World tour

Fiat’s new Vi­ag­gio comes from three con­ti­nents

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Car News -

The Dart was high on the shop­ping list for Australia when it was un­veiled at the Detroit show in Jan­uary. Since then, Fiat-chrysler Australia de­cided to cull the Dodge name and badge from its lo­cal line-up. A lack of right-hand drive pro­duc­tion is also a hur­dle.

Switch­ing to the Vi­ag­gio would make more sense and, with the Dart just con­firmed with a $15,999 start­ing price in the US, it could eas­ily make it to Australia in the sec­ond half of 2013 with prices start­ing about $25,000.

Fiat-chrysler ad­mits the Dart thrust has been blunted but will not be drawn on the Vi­ag­gio. ‘‘ The Dart is still a very at­trac­tive car but at present, it’s not made with the steer­ing wheel on the cor­rect side for Australia,’’ says spokes­woman Lenore Fletcher.

‘‘ We need to team up with some right-hand drive mar­kets and see what we can do.’’

So is the Ital­ian con­nec­tion a more likely link? The Fiat Fre­mont, a re-badged Dodge Jour­ney with some ex­tra Euro­pean flair, is al­ready a near-cer­tainty for Australia.

Given the Vi­ag­gio’s orig­i­nal Alfa DNA, it would also be eas­ily tweaked for right-hand drive pro­duc­tion and Aus­tralian de­sign rules and cus­tomer pref­er­ences. ‘‘ It’s too early to com­ment on the Vi­ag­gio,’’ Fletcher tells Cars­guide.

Dart de­liv­er­ies be­gin in the US in June and the line-up points to the var­i­ous op­tions for the Vi­ag­gio. The range of US en­gines in­cludes Fiat’s 1.4-litre Mul­tiair turbo and there are five trim lev­els up to the R/T at $23,290. There is also a po­ten­tial high­per­for­mance SRT.

Pointer: The Dodge Dart gets the Ital­ian treat­ment to be­come the Fiat Vi­ag­gio, a likely con­tender here un­der the­new­fiat-chrysler op­er­a­tion

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