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Beijing show: Fiat debuts Viaggio

Chinese with an Italian flavour: Fiat chose the Italian word for voyage to name its Chinese-built Viaggio sedan.

Chrysler Australia lobbies for RHD Viaggio production as potential Chinese import

Fiat logo23 Apr 2012

FIAT today unveiled its Chinese-built Viaggio sedan at the Beijing motor show alongside some special editions of its iconic 500 light car and the Dodge Journey-based Freemont SUV.

Chrysler Australia director of corporate affairs Lenore Fletcher told GoAuto the Viaggio will only be built in left-hand drive to begin with, but that Chrysler Australia, along with the UK and other right-hand-drive markets, are lobbying for RHD production.

She said the company – which will take over Australian distribution of Alfa Romeo and Fiat vehicles from Ateco Group from May 1 – is “very interested” in the Viaggio and confirmed it would be sourced from China for Australia.

The first official full images of the Viaggio – teasers were issued last week – reveal it shares its sheetmetal with the US market Dodge Dart on which it is based.

A different grille plus restyled alloy wheels, bumpers, headlights and LED tail-lights mark the Viaggio out as a more friendly Fiat-faced product compared with the sporty, aggressive-looking Dart that was unveiled at January’s Detroit show.

Fiat is pitching the Viaggio – Italian for voyage – as a premium product, its Compact US Wide (CUSW) underpinnings, based on the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, promising a deft balance of ride and handling.

36 center imageNo interior images have been released, but Fiat’s description of a “floating island bezel” instrument panel matches that of Dodge, as does the availability of an 8.4-inch touchscreen for the satellite-navigation and infotainment system on top-spec models.

Quality materials are promised for the “warm dual-tone” black and beige cabin, eschewing imitation wood and metal in favour of soft-touch surfaces and chrome details.

At 4679mm long, 1850mm wide and riding on a 2708mm wheelbase, the Viaggio is slightly larger than a Holden Cruze, meaning it might join the Volkswagen Jetta at the lower end of Australia’s mid-size segment if imported here.

Fiat’s 1.4-litre turbocharged Tjet four-cylinder petrol engines will provide propulsion in 88kW and 110kW states of tune, driving the front wheels through a choice of five-speed manual or six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmissions.

The Viaggio/Dart signifies the first Fiat-Chrysler joint project and the Viaggio will be the first localised Chinese market product for the Guangzhou Automobile Company (GAC)/Fiat joint venture.

Entering into one of China’s most competitive segments, Fiat said it is targeting young, stylish customers who have grown up in the cities, have a passion for life and are “set to become the backbone of Chinese society”.

Production will begin in late June at the new GAC Fiat Changsa factory in Hunan province, with first deliveries to its 91 Chinese dealers and their 125 showrooms planned for the fourth quarter of this year.

The factory will have an initial production capacity of 170,000 vehicles per year, with the potential to expand beyond 300,000.

Fiat said the new production facility, construction of which is nearing completion, will have some of the world’s best facilities, logistics, management and production systems.

It will also implement the ‘World Class Manufacturing’ standards for quality and efficiency, rolled out across all Fiat and Chrysler Group plants around the world.

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