By on February 3, 2010

Today’s review of the Fiat Bravo is more than just a unique look at a European-market vehicle that will never be sold in the United States: it’s an(other) early look at the future of Chrysler. Sergio Marchionne has called the C and D segments “critical” for US-market success, and the C-Evo platform that lies beneath the Fiat Bravo tested today, will form the basis for planned 2012 replacements to the Caliber and PT Cruiser and possibly the re-launched Sebring and Avenger (reportedly in stretched form). Indeed, the Lancia-trimmed version, known as the Delta, was shown at the Detroit Auto Show in Chrysler-brand drag, apparently to prove how easy these rebadges will be. As cynical as this might seem, Mr Bronfer’s relatively positive review leaves little doubt that Fiat’s got more to offer the C and D segments than the aging, neglected Mitsubishi platform that currently underpins Chrysler’s offerings in these classes. In that sense, this is some of the most positive news we’ve heard about Chrysler’s future in a while.

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34 Comments on “A Note From The Editor On Our Most Recent Review...”


  • avatar
    Cammy Corrigan

    I have two problems here:

    1. So what if the review was just another Euro car which won’t be sold in NA? I have to look at Pontiacs, Buicks, Cadillacs, Fords, Chevrolets, even Toyotas which I like but won’t be sold in Europe. I thought TTAC was a global site, not just NA-centric?

    2. Hold your horses on the praise for Fiat and Chrysler. If they decided to bring that platform to NA, they may need to Federalise it and make sure it meets NA crash requirements (which are very stringent) which may mean bloating. So there’s still a chance that this platform may not work well in NA.

    • 0 avatar

      Fair comments but how hard would federalising this platform really be though? The Bravo carries a “full marks” 5 star EuroNCAP adult occupant protection rating after all (the equivalent test this side of the pond, and also “very stringent”). While the standards are different in some respects, I doubt there would be much (if any) work needed on the platform to sail through FMVSS testing.

      I think this is exactly the good news it’s being painted as, and it’s great to see it getting reported here on TTAC which is after all primarily a NA site.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      Getting good (or even great) marks on EuroNCAP doesn’t mean that a car is ready for the US regs, which have many specific requirements (such as bumper standards) that aren’t used in Europe.

      Ask VW why they are not bringing over cars like the Polo, the new Scirocco or the Touran if it’s so easy to federalize European cars …

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks th009, it’s interesting that VW are holding back models (especially since they seem hellbent on expanding in the US) … but it can’t be an insurmountable obstacle though or how would cheap rebadge cars like the Saturn (Opel) Astra come about?

      Given the level of government involvement in GM and Chrysler’s rescue packages, *and* the requirement for both to invest in smaller, more efficient (read: imported European) platforms I wonder how long some of those crash test differences will last…

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      @splateagle, the Astra was able to come over because (1) Opel designed-in the US requirements at the start, (2) they got lucky and it met the requirements anyway, or (3) GM grossly overestimated the sales volume (relative to the federalization costs). Take your pick!

      Canada changed their rules (last year?) and now accepts cars that meet either US or European bumper standards. It’s a step in the right direction, hope we can slowly move toward a global rule set.

    • 0 avatar
      FromBrazil

      The Nissan Tiida, I think Versa in the US, is really a Renault Clio underneath. So goodness or badness of the car not withstanding, I really don’t think there’d be any problem in the legalization of any modern European (specially bigger one, Hey, the Versa is mid-size car by the rest of the world’s standards, ok?) car.

  • avatar

    With Sebring sales up 85% this car may not be necessary. Besides if it is based on a Fiat it will start shedding parts on the Highway.

    • 0 avatar

      1975 called, they want their cliche back

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      Sebring sales may be up 85%, but that’s compared to a disastrous January 2009. Chrysler sold about 3700 units, or an annual rate of about 45K Sebrings. That compares to an annual rate of 27K last year — or 72K in 2008.

      And for this January, compare that 3700 units to the 12K+ Fusions, and 16K+ Malibus, and you will realize that Chrysler desperately needs a competent Sebring replacement. And will need one even worse two years from now.

