Fiat Auto SpA will take the wraps off its Trepiuno microcar concept at the Geneva auto show next month.

The Trepiuno’s interior design focuses on maximizing space via reconfigurability while maintaining an overall length of just 10.8 ft. (3.3 m).

The Trepiuno’s re-configurable interior can accommodate up to four passengers. The front passenger seat can be moved forward to the point that it is almost swallowed up by the instrument panel, providing more leg room for rear passengers.

Fiat will debut its Trepiuno concept car at the Geneva Motor Show next month.

The Trepiuno’s re-configurable interior can accommodate up to four passengers. The front passenger seat can be moved forward to the point that it is almost swallowed up by the instrument panel, providing more leg room for rear passengers.

Fiat engineers worked closely with Johnson Controls Inc. to develop the seating package, which enables the rear seat backrests to fold forward, extending the load compartment.

The interior also features an innovative instrument panel that includes two drawers for storage.

Controls on the center console are housed under a film. The driver or front passenger only has to brush a finger against the controls to activate the various heating, ventilation and air conditioning and audio controls. Innovative uses of light-emitting diodes illuminate the cabin during night driving.

The exterior of the Trepiuno features unique styling, thanks to its short hood and minimal wheel overhangs. The hood was designed to wrap into the front quarter panels, while the front grille and headlamps round out the innovative shape. The Trepiuno also features a foldable canvas sunroof that provides a feel of open-air driving.

The Trepiuno is seen by some as a long-awaited revival of the much loved Fiat Nuova (New) 500 that was launched in 1957, lived for 18-years and sold more than 4 million units. But the official line for Geneva is that the Trepiuno probably won’t be made.

However, internal support for the project is strong and many believe that once the public sees the concept car, demand will be so intense Turin will be forced to make it – but not before 2007.

Stung by the success of the Smart 2-seater in Italy, its biggest market, Fiat has been looking at a variety of potential baby cars – including a 1+2, whose seating package mirrors that of the McLaren F1. But so far the auto maker has gone public only with the Trepiuno.

Styled by Roberto Giolito, the head of Fiat’s advanced studio and the same talented designer who penned the Multipla and Ecobasic, Trepiuno stretches a mere 129.6 ins. (3.3 m). Fiat says it’s not built over any particular mechanical package – sources say it could be based on the new Panda or even a cut down version of the Punto – but admits the design lends itself to a transverse mounted, front engine, driving the front wheels.

Fiat’s small car program currently is based around the new Panda and its many variants including the 4x4 and cross/utility, both launched in Geneva. However, sales of the Seicento remain so strong on the domestic market that plans to release a short wheelbase, 2-door, version of the Panda have been postponed until next year.

kekelly@primediabusiness.com