Fiat gets radical on Golf rival

* Fiat Bravo hatch will disappear... * ...but 500 line-up will grow to rival Golf * Punto will be replaced...

22 February 2013
Fiat gets radical on Golf rival

The Fiat Bravo will not be replaced with another conventional rival to the VW Golf, according to the car maker's European brand boss. However, he revealed it is planning a direct successor to the current Fiat Punto.

Fiat has recently aligned its line-up, focusing on either 'functional' cars such as the Panda or 'aspirational' models such as the 500. That move, and the costs of developing an all-new supermini that would have to compete in an ultra-competitive market, had prompted suggestions that the current Punto (whose origins can be traced back to a tie-up with Vauxhall/Opel) could be the last.

However, Fiat's brand director for Europe, Gianluca Italia, has said the company is committed to another supermini and that it will not need any assistance to develop it.

'We have to play to our strengths, and Fiat is known for producing very good small cars,' said Italia. 'So a new B-segment [Fiesta size] car will happen; there will definitely be another one after the current Punto.

'We are already using our connections in other markets the USA, and Brazil, for example to produce models globally, so we don't necessarily need a partner for the project to make it happen. We have enough resources and potential sales to do it ourselves.'

The Bravo, meanwhile, has struggled for sales since it was introduced in 2007. Italia believes that the expansion of the 500 line-up which will include not only the soon-to-arrive 500L, but also a seven-seat version of that car, and an SUV, all before the end of 2014 will give Fiat better options in the VW Golf sector than a direct replacement ever could.

'We look at the C-segment [VW Golf size] now and wonder what we can do there,' said Italia. 'I think the cars that do the work for us there will be a mixture of the 500L and the 500X; that gives us some MPV sales, some SUV sales and all with the character of the 500 that is so important.'

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By John McIlroy