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Specs of Fiat, Alfa range-pluggers revealed

Taking a Punto: The name of Fiat’s light car is Italian for point, and it will be pitched at the sharp end of the segment when it returns to Australia later this year.

Details emerge of Fiat Punto light car comeback, extended 500, Alfa Giulietta ranges

29 Apr 2013

ITALIAN car fans will soon be spoilt for choice as details emerge of the reintroduced Fiat Punto, and broader, more affordable Alfa Romeo Giulietta and Fiat 500 ranges.

Due to return to Australia around September or October after more than three years in the wilderness, the Punto light car will re-enter showrooms here with three- and five-door body styles.

A 57kW 1.4-litre petrol engine with fuel saving stop-start technology is likely to be offered with a choice of five-speed manual or Dualogic robotised manual transmission.

As the Punto is an ageing model, keen pricing is expected to help it compete against accomplished competition such as the Toyota Yaris (from $14,990 plus on-roads), Kia Rio (from $15,290) and Ford Fiesta (from $15,490).

Fiat Chrysler Asia Pacific corporate affairs director Karla Leach would not be drawn on potential price points but said the company’s strategy was “ about giving people the product at the price that is really going to work”.

Wheels will range from 15-inch steel rims, with up to 17-inch alloy rims available among options that are likely to include front fog lights and a sunroof.

The hot Punto Abarth Evo Supersport is scheduled to hit showrooms by the end of this year.

With Volkswagen having thrown down the gauntlet in the small-car segment with boosted power and equipment at a sharp $21,490 entry level price, Alfa Romeo is set to respond with a revised Giulietta range described by Ms Leach as “definitely in the ballpark.” Due to arrive mid-year, the new base-model Giulietta will use a 88kW 1.4-litre turbocharged engine with a stop-start function, but GoAuto believes this variant will be manual only.

36 center imageFrom top: Fiat 500, Fiat Panda and Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Front fog lights and 16-inch wheels appear to be among the standard specification list, while Alfa’s three-mode ‘DNA’ system that adjusts the car’s responsiveness and stability control settings looks likely to be an option.

Ms Leach told GoAuto more than one new variant will be added to the Giulietta range, with price points reflecting equipment levels.

“It is about broadening the options for Australian consumers and giving them different price points to have a little piece of Italian luxury for their every day,” she said. “I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.” In February the Giulietta received a $7640 price haircut to $29,350 for the entry-level Distrinctive variant as part of a range-wide price realignment.

Confirmed for an early June launch is an expanded Fiat 500 hatch and 500C convertible range, which will expand beyond the current TwinAir-only engine line-up with two new drivetrains and the promise of attractive entry-level pricing.

New engines include a 74kW 1.4-litre unit and auto-only 51kW 1.2-litre, with 14-inch wheels and daytime running lights standard on all variants.

Front fog lights and a stop-start system appear to be optional, while wheel sizes of up to 16 inches will be available.

Ms Leach said the revised 500 line-up would “expand options and equipment in that range, plus give us some sharp entry pricing”.

The result of this should lower the cost of entry to a Fiat 500 well below the $18,800 asked for the manual TwinAir following a $4190 price cut in February.

Fiat’s Panda city car is also set for release this year, arriving in the fourth quarter, with the 4x4 version coming in early 2014. After that follows the five-door 500L, as well as the Doblo and Fiorino compact vans.

Fiat sales are up 60.4 per cent to the end of March this year, with a 116.5 per cent leap in 500 sales, a doubling of Scudo van volume and a 42 per cent increase in Ducato van throughput.

Alfa Romeo sales are up a third, led by an 80 per cent increase in Giulietta deliveries and a 13.3 per cent spike in MiTo light-car registrations.

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