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First look: Fiat’s Commodore hunter

Big Fiat: Croma has the size and transmission to be viable in Australia.

New Croma completes product puzzle for Fiat’s potential Australian return

4 Feb 2005

AUSTRALIAN Fiat importer Ateco Automotive has confirmed the new Croma is the final piece of a product puzzle that could headline the Italian brand’s return to Australia after more than a decade.

Fiat HQ released pictures of the all-new Croma globally last week prior to its Geneva motor show debut in March.

First details reveal it has the credentials to be a viable model in Australia.

Large enough to compete with Australia’s most popular homegrown wagons and available with an automatic transmission, Croma succeeds on paper where other Fiats have failed. It’s also the first Fiat to be developed from a General Motors platform (Signum), which has been codenamed Fiat Large.

Croma will be available in Europe with two petrol and three turbo-diesel engines, with the largest of them most likely to be made available here: a 112kW 2.2-litre petrol and 160kW 2.4-litre turbo-diesel.

Right-hand drive production of Croma begins in mid-2006, making late next year the earliest opportunity for Ateco to reintroduce the Fiat brand here – with a line-up that would also include Abarth-badged performance versions of the current Stilo and the new Punto, which is likely to surface at Frankfurt this year.

36 center image But Fiat’s final hurdle here remains exchange rates. Ateco, which has a significant commercial vehicle market presence with Fiat, says it needs the Australian dollar to be worth at least 65 Euro cents to ensure a profit margin substantial enough to fund Fiat’s relaunch budget. At the moment the Aussie dollar remains below 59 Euro cents.

"We want to see Fiat passenger cars return to Australia – but only if it’s a long-term proposition, to provide stability for our customers, our dealers and us," Ateco spokesman Edward Rowe told GoAuto.

"We’ve always said that if we have the right vehicles and the currency rates are right, Fiat would come." Mr Rowe said Fiat, if it returned to Australia, would offer unique new vehicles to differentiate itself from the Alfa Romeo brand Ateco also holds the distribution rights to.

"We would cherry-pick the Fiat range, if you like, to offer Australians something different to what they already have," he said.

He said the recent announcement that discussions between Fiat and GM were continuing had no bearing on the future of Fiat in Australia.

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