1 Jul 2008
AFTER more than 20 years away from the Australian small-car segment, Fiat returned with the Ritmo.
But its importer, Ateco Automotive, did very little to promote the five-door hatchback, and so consequently the Ritmo flew unnoticed underneath many small-car buyers’ radar.
Sold in Europe as the Brava, the Ritmo is essentially a rebodied Stilo, the early 2000s series that bombed spectacularly in Europe, and almost forced Fiat to the wall.
The attractive redesign inside and out, along with some fresh engine options, partly redressed the situation abroad, but the Ritmo is behind Europe’s best small cars, such as the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus.
Convention rules underneath, with a MacPherson strut front suspension and a torsion beam rear end, along with rack and pinion steering and four-wheel disc brakes.
Initially two engines were introduced in early 2008 – a turbocharged 110kW/230Nm 1.4-litre petrol engine, and a 1.9-litre diesel delivering the same 110kW as the 1.4 petrol but 305Nm of torque. Both drove the front wheels via a six-speed manual transmissionFrom July 2008 a pair of new engines were added to the range.
The 1.4-litre naturally aspirated ‘Fire’ engine produces 66kW of power and 128Nm of torque, while the Dynamic 1.9 JTD Multijet is powered by an eight-valve 1.9 JTD turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine producing 88kW and 255Nm. Both utilised a five-speed manual only gearbox.
No Ritmo automatics are available.
Standard features include six airbags, ABS, air-conditioning, a digital sound system, remote central locking, cruise control, trip computer and front power windows, plus a chrome trimmed cabin with carbonfibre-look highlights.
But sales were extremely sluggish, and in the ensuing global financial crisis from the latter months of 2008 onwards, Fiat culled the range right back to just the Ritmo Sport 1.4 T-jet and Dynamic 1.9 JTD.
When it was new