Looks like Fiat Auto South Africa is reloading a salvo set to be fired upon a depressed market. Hopefully the load is not just fireworks but actually helps lift the spirits. Glancing through the plans I can already see one or three potential firecrackers which, if the market is as bad as they say, should do quite well.
The company’s two auto brands, Fiat and Alfa Romeo will give us a lot to smile about. Let’s see what’s in the pot.
The Panda range will receive a facelift in the form of a new front grille, headlights, side mirrors, wheels, exterior colours and interior trim. A new 1.2-litre engine with Fiat’s Duologic auto gearbox (MTA) appears. I suppose it’s a step up from the old 1.1-litre but personally I would have liked to see the 1.4-litre instead. Ah well. Expect to see it around February or March at the latest.
A new range-topping Punto Evo range arrives sometime around May or June. Power should come from the highly innovative 1.4 Multiair and a 1.4 Turbo (very good potential here).
By relaunching the sexy 500 between March and April Fiat essentially admits something went amiss with the initial Cinquecento introduction. I guess the market wasn’t really listening. Nevertheless this is to be fixed with a second attempt which (hopefully) comes with lower pricing. This little number has everything going for it except the price and the engine. Again, that 1.4 Turbo is just what the doctor wants but sadly the 100kW Abarth model won’t make it in 2010. Then the roofless 500 C (cabriolet) comes into the scene. For those who live in traffic-infested Johannesburg a Duologic automatic transmission will also become available.
Across the yard Alfa Romeo is also preparing a few special treats for its growing fanbase as a celebration of 100 years of existence. The baby MiTo also acquires its own Multiair turbo engine with a basic 100kW and a 125kW model that could be badged a Quadrofoglio Verde. Should be landing during the second quarter.
One of Alfa’s proudest names Giulietta, is resurrected as an Audi A3 competitor. The Alfa Giulietta will come with two models, the same 1.4 Multiair Turbo worth 125kW and a 1.8 Turbo Multiair kicking out a funked-up 170kW. It won’t come later than October.
Lastly the marque is still considering whether to offer the 149kW 1750 TBi engine on its Brera and Spider cars. I say go for it, take on the mid-range German turbos!