Tag Archives: Fiat

The Serbian Fiat Countryman

2 Feb

With the release of its Countryman mini-SUV, Mini acknowledged that some people simply need more than two doors (or, in the case of the Mini Clubman, two and a half doors). The Countryman has a distinctive dip at the rear window that looks weird, but somehow works:

I test-drove the Fiat 500 last year, and thought it was a fun little car with a small but capable engine – especially the convertible version with a manual transmission. But the back seat was just not credible. Even for small kids. Same goes for the original Mini Cooper. The Cooper S, with a supercharged engine, is even better, and Fiat is releasing its own Abarth version with a turbocharged engine, regrettable 5-speed, rather than 6-speed, manual transmission, and 160HP and 170 lb/ft of torque. While Mini sells cool Brittania, the Fiat 500 Abarth sells, well, this:

But the Fiat 500 has been a poor seller in the States mostly because it’s too small for anyone with a kid, so Fiat is bringing a new model, the 500L (large), which it will unveil at the Geneva Auto Show:

You’d almost think it was a badge-engineered Countryman, but it isn’t. I don’t dislike it, but a quick scan of the Facebook comments reveal words like “antipatica”, “brutto”, and “non ci piace”, which you don’t have to know Italian to understand.

It would be great if we got the turbo diesel they’ll get in Europe, and it’s notable that this mini-ute will be built in the same factory in Kragujevac, Serbia that brought the world the Zastava “Yugo”. It will offer seating for 5 and 7 in Europe, but only for 5 in the States.

Here’s the press release:

Fiat presented the first official images of the Fiat 500L, the new model which will have its world preview at the 2012 International Geneva Motor Show.

500L – the L stands for ‘Large’ – is the new addition to the 500 range, which, following the Abarth and Cabrio versions, furthers the brand’s strategy, with the aim of extending its offer by introducing models in a position to satisfy different types of customers.

With the ‘L’, the 500 expands and grows together with customers, to accommodate new experiences and needs once more.

With MPV passenger space combined with the feel of a small SUV on the road and the restrained dimensions and efficiency of a B segment car, the new Fiat model defies the conventional distinctions between the various segments, combining the typical characteristics of different categories in order to create a distinctive alternative to the traditional B and C segments.

With the Fiat 500L, the Fiat brand demonstrates its creative spirit once more: a marriage of functionality and emotion, it features a 5-seater single-volume structure which is 414 cm long, 178 cm wide and 166 cm high. It is a further development of the concept of ‘cab forward’ introduced by Fiat with the 600 Multipla, a precursor to the concept of the compact people carrier.

Produced at the Fiat factory in Kragujevac, Serbia, 500L is a ‘first car’ for those who won’t settle for anything less than Italian style, the versatility that comes from a functional design and engine technology that sets the bar in terms of efficiency.

The Fiat 500L will be introduced to Europe in the last quarter of 2012, with an engine range which will initially comprise two petrol engines (TwinAir and 1.4-litre) and a turbodiesel engine (1.3 MultiJet II) and the most advanced, state-of-the-art technology from Fiat Group Automobiles.

The Italian Dodge Dart

6 Dec

UPDATED: I hadn’t seen Jim’s post before I wrote this last night. So, for the most part it’s redundant. But it’s a testament to how exciting this whole Dodge/Alfa Romeo thing really is.

It’s expected that Dodge will revive the long-dead “Dart” nameplate. The first thing I think of is Click & Clack from NPR.

But now that Chrysler is part of Fiat S.p.A. of Torino, Italy, the new Dart is going to be a badge-engineered Alfa Romeo, specifically the Alfa Giulietta, a great-looking Golf-sized hatchback that oozes sportiness and sex appeal.

Drivers can select from a new Tigershark 16-valve 2.0-liter engine, a 16-valve 1.4-liter MultiAir Intercooled Turbo engine, and a new Tigershark 16-valve 2.4-liter MultiAir four cylinder engine. These three engines, combined with three transmission choices, combine to redefine performance by providing the most diverse powertrain lineup in its class.

Dodge sent out this teaser:

But more importantly, here’s the Alfa itself.

And compare that to Dodge’s teased rear-end:

GM & Chrysler Look for $35 bn Combined

17 Feb

I’m not a bank aficionado, so don’t ask me about the bailouts or the Swedish model for nationalization or anything else. I haven’t read the stimulus bill signed into law today, so don’t ask me about that, either.

I do know, however, that GM and Chrysler are in trouble after 3 or 4 decades of making cars and trucks that are/were, for the most part, a bunch of crap. The Dodge Charger I rented in Vegas was nice enough, but it was rough enough around the edges that I’d never consider buying one. The Dodge Caravan I rented in Florida last year was adequate, but seemed to be light-years behind the class-leading Honda Odyssey. GM has gotten better, but not across the board, not for every car.

So, GM needs $30 billion, will eliminate 20,000 jobs by 2012, and will put Saturn to death by 2011 and consider getting rid of Hummer, too.

Chrysler needs $5 billion, and will eliminate a few thousand jobs.

If I was GM, I’d throw out the Saturn name and just import or build Opels, and let the Germans run it. I’d sell Hummer, and I’d re-configure the entire operation to enable it to be quicker to market with new cars, and get plants to be as modern and efficient as those anywhere else in the world. If I was Chrysler, I’d hire some new designers right away and start an entire new line of vehicles across the board. Jeep should have 3 – 4 models, and Chrysler should focus on luxury while Dodge focuses on muscle cars like the Challenger, and mid-range passenger cars. The Fiat deal gives Chrysler access to small, fuel efficient cars, and luxurious stuff like Alfas.

Every SUV should be available with a common-rail diesel engine for economy. Every car should have a diesel or hybrid engine option. GM and Chrysler both need to innovate not just in terms of engine technology, but also with respect to interior design and perceived quality. It doesn’t take much – hell, just copy a new Hyundai and it’d be an improvement over all of what Chrysler shits out and half of what GM bothers to try and sell.

When the car market is in a slide, the most innovative and economical cars are going to do well. GM and Chrysler don’t have too many of those, but Honda is going to sell a $19,000 4-door Insight that gets close to 60 MPG. Honda’s sales may be down, but it doesn’t have its hand out. During the SUV boom, it chose to innovate with the Pilot and Ridgeline while still investing in the Insight and Civic hybrids. Toyota built 4Runners and Highlanders, but it also built Echos, Yarises, and Priuses.

GM? It built Silverados, Cobalts, and a decade’s worth of awful Trailblazers. Chrysler built fugly Sebrings and $40,000 Grand Cherokees with rental-car interiors. No wonder they’re in trouble.

Their paths to salvation don’t lie in staff reduction or bailouts or plant closings. They must innovate and build cars that can compete with the Germans, the Japanese, and most pathetically, the Koreans – the country that gave us a joke called a “Hyundai” in 1985, and now builds the Genesis, which puts most of GM’s cars to shame.

Alfa-Romeo Me, Too

18 Mar

Courtesy Autoblog.