24.07.2007 FIAT GRANDE PUNTO REVS UP FOR BRAZILIAN DEBUT

The Fiat Grande Punto is busy reving up for its Brazilian debut early next month, the locally-built version of the successful hatchback now preparing to roll off the production lines at Betim. This will be the first time that the Grande Punto has been built anywhere outside of Italy since its market introduction in September 2005.

Set to be introduced to the media in Brazil on 8th August this version to be built in the factory at will use all-locally sourced components and under the skin it will be quite a different animal to the version that has taken Europe by storm, including its engines. At the launch the Brazilian Grande Punto will have two engines options, 1.4- and 1.8-litre, both featuring the now-obligatory 'dual fuel' format, allowing petrol or alcohol to be used either in pure or any mixture form.

The 1.4-litre 8v FIRE version, to be dubbed as the ELX, is expected to produce around 80-85 bhp using pure petrol and 80-86 bhp using pure alcohol. The 1.8-litre version, to be sold as the HLX and as the range-topping 'Sporting' will produce 112-113 bhp (petrol) and 114-115 bhp (alcohol). The 1.4 ELX and 1.8 HLX will run on 14-inch wheels, while the 1.8 Sporting will top the range and feature 16-inch wheels and options including the SkyDome roof seen on European versions as standard.

While the 1.4 FIRE engine is a Fiat unit, the 1.8 engine is being sourced from GM in Brazil, through its Chevrolet brand. However the recent unpicking of the half-decade long agreement between Fiat and GM, means that this unit will soon be replaced by more powerful engine currently under in final stages of development by Fiat Brazil. A new 1.9-litre 16v powerplant, which is closely based on the former European-manufactured 'Torque' engine and with an estimated 130 bhp, will eventually replace the launch GM 1.8 in the line-up. The new 1.9-litre unit will make its local debut in the Linea '3-box' sedan, which will also be built in Brazil at Betim from the end of this year, and its arrival as an option in the Grande Punto is expected very shortly afterwards. Meanwhile, the long-running 1.4-litre 8v FIRE unit is expected to be upgraded and introduced in the future in the Grande Punto in 16v format, and boasting around 100 bhp. However this option is only in the proposal stage at present and not as yet signed off.

The new Fiat Grande Punto will actually arrive on the local market as an additional model in the Fiat Brazil line-up, slotting in above the Palio (which has just received a comprehensive final facelift) and just below the Stilo.
 

FIAT GRANDE PUNTO 1.8 SPORTING

The Sporting version, will have darkened headlight backing plates, rear light housings with a white upper section (similar to the Grande Punto Abarth) and a Skydome roof as standard.

FIAT GRANDE PUNTO 1.4 ELX

The 1.4-litre 8v FIRE version of the Grande Punto, to be dubbed as the ELX, is expected to produce around 80-85 bhp using pure petrol and 80-86 bhp using pure alcohol.


As is the case in most global new car markets, Brazilian buyers are rapidly becoming aspirational in their new car purchase choices. Fiat Brazil currently has a very 'budget' conscious model range so the Grande Punto, which closely mirrors its highly successful European counterpart, will offer buyers a more premium product and being a process of shifting the Fiat Brazil brand upmarket.

The Brazilian Grande Punto will feature a host of detailing differences between the European and Brazilian versions. A new interior will be offset by a slightly larger rear luggage compartment. Other changes include slightly reshaped door frame window apertures, new cylindrical front foglamps, tailgate lock barrel mounted just below the rear badge, a chrome finished front grille (to provide 'family' continuity with the Linea) while the 'Sporting' option, which aims to draw on the sales success of the European market's high-end Sporting version, will have darkened headlight backing plates, rear light housings with a white upper section (similar to the Grande Punto Abarth) and a Skydome roof as standard, although 16-inch alloy wheels will feature rather than the European 17-inch specification ones which will be an option. The new Fiat badge, recently introduced in Europe on the Bravo, and now on the 500, will make its South America debut on the Grande Punto. This will also place it ahead of Europe where the model is still sold with the blue background.

Prices in Brazil will range from R$ 40.000 up to R$ 50.000. The Grande Punto will be quickly rolled out onto the other major South American markets, including Argentina, Chile (where it will replace the European version currently being imported) and Mexico. Fiat Brazil will also investigate bringing the Abarth-branded version as part of a gradual global roll-out by Fiat of the Abarth name. However these models would likely be imported from Europe in very small numbers and attract a hefty premium. A 'hot', affordable version (in the vein of the successful Palio 1.8 R) is expected to be built in Brazil, while Fiat will also look closely at an 'Adventure' option, which would allow this very successful low-cost branding to move into a more premium segment.
 

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