Peter York On Ads: The new Fiat Grande Punto is a very nice Italian job, but it'll never match the Mini

You forget about Europe sometimes don't you? Most of us will have visited bits of it recently – Umbria, the Loire, the OK parts of Majorca – but the thumping whole, the nation-states of 'old' Europe and their collective conspiracy in Brussels, you just don't do you? So sometimes it surprises you.

At the time of US sub-prime meltdown, when financial engineering, the great triumphalist machine of the Anglosphere, seems to have gone into reverse, poisoning everything across the world, Europe looks surprisingly solid and attractive. They still make things there. Policy wonks here in the UK had practically forgotten it too. They're obsessed with the idea of the emerging Asian giant – Chindia – and with the unattractive turbulent countries of the Middle East.

So it's nice to be reminded by the new Fiat Grande Punto commercial that life goes on in rough old Turin. And to see the lovely Italian national colours. The red, white and green combo is a good taste classic, but still sharp and lively. In the Punto campaign, three Puntos are painted in these and they look very cheerful in old Italian streets (but have you ever seen a Punto in England?).

It's a tremendously syncopated ad, with lots of driving movements – click, push, turn – made to a clever remix of old Italian-American Louis Prima's 'Oh Marie'. And off those little cars race. I say race – that's when the film's not going back in time to the music in that very mannered 1998 way. So the cars are dancing around – down stone stairs, through shallow water, across what look like station platforms. But at one point we know exactly where they are. They're on that banked rooftop Silverstone-in-the-sky circuit on top of the old Fiat factory in Turin, featured in one of the most famous British TV commercials, late-70s, for CDPs "hand built by robots". For Fiat.

So it's all quite sub-texty enough, then they go and introduce another layer. They call it 'The Italian Job Remixed'. Some mistake here surely. 'The Italian Job' was a British film of 1969 that became central to our view of ourselves and the decade. It's all about small winsome cars that do tricks and drive around impossible places to music.

But those little cars were Minis. Austin or Morris Minis, much later revived successfully as the BMW Mini, a super-mini like the Fiat Grande Punto. Almost every Englishman over 20, and a fair few younger ones, will know all this and more. Some will even feel deeply about it. So it might just be a mistake to hit that nerve in Britain. And nice as it all looks, the Grande Punto design isn't nearly as distinctive as the old or the new Mini – it looks a bit like the Ford Focus.

But Fiat is apparently back from the brink, and the Grande Punto a great success in Europe; so we have to be pleased for them.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Legal Recruitment Consultant

Highly Competitive Salary + Commission: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL BASED - DEALING ...

Digital Project Manager / Web Project Manager

£45-50k (DOE) + Bonus & Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced ...

Account Manager

£30 - 35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Account Manager to join ...

Social Advertising Manager / Social Media Manager

£Excellent + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Social Advertising Manager / Social Med...

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment