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Geneva show: Fiat unveils Dodge-based Freemont

Freemont march: Fiat’s new Journey-based people-mover is the Italian car-maker’s first Chrysler-derived vehicle since taking control of the ailing US auto giant in 2009.

Dodge Journey-based Fiat Freemont to hit Europe in 2011

Fiat logo25 Jan 2011

By TERRY MARTIN

FIAT has unveiled the first vehicle derived from its product collaboration with the Chrysler Group – a people-mover based on the Dodge Journey, dubbed the Freemont.

Still to be confirmed for production in right-hand drive, and not at this stage on the agenda for sale in Australia, the Fiat Freemont will make is world debut at the Geneva motor show on March 1 ahead of its production in the second half of this year at Chrysler’s Toluca plant in Mexico, which builds the Journey and the US-spec Fiat 500, among other vehicles.

A spokesman for Australian Fiat importer Ateco Automotive said: “Should RHD eventuate, we will then examine the pricing, which will be more complex than usual due to its place of production.

“In short, it is not a model we should expect to see on the Australian or New Zealand market any time soon.”

Described as a “factotum” (or servant) model that is “designed to meet the diverse needs of families and those seeking a spacious, comfortable and versatile vehicle”, the seven-seat Freemont carries only minor styling changes over the recently facelifted 2011 Journey and will be sold in Europe with Chrysler’s 203kW Pentastar V6 petrol engine and a Fiat Powertrain-derived 2.0-litre MultiJet four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine in two states of tune (103kW and 125kW).

Both two-wheel drive and AWD versions will be available, with front-drive model variants using either version of the diesel engine (with a manual gearbox), while AWD is restricted to the top-spec diesel and the 3.6-litre petrol engines, both with an automatic transmission as standard.

Set to replace Fiat’s slow-selling Ulysse, which is built in collaboration with PSA Peugeot Citroen (807, C8), the Freemont is said to offer improved dynamic performance over the Journey with the aid of Fiat engineering, which the company says has developed a unique suspension and steering configuration “for greater accuracy and directness”.

It also says “driving comfort is further guaranteed by significant improvements to passenger compartment soundproofing”.

Design changes are limited to a new front bumper and grille, while the rear end adopts a new bumper and LED tail-lights.

Standard features will include seven airbags, ESC (with a hill holder and electronic roll mitigation system), ABS (with brake assist), triple-zone climate-control air-conditioning, an “advanced trip computer”, tyre pressure monitoring system and a large colour touch-screen for the infotainment system.

A more “metropolitan version” will include 17-inch alloy wheels, a higher-grade stereo and more advanced multi-media features, rear parking sensors, folding wing mirrors, automatic headlights, tinted windows and roof rails.

The Freemont rests on a 2890mm wheelbase – said to be the longest in its class – and measures 4890mm in overall length, 1880mm in width and 1720mm in height.

Versatility is aided by fully folding third-row seats (which are stored below the floor), while the maximum load capacity is listed as 1461 litres.

As GoAuto has reported, Fiat announced its intention to produce a Journey-based people-mover for Europe in a five-year business plan released in April last year.

It said in the plan that five-seater and seven-seater compact MPVs would follow in 2012, amid a raft of other changes for the brand and others in the Fiat Group stable.

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