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First look: Fiat's new Bravo laid bare

Bravo it is: Fiat's Stilo successor will spawn a range of compact bodystyles.

Bravo escapes Fiat's wraps as Stilo's replacement - and a larger stablemate for Punto

16 Aug 2006

LEAKED images of Fiat's all-new Stilo replacement - to be known as Bravo in Europe but likely to be renamed in Australia because Mazda's utility workhorse already employs the name - have surfaced on internet sites around the world.

The Bravo, which has been confirmed for Australia, will be a vital cog in the Italian car-maker's plans to build brand momentum in Australia after the launch of its Punto range in June.

The new VW Golf-sized hatch, codenamed the Progetto 198, is expected to be launched in Europe next March, with a wagon version to arrive early in 2008.

Although not confirmed by Fiat, images of a full-size mock-up, used for clinic tests and official internal previews have flooded Fiat net sites around the world.

The five-door hatch is expected to sit on a 2600mm wheelbase and is said to have been designed for a five-star Euro NCAP crash rating.

It is expected to feature a range of new petrol and turbo-diesel engines in Europe, among them a new 78kW 1.6-litre JTD as well as a more powerful 90kW version with variable geometry turbocharging (VGT).

A range of high-performance engines are also tipped, including two 1.4-litre petrol fours.

Visually the new Bravo follows some styling cues from the Punto, with its deep grille and eyebrow headlights while the profile features a high waistline rising through to deep rear hatch.

The Fiat is said to offer plenty of interior room for five, as well as a good luggage area.

36 center imageStyling was managed by Fiat's chief designer, Frank Stephenson, while Austrian engineering firm Magna-Steyr was said to be contracted to develop the bodywork and interior.

The Bravo hatch is the first in a family of bodystyles to sprout from Fiat's new C-segment model, including a wagon and a replacement for Fiat's current Multipla people-mover - all of which are potential candidates for Australia.

Recently, importer Ateco Automotive's general manager for Fiat cars in Australia, David Stone, said he expected Fiat to be able to sell upwards of 5000 or 6000 vehicles in three years time.

Apart from the Punto and Bravo, the local Fiat chief is hopeful of launching the 500/Cinquecento, but next cab off Fiat's Australian rank will be the Panda mini-SUV, which is expected on sale here by early 2007.

The new Punto range, which relaunched Fiat's passenger car range two months ago, is also expected to swell via a road-going version of Fiat's European Rally Championship-winning racecar, dubbed in Europe as Punto Grale.

Offering no less than 172kW, a six-speed manual transmission and all-wheel drive, it will be the first Punto to wear Fiat's high-performance Abarth badge.

Ateco owner Neville Crichton has personally expressed interest in the hottest Punto ever, which goes on sale in Europe in early 2007.

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