    • 0 avatar
      srogers

      “Shedding parts on the highway”

      Yeah, Fiat’s going to have a real tough job living up to Chrysler’s excellent reliability reputation(?)

    • 0 avatar
      windswords

      Actually, according to JD Powers long term survey (3 years) Chrysler vehicles have been mid pack in reliablity over the years, beating some marks that were thought to exude quality, like Nissan, Mitsubishi, Volkswagon, and Mercedes when they were “merged” with them in 1998. If Chrysler has declined much since 2000 in the survey, it’s because of Daimler’s cost cutting and criminal negligence.

    • 0 avatar
      GeneralMalaise

      Bet you still wear patchouli oil…

  • avatar
    Philip Riegert

    I’m excited to see some Euro models if only to spice up the look of cars on the streets here.

    Oh, and I want a Fiat 500 Abarth :D

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    Oh Boy! More cars to choose from!

    What I really want is a car like the X1/9 I had in my 20′s. A bit larger, please.

    PLease, please!

    • 0 avatar
      GeneralMalaise

      Good Lord, yes! First new car I ever purchased was a ’74 X1/9 and I currently own ’76 and ’81 X’s. I would pit their more grins per mile factor against any current car. I’ve long contended this was a market segment that Suzuki could’ve filled with a small, high-revving, low weight, mid-engined car. Perfect fit!

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    If Chrysler’s survival is based on Fiat products, then there’s some things that we have to keep in mind.

    If car companies could survive on the wallets of enthusiasts who read blogs and car magazines, then BMW and Porsche wouldn’t be marketing their products like fashion accessories.

    Chrysleriats will have to appeal to buyers in the same way Corollas and Civics appeal to buyers. Most motorists want a ride that’s Barcalounger smooth. They want the car to be as reliable as their washer and dryer. That’s what it will take to get Chrysler to be a profitable concern again.

    Unless their new corporate masters can accomplish that with existing Fiat products, and do it in a reasonably fast fashion, and make products that are more compelling than Kia, Hyundai, Honda and Toyota, then it’s curtains for Chrysler.

    And that, is a very tall order.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      I don’t think FIAT needs to out-compete Toyota, Hyundai or the like, they just need to hang on a little longer than weaker players (GM, PSA, Renault, Mitsubishi) and benefit from the dead-cat bounce.

    • 0 avatar

      Well, that and they need to “right-size” Chrysler to be a profitable operation on a tiny sliver of marketshare. Chrysler is going to be a niche automaker and Fiat will somehow have to reorganize it while increasing it’s sales with appealing mainstream (and niche) products.

      Fiat-based Chrysler vehicles isn’t a bad way to go provided their well executed. Rams, Jeeps, muscle cars and others make up more volume as well. I don’t think Chrysler is every going to be as big as it was in it’s heyday or the 90s ever again. It doesn’t have to be to make money either.

      It just has to get it’s costs and operation under control while keeping loyalists and attracting new customers. Competing head-on with Toyota and Honda isn’t necessarily going to do that.

  • avatar

    The car shown in Detroit would not sell well here owing to its exterior styling. As much as I personally like hatchbacks, I didn’t find this one attractive. And Americans simply don’t care for hatchbacks that aren’t SUVs.

    • 0 avatar
      FromBrazil

      Well, FWIW, this car could be a smashing success in Brazil. We do like hatchbacks, and the Chrysler brand is much better known than Lancia.

      And to me, and I bet the common Brazilian consumer, it looks both futuristic and elegant. It would surely create a stir.

  • avatar
    educatordan

    Mr. Panhard – agreed.

    But that is a gorgeous silhouette, with a beautiful grill, and very nice color palate. Car looks nice too.

  • avatar
    dan

    Chrysler sales are falling hard. Look at these numbers

    January 2008 137,392 units
    January 2009 62,157 units
    January 2010 57,143 units

    That means chrysler had a horrible 2009 sales of 62,157 when the financial world was ending and chrysler had an even WORSE january 2010 sales of 57,143. Chrysler is going down and fast. Chrysler employees here can put their head in the sand all they want but sales are falling hard and will continue to fall. To think chrysler went BANKRUPT with better sales.

