Italians Panda to masses
Fiat is bringing multiple models to our showrooms
A ZOO of Fiats— starting with a cut-price 500 and cute Panda — is being crated in to join Australia’s small-car jungle.
Fiat-Chrysler opens with a 500 for about $16,000 next month before bringing in further 500 derivatives, to be followed in December by the four-door Panda (right), then the Punto.
The Panda, a city car in Europe, makes its first appearance in Australia— it has been a staple in Europe and Britain for about 30 years.
The third generation Panda will compete with similar baby SUVs, including Ford’s Fiestabased EcoSport, and is expected to sell for less than $20,000.
Fiat Alfa Romeo spokeswoman Karla Leach won’t confirm pricing but says ‘‘ it will be competitive’’. There’s no confirmation on engine choices though she says ‘‘ there will be a wide range’’ of powerplants, backed by fivespeed manual and the auto Dualogic robotised transmission.
The Panda will arrive as a front-wheel-drive though an all-wheel-drive version is being considered for launch later.
Engine options are likely to be the 900cc two-cylinder TwinAir engine (63kW/ 145Nm) borrowed from the 500, a 1.2-litre petrol four (51kW/102Nm) and a 1.3-litre diesel (55kW/190Nm).
Marginally smaller than the EcoSport, the Panda is 3.7m long and wheelbase is 2.3m. The cabin is roomy, seating five at a pinch, and cargo space is a relatively generous 260 litres (870L with seats that fold flat to take objects up to 2m long).
The Punto four-door hatch goes up against Japanese favourites Mazda2 and Toyota Yaris and is tipped to be about $18,000. Fiat has previously said the hot three-door Abarth Punto Evo Supersport (132kW/ 272Nm) may be a halo model.
Meanwhile the 500’s entrylevel model, the Pop, gets here early next month with a price that competes with the Volkswagen Up ($14,990) and a score of other light-car rivals. The Pop will undercut the $18,800 tag of the existing Fiat 500 TwinAir Plus.