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Fiat Grande Punto just five months away!

Italian: Grande Punto will be positioned below sister brand Alfa's 147.

Finally, Fiat passenger cars will return to Oz in June - with the new Grande Punto

13 Jan 2006

FIAT passenger cars will make their long-awaited return to the Australian marketplace in June following an agonizing wait for new models and for the Aussie dollar to strengthen against the Euro.

As reported previously, the recently launched Fiat Grande Punto will be first cab off the Fiat car rank in Australia, following the all-new small car’s local debut at the Melbourne motor show next month.

Fiat passenger cars will be available in Australia for the first time in 15 years, joining Ateco Automotive’s Fiat commercial vehicle range on sale. Ateco has had considerable success with its Ducato van range since its release in 2000, following the importer’s reintroduction of the Fiat-owned Alfa Romeo marque in 1998.

"We have always made it clear that we had to have the right product at the right retail price," said newly appointed general manager for Fiat cars in Australia David Stone as part of yesterday’s announcement.

"We have now reached that point. The Grande Punto is an outstanding new car, it has pricing that will make it highly competitive and, as a newly launched model, it has a full production life ahead of it over which we can re-coup launch and set-up costs." Ateco says dealers will be appointed specifically as Fiat car retailer and will be expected to eventually set up a separate operation over time, but it’s expected that the majority of Australia's 17 Alfa Romeo dealers will also represent Fiat.

For starters, the Fiat passenger car line-up will consist only of the Grande Punto model range – including a diesel variant – and Ateco says its will add new models following their rollout globally, as it did with Alfa Romeo.

Full pricing and specifications won’t be revealed until closer to launch, but Ateco says the Grande Punto’s sticker prices and equipment levels will be highly competitive with its direct rivals.

"As well as making it clear that we would hold off a Fiat launch until we had the right product and pricing, we have also said that we want this to be a long term return," said Mr Stone. "That means it must be a successful and profitable business for both ourselves and the dealers. Fiat owners have to know that we are here with Fiat for the long term and their cars will be supported for their full lives.

"This means Grande Punto will be priced and equipped to succeed in Australia, not just trading on its name and Italian heritage of style and performance. That said, the versions we plan to bring to Australia in June will be both special and unique, offering levels of style and performance simply not seen in this market sector," he said.

Ateco says Grande Punto will sit at the premium or prestige end of the small car sector alongside European and Japanese rivals.

Though its overall dimensions and engine capacities will be at the lower end of the segment, the importer says the new Punto is ideally positioned for the shift to small cars seen in Australia over the past 18 months.

Grande Punto will be positioned below sister brand Alfa’s 147 hatch in both price and specification, though Ateco admits both cars will share a similar customer profile – young and equally split between male and female.

Punto is the latest in a long line of popular small hatches from the Italian maker, which began with the original Fiat 500, launched in 1936 as the world's smallest mass production car and nick-named Topolino, or Mickey Mouse.

Developed by Italdesign, Giugiaro and the Fiat Style Centre, Grande Punto is 4030mm long, 1680mm wide, 1490mm high and has a wheelbase of 2510mm.

In overseas markets, the range includes two petrol engines (a 48kW 1.2-litre eight-valve four and a new 57kW 1.4-litre eight-valve four), and four turbo-diesels - the 90kW and 96kW 1.9-litre Multijet, the 55kW 1.3-litre Multijet 16-valve and the new 66kW 1.3-litre Multijet 16-valve with a variable geometry turbo.

Three specification levels are offered in Eruope (Dynamic, Emotion and Sport), while for global markets there are a total of 19 versions of the Grande Punto, comprising three and five-door bodystyles, four trim and equipment levels, six engines, 13 body colours and 12 types of interior trim.

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