Fiat 500X launch

The Fiat 500X launches in Australia tomorrow and the company threw a celebratory lunch in true Italian fashion to welcome the new arrival.

Party guests gathered at a private hilltop estate overlooking Sydney's Palm Beach for a culinary tour through Italy courtesy of Osteria Balla's Stefano Manfredi.

But before bread was broken and glasses were raised, guests christened the new wheels by taking them on a scenic journey through national parks and along the winding Amalfi-ish coastal roads of Sydney's northern beaches.

"It's all about la dolce vita," says Fiat's product manager, Aitezaz Khan, "and the 500X is to Fiat what No. 5 is to Chanel - it's the grammar of the style."

The new design pairs premium styling features including Beats by Dre audio and a sporty flat-bottom steering wheel with performance enhancements such as blind-spot monitoring and forward-collision warning.

"It's both blue jeans and red leather," says Olivier François, chief marketing officer and head of brand for Fiat, who flew from Paris to host the event. "We've taken the DNA of the Fiat 500 series and amplified it with X-factors."

At lunch, guests were welcomed by a table laden with Aperol Spritzes, rosemary, peonies and vines. Chef Manfredi's family-style menu started with shared plates of Calabrian "cannoli" with eggplant and ricotta, Basilicata-style umido with braised oyster mushrooms, an Abruzzese dish of farro with wild greens, and Campanian arancini with peperonata.

"I wanted the menu to resemble a road trip through Italy that I did in a Fiat 500 a couple of years ago," says Manfredi.

A turnip and lentil salad with a hazelnut sauce from Turin, Fiat's birthplace, came next and other regional specialities - such as Sicilian prawns with Savoy cabbage and salsa salmoriglio - followed.

Darren Purchese from Melbourne pâtisserie Burch & Purchese provided the sweets : lemon and raspberry tartlets, salted-caramel chocolate bricks, mint chocolate tubes and caramel pops.

"Some of the desserts were brought up from Melbourne in a 500X," says Purchese. "They've never travelled so well."


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