Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Fiat to Launch Dodge Dart as the New Viaggio in China, Hatchback Version May Replace Bravo


At next month's 2012 Beijing Auto Show, Fiat will whip the covers off a new compact sedan model named the Viaggio before it begins producing the car in China in July, ahead of its market launch later in the year, according to a report from Autonews Europe.

The new sedan, which is named after the Italian word for Journey, will be a rebadged version of the new 2013 Dodge Dart sedan that will reach U.S. dealerships this May with a starting price of $15,995 (€12,100 / GBP 10,100).

The Dart is based on a modified version of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta's platform. It measures 4,672mm (183.9-in. long, 1,830mm (72-in.) wide, 1,465mm (57.7-in.) tall and rides on a 2,703mm (106.4-in.) wheelbase.

In theory, it competes against C-segment sedans like the Ford Focus and VW Jetta, but it's actually longer and wider than some D-segment saloons such as the new BMW 3-Series.

In China, Fiat's version of the Dart will be offered with its 1.4-liter petrol engines in both naturally aspirated and turbocharged forms, which will be built locally.

The Viaggio will be the first model to be produced from Fiat's joint venture with China's Guangzhou Automobile Group at a new factory with an initial annual output of 140,000 vehicles, which could rise to around 250,000 cars.

Fiat hasn’t had much luck with its Chinese joint ventures as the Italian company dissolve its money-losing partnership with Nanjing Automotive back in 2007, while another attempt to cooperate with Chery Automotive the same year failed to go through.

The Italian automaker aims to sell up to 300,000 cars a year in China by 2014 from less than 1,500 in 2011, as it tries to offset its loses in Europe due to the ongoing economic crisis.

Autonews said that according to Fiat sources, aside from the sedan model, there are plans to produce a five-door hatchback version of the Viaggio/Dart, which could be exported to Europe as a replacement for the Bravo.


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