16.08.2004 More details of Fiatís new large family hatchback have broken cover, with the sighting of this lightly camouflaged prototype providing further impressions of the front and rear design

More details of Fiatís new large family hatchback have broken cover, with the sighting of this lightly camouflaged prototype providing further impressions of the front and rear design.

Referred to as the ĎNew Largeí, the car, expected to be called the Croma, will return Fiat to the full-size segment for the first time since production of the original Croma ceased in 1996.

One of Gianni Coda's first decisions on taking over as head of the Fiat-Lancia-LCV business unit in 2002 was to restyle the New Large. At the time, the carís styling had been undertaken by Pininfarina and was already heavily in the development stage.

In the meantime, Italdesign-Giugiaro were given the task to restyle the car, with lessons learned from the Lancia Thesis also being incorporated.

The redesign appears to have paid off, with the interior looking stylish and comfortable. Audio controls mounted on the steering wheel, together with a clearly legible instrument binnacle, give the impression of a highly ergonomic cockpit.

A central multifunctional armrest will add to the comfortable driving experience, whilst this particular prototype has been fitted with a GM-sourced automatic gearbox. The gearlever is positioned mid-way between the centre consol and the dashboard for enhanced ergonomic efficiency.

The dashboard has a high-placed and centrally-mounted LCD screen, ultimately set to display Fiatís Microsoft Windowís based telematics system with Bluetooth technology.

It is most likely that two dashboard colours will be available, dark grey and tan, depending on the colour of the upholstery. Silver and chrome accents together with perforated leather on the steering wheel add to the luxury ambience.

The carís two-box five-door bodywork fits with the latest trend in family car design. This body shape matches the practicality of an estate or wagon, whilst the style is still suitable for executive transport.

The rear end has the advantage of low-entry tailgate, most likely incorporating a separately hinging rear window.

The generous taillights include round elements, whilst the lenses continue a sharp horizontal crease which runs beneath the glasshouse area.

Large front headlights with twin projectors are the most obvious details of the front at this stage. A full-width air inlet is provided in the bumper, with mist lights (most probably optional equipment) positioned within the scoop on vertical dividers.

A key part of Fiat's snowballing revival, and since it will be their newest large car since 1985, they are keen to get this model absolutely right. In order to achieve this, technology has been drawn from Lancia's large Thesis executive saloon.

This aims to provide the New Large with class-leading comfort. Insiderís opinions suggest that this will be a competitive segment player and a worthy successor of the popular Croma.

The new car will be based on the General Motors Epsilon platform, which made its debut on the Opel Vectra.

It is in the mid-sized segment where the car will compete, and is expected to debut in mid-2005. Meanwhile, much interest focuses around a longer term four-wheel-drive 'Crossover' version, which is believed to enhance the cars looks and appeal. 

Prices and engines are as yet unconfirmed.



 

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