The new Fiat Siena has broken cover completely undisguised ahead of its official launch in November, and its arrival on the Argentinean and Brazilian markets a month later. Clear images of the car have been published by Brazilian magazine Auto Esporte, which arrives on the newsstands on Monday.

The styling of the final facelifted version of the Siena has clearly been influenced by the new Linea saloon, which is now being built in Turkey and which is due to begin Latin American production in Brazil during 2008. From the front the New Siena gets the Palio 2008’s frontal features, but with some subtle differences. The headlights are larger, helping to give it the distinctive appearance of a larger, more upmarket saloon – a key aspect in the designers’ minds. The circular foglamps are also more smoothly wrapped into the spoiler than on the Palio 2008.  Mimicking the larger Linea, the New Siena’s split radiator grille is finished in chrome (as opposed to a black finish on the New Palio), while another feature drawn straight from the Linea are the colour-coded rubbing strips which wrap around the front wings.

The chromed rubbing strips in fact run right down the side of the car and onto the rear wings. At the rear, the New Siena shows off its clear Linea design influences with a high, jutting boot section that serves to give it a bigger feel.  The boot lid and rear bumper are also Linea-inspired, as is the chunky chrome strip that runs across the base of the boot lid, a feature that has also been incorporated into the styling of the Brazilian market Linea. Unlike the Palio 208, the facelifted Siena receives the new Fiat badge at the front and rear.

To complement this comprehensive makeover, three engine versions are expected to feature, with all three options making full consideration of local market demand for passenger cars that can mix the different fuel types available at the pumps. A 1.4 FlexFuel with 85 bhp petrol/86 bhp alcohol will open the range, with the same technology in 1.8 form (113 bhp petrol/115 bhp alcohol) providing an alternative for those looking for more performance. The lineup will be completed with a 1.4 Tetrafuel unit, offering outputs of 80 bhp (petrol), 81 bhp (alcohol) or 68 bhp (gas).

To provide a cheap entry-level version, Betim will continue to produce the outgoing Siena model, fitted with the 1.0 FlexFuel engine, with 65 bhp petrol/66 bhp alcohol. This means a New Siena 1.0 ELX FlexFuel version is unlikely to be seen, partly due to the additional weight of the new model, but also because Fiat has seen that the Brazilian market has preferred the outgoing Palio 1.0 FlexFuel to the New Palio 1.0 ELX FlexFuel. Although the New Palio 2008 arrived in March, the previous version of the Palio is still being produced in 1.0 FlexFuel format to provide the B-segment hatchback range with a low-cost entry level car – particularly important in South America where highly competitive pricing is of paramount importance to customers. Around 80 percent of New Palio 2008 sales come from the 1.4 ELX.

The New Siena will be much more comfortable, practical and roomy inside, with new fabrics featuring softer coverings.  Specification is expected to mirror the new Palio’s features. These include a cabin which boasts a front roof light with spotlight, rear roof light, courtesy vanity mirrors located in the sunshades, an illuminated vanity mirror on passenger side sunshade, an illuminated and internal opening device for luggage compartment, “my car” system, follow-me-home device, Fiat Code, trip computer, internal catches for the opening for the bonnet and fuel tank, and heated rear screen glass with wash-wipe. Electric front windows with an automatic function and anti-theft device, remote central locking, electric rear side windows with anti-theft system and electric body-coloured door mirrors are now available, while ABS, EBD and airbags are now optional for all versions.

The New Siena will be built at Fiat’s factory in Córdoba, Argentina, representing the revival of production at the mothballed plant. In Brazil the New Siena will be built alongside the outgoing one in Betim. The New Siena will be launched in Argentina in January, shortly after its debut in Brazil.

by Claudio Perlini

© 2007 Interfuture Media/Italiaspeed