Fiat Automóveis Brasil has released the first official images of the anticipated new Cronos sedan, which will replace the elderly Grand Siena when it goes on sale early next year, showing for the first time its brand-new rear end but also exposing that there are plenty of new styling upgrades to the front clip in order to clearly differentiate it from the hatchback it’s been spun off.

The Cronos is the sedan version of the B-segment Argo hatchback, which debuted earlier this summer, and thus also uses the new MP-S (Modular Platform Sedan) platform. Codenamed, X6S, the Cronos is the work of the FCA Design Center Latam. It's certainly a very conventional 3-box design but shows some neat styling touches that are a long time trademark of Fiat's Brazilian division.

The all new rear end has a very pronounced horizontal step in the bootlid between the rear lights which is the sedan version’s key new styling feature. Above this distinct feature, the top section of the bootlid, which integrates a lip spolier, is concave in form and the new large style rear ‘FIAT’ badge is thus mounted proud of the panel and that also appears to be another neat touch.

Lower down there is a fairly conventional real bumper and spoiler with horizontal reflectors, eschewing the form of the Argo’s curved ones.

Fiat Automóveis Brasil has previously indicated that the boot capacity will be above the 521 litres offered by the forthcoming VW Virtus (the sedan version of the Polo) so the Cronos will be the class leader in the important luggage carrying terms.

Following a longstanding tradition for Fiat models in Latin America, the sedan versions of its hatchbacks also gain new styling upgrades at the front end to emphasise their differentiation and with the Cronos it’s the same case as there are a number of clear visual differences to the well-received Argo.

While the Cronos retains the same headlights, bonnet and wings, the front grille has a new mesh pattern, there's a thick black finisher inserted between the grille and the headlamps (the headlights and grille actually butt into each other on the Argo) to give it a flush and harmonious feel while there is a chromed whisker to either side of the badge.

On the lower spoiler the fog lamp has been removed from its position in the Argo where it's embedded into the lower grille and moved outwards to a separate bezel which replaces the hatchback’s slightly awkward dummy brake intake vents. That means the lower spoiler has been reshaped and as well as a new mesh pattern is trimmed with a thick chrome finisher running across the top. That all means the horizontal space between the upper and lower grilles has gained a distinct crease and the spoiler edges have new profiles.

Along the flanks of the Cronos the colour coded handles of the Argo are now painted in a chrome finish while there are new chromed horizontal strips running across the lower door sections. The wing badge reveals that this is the higher end ‘Precision’ trim level.

Fiat Automóveis Brasil has also confirmed that the car will come with a choice of two engines, the 1.3-litre Firefly and 1.8-litre EtorQ Evo, meaning the entry level 1.0-litre Firefly option on the Argo won’t be carried over as the weight of the Cronos sedan will rise slightly.

Further features across the range should include engine start-stop system as standard while the Argo’s Traction Control (TC), Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Hill Holder and ISOFIX seat brackets will be amongst optional equipment offered on higher specification Cronos models. The Cronos will also benefit from the improved construction technology of the Argo, which boasts a 7% increase in torsional rigidity and an 8% increase in flexural stiffness. Also coming to the Cronos will be Fiat’s 7-inch Uconnect multimedia system, keyless entry and electrochromic internal rear-view mirror.

The Cronos will be assembled at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ factory at Córdoba in Argentina following a R$500 investment and it’s set to be exported to all of the the major Latin American markets, starting with Brazil. The Córdoba factory currently builds the Siena sedan and has been assembling this strategic B-segment car on and off since the plant first started production in 1996.

The Cronos will debut at the beginning of 2018, adhering to a Latin American tradition by Fiat that sees its B-segment hatchback models followed around six month later by the sedan version. The Cronos is a strategically important model for Fiat Automoveis Brasil. The ageing Siena’s sales have plummeted by two thirds over the last couple of years. The Siena’s latest major makeover came in 2012 when it was relaunched as the ‘Grand Siena’. The segment the Cronos is set to attack is the second biggest in Brazil and will account for around 330,000 units in 2017 while in Argentina it will be equivalent to about 100,000 units.

However, there are more than thirteen popular models on sale in this ever-crowding segment so the Cronos has a tough task ahead to seize the leadership. The new model’s biggest rival in the showrooms is expected to be the recently announced VW Virtus (Polo sedan) while the Ford Ka+ (which arrived on the market in Brazil in two years ago), the Chevrolet Prisma (the sedan version of the Onix hatchback, which debuted locally in 2013) and the Hyundai HB20S (introduced in Brazil during 2012) will all be targets. All four models of these are assembled in Brazil. Also in the frame as a strong future rival will be the new Toyota Yaris ATIV.

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