said:
mad_machine (Forum Supporter) said:

wow, you really chose some nasty pics that make a sleek and stylish car look awful.

 

 

 

All I see is a goofy Sunfire

that's tough,  I always thought the sunfire was  pretty goofy looking car  to begin with.  It also predates the Sunfire by a couple of years.  I wonder who was copying who?

 

Yes, the resemblence to the original 128 is in the coupe'.  For those that thought the taillights didn't work,  it's because he cribbed from the 128 3P for them.

 

 

1988RedT2
1988RedT2 MegaDork
10/27/20 10:58 a.m.

I can only imagine that marijuana has been legalized where many of you live.  cheeky

93EXCivic
93EXCivic MegaDork
10/27/20 11:22 a.m.

Given current BMW styling, I long for the looks of Bangle BMWs...

mtn (Forum Supporter)
mtn (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
10/27/20 11:33 a.m.

I could probably learn to love it if I saw it on the streets everyday, but as is, I'll give it an inoffesnive "meh".

 

I also would like to see it in person. If there was ever a car that looked much better in person than it did in pictures, it was the Bangle-Butt 7 series. 

wspohn
wspohn Dork
10/27/20 11:33 a.m.

That one isn't my cuppa tea. Should have called it the 'Desh'  (get it? The Bangle Desh....oh never mind.)

I like what he did on the BMWs though despite creating a lot of controversy at the time.

NickD
NickD UltimaDork
10/27/20 12:48 p.m.
Kreb (Forum Supporter) said:

One of the great things about the Italian auto industry is their willingness to take chances in the styling department. 

 

Mmmm, I love that thing.

ebelements
ebelements Reader
10/27/20 1:13 p.m.

I'm a huge fan of these, but then again anything weird & wedgey is my jam.

mad_machine (Forum Supporter)
mad_machine (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
10/27/20 6:57 p.m.
Kreb (Forum Supporter) said:

One of the great things about the Italian auto industry is their willingness to take chances in the styling department. 

Ever seen the Lancia Hyena Zagato?

 

newold_m (Forum Supporter)
newold_m (Forum Supporter) New Reader
10/28/20 1:00 a.m.

Having seen one in person many eye around ago I must say it's really not that bad looking. Quirky and different for sure. Plus that 2 liter engine was a sweet sounding one. 

LanEvo
LanEvo Dork
10/28/20 7:33 a.m.

They look (a little) better in real life.

Also, those FIAT 5-cylinders sound awesome. My buddy had the 20v normally aspirated version in his Bravo HGT. Not a lot of power, but great intake growl.

mad_machine (Forum Supporter)
mad_machine (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
11/15/20 10:31 p.m.

found an interesting video on the coupe.  I had no idea it was an almost 160mph car.

 

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