Fiat Group Automobiles South Africa plans to re-launch the Fiat 500 range (top, 1.3 Multijet 16v Lounge) making it more accessible while the Alfa 159 (bottom) will be joined in the Alfa Romeo range this year by the MiTo featuring Multiair and the forthcoming Giulietta.

A whole raft of new products from the Fiat and Alfa Romeo stables will be arriving in South Africa during 2010, the most exciting being the local debut of Fiat’s 500C and the launch of Alfa Romeo’s much-anticipated Giulietta. The other big news from the Italian automaker is the ‘re-launch’ of the entire Fiat 500 range, new pricing making the supermini a whole lot more accessible, with Fiat Group Automobiles South Africa expecting volumes to rise as a result.

The new 'Model Year' Panda, freshened up with a subtle facelift (grille, headlights, mirrors, wheel trims, exterior colours and interior trim) will arrive in South Africa this year, and as well as a re-shuffle of the range – out goes the 1.1 Active and in comes the 1.2 Dynamic with Duologic auto gearbox (MTA). Other models remain in the line-up but, of course, with the refreshed new look; it is expected to arrive in the showrooms late next month.

There will be a re-alignment of the Punto hatchback range with the Grande Punto (the latest version, the Punto Active, was launched locally in late in 2009) effectively covering the bottom end and the Punto Evo doing service at the upper end. Engines for the entry-level Punto range will most likely remain the 1.4 (normally aspirated) unit – possible additions to the Punto range can be expected to supplement the existing Punto Emotion. The Punto Evo range will most likely comprise two Multiair units – a 1.4 and 1.4 Turbo (with the turbo more of a certainty than normally-aspirated 1.4). There will be a mid-year arrival for both Punto additional models and Punto Evos.

The South African market will see a complete ‘re-launch’ of the 500 around March/April to make the award-winning supermini more accessible and make it the axis of the Fiat passenger car range. Two new additions also planned - the 500C (convertible) and an MTA version equipped with Fiat’s Dualogic automatic transmission. Unfortunately the Abarth version will not be coming this year.

Meanwhile for the Alfa Romeo brand range changes this year will kick off with the Multiair version of the MiTo and this will result in two new models – 100 kW- and 125 kW-engined versions (both fitted with the 1.4 turbo). They are targeted to reach South Africa between the second and third quarters. The 125 kW version will most likely be badged Quadrofoglio Verde and will be even more sports-biased than the current 114 kW MiTo 1.4 TBi thanks to its extra grunt and racy add-ons.

The big news for the niche sports brand will be the arrival of the forthcoming Alfa Romeo Giulietta, which is set to hit South Africa between the third and fourth quarters, certainly no later than October. The Golf 6, Audi A3 and Ford Focus rival is significantly coming in the same year as its international, which is also Alfa Romeo’s centenary year. Two models are currently planned - a 125 kW 1.4 Turbo Multiair and a 170 kW 1.8 Turbo Multiair, likely to be badged Quadrofoglio Verde). Fiat Group Automobiles South Africa is also considering bringing the Brera and Spider fitted with the new 1750 TBi engine – not a certainty yet but if the plan is given the green light the cars are expected to land by mid-year.

© 2010 Interfuture Media/Italiaspeed