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First look: Fiat’s Australian-bound Punto

Punt: Fiat's on-again-off-again Australian reintroduction will be headlined by the new Punto 12 months from now.

Fiat reveals new Punto hatch ahead of its 2005 Frankfurt and 2006 Sydney show debuts

1 Aug 2005

FIAT’S all-new Punto hatch has surfaced ahead of its world public debut at the September Frankfurt motor show – and its Australian premiere 12 months later at the 2006 Sydney motor show.

Dubbed Punto Grande, the redesigned compact hatch will enter right-hand drive production in mid-2006, before going on sale in Australia as part of a relaunched Fiat passenger car range late next year.

Ateco Automotive holds the import and distribution rights for Kia, Alfa Romeo, Citroen and Fiat brands in Australia, and says the much-publicised return of Fiat passenger cars to Australia (it already sells the popular Fiat Ducato commercial here) was dependent on both a viable $AUD-Euro exchange rate and the right car.

Ateco governing director Neville Crichton told GoAuto exclusively in May that the exchange rate was now sufficient to reintroduce the brand, and that the launch range would be headed by the new Punto.

First pictures and details of the new Punto have now been revealed, and Ateco intends to launch it alongside the large Croma wagon as part of Fiat’s passenger vehicle range reintroduction in October 2006.

While a Melbourne motor show debut is still a possibility for Punto, later than expected right-hand drive production means a Sydney show launch is more likely.

Fiat has high hopes for its redesigned Punto, with which it aims to regain leadership of the vitally important and highly competitive European compact hatch segment.

As such, the new model is much larger and safer than the 1993 original, which went on to attract some six million sales globally.

36 center image Measuring 4030mm long, 1680mm wide, 1490mm high and riding on a 2510mm wheelbase, Punto Grande will be one of the largest vehicles in its class and is claimed to offer an "extraordinary" amount of interior space.

To be available in three and five-door hatch guise – along with four distinct versions – from launch, Punto Grande’s styling is the result of a partnership between Italdesign-Giugiaro and Centro Stile Fiat.

While Australian specifications – including engine choices – are yet to be finalised, the European Punto range will comprise two petrol engines, including a 49kW eight-valve 1.2-litre four-cylinder and a new 58kW eight-valve 1.4.

Four turbo-diesels will also be offered in Europe, ranging from 56kW and (variable-geometry turbo-equipped) 68kW versions of Fiat’s 16-valve 1.3-litre MultiJet engine, to a 1.9-litre MultiJet oil-burner with either 90kW or 97kW of peak power. All Punto engines will be Euro4 emissions-compliant.

Claimed to constitute the best range of diesel engines available in its category – each at "very competitive" prices – Punto Grande is also said to offer a high-quality and functional interior, the solidity and build quality of a larger-class vehicle, and agile and responsive handling.

Punto is expected to compete in Australia with premium light cars like Ford’s European-engineered Fiesta, which is priced from around $15,000.

The Croma wagon, meantime, will be large enough to rival Australia’s large homegrown wagons, and should be powered by both a 112kW 2.2-litre petrol engine and the same 160kW 2.4-litre turbo-diesel that will be available in Alfa’s 156-replacing 159 sedan by mid-2006.

Fiat’s Australian passenger car line-up is not expected to swell beyond Punto and Croma until after the next-generation Stilo small hatch emerges globally.

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