  • avatar
    dan

    Bla Bla Bla chrysler……Bla Bla Bla fiat. Who is fiat and why hasn’t NO ONE talked about them before chrysler went bankrupt and fiat came into the picture. When I say NO ONE i mean NO ONE evn knew Fiat was alive. Nowall you chrysler employees are talking about fiat like little school girls. the FACT is sale continue to CRASH. All this little school girl talking isn’t going to change that.

    • 0 avatar

      Dan just because nobody in the USA was talking to you about FIAT before doesn’t mean nobody was talking about them, outside your bubble they’ve been a significant global player in the automotive industry for over a century.

      That US = World mentality is what saw two thirds of the US domestic motor industry go bust last year, the blunt fact is that US market sales alone aren’t enough to keep a car company afloat in the C21st, and the rest of the world isn’t interested in buying American market targeted cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Roundel

      You show your ignorance in every post.
      A: Stop quoting the same damn sales numbers Ad nauseam… its not pertinent anymore.
      B: To signify that you think that Sergio and Fiat are a joke means that you have no flippin clue about the automotive world.
      C: and as splateagle mentioned, globilization happened and people should now care about things outside of the U.S.
      Surely you must be one disgruntled ex-employee, or someone ran over your dog with a Caravan.
      So unless you can bring something into the discussion other than your tired rant, stop wasting this sites bandwith and our time.

    • 0 avatar
      FromBrazil

      Mr. dan,

      The world is (thankfully) much bigger than whatever little neck of the woods you’re stuck in. And holds many different and beautiful things that are not seen or heard of in North America. Try one sometimes. You just might like it.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    I thought this was going to be a spread on “The women of Battlestar Gallactica”.

    Bring on-eth the cheese-caketh!

    • 0 avatar
      Telegraph Road

      This particular model was one of the show-stoppers flown in by Chrysler from Europe for press week at the Detroit Auto Show. Alas, I think she was nowhere to be found when the doors were opened to the general public.

  • avatar
    dignotov

    Having learned how to drive on a mid 70′s Fiat 131 sedan, I for one am waiting patiently to see if Fiat/Chrysler would offer something similar (updated of course)in the US. And if they throw in the lady standing next to the car in the photo, I’m in!

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    Oh my. I haven’t driven the Bravo. But it might be worth mentioning that just about everybody from the press who has says it sucks? Impossible driving position, lifeless steering, low visibility, bad ride comfort when equipped with 18″ wheels. And standard bad Fiat reliability. They say the 150HP engine sparkles, as many from Fiat and Alfa Romeo do, right until the timing belt snaps before its time. Methinks TTAC is being too generous here.

    • 0 avatar
      Tal Bronfer

      Martin,

      I haven’t found the Bravo to be entirely horrible. Your points are valid (and all of them are mentioned in the review), but non of them are deal breakers. They simply make the Bravo not particularly bold or revolutionary compared to its segment. Yes, I expected more dynamically speaking, but offerings in this class don’t always place driving dynamics on the forefront of their wishlist. You also have to keep in mind that it is significantly cheaper than the benchmark Golf.

      Would I pick a Bravo over a Golf? Not really. But it still remains a solid entry among the lower-priced family hatchbacks because of its lively engine, well-made cabin and attractive looks.

      I can’t vouch for reliability as it’s been selling for three months in the local market.

    • 0 avatar
      FromBrazil

      Hello Mr. Martin Schwoerer!

      Don’t recall Mr Clarkson calling it that bad! IIRCC he grudgingly liked it.

      C’mon the Golf is a tired design, the Focus a Peugeot look-alike, the Peugeot is old, the Citroen has that weird middle placement of instruments, the Mégane has appeared in final form?, the Astra do I need to say something? In this class, the design is special. The transmission is livable and you can always get a manual. The drivability is entertaining. The price is fair as is the insurance. What’s not to like?

      Down here we just replace the timing belt a couple of thousand miles before the manual tells you to and all is good (tongue in cheek)! I mean, you learn to live w/ the brand’s idiosyncracies and enjoy something not every other driver is driving.

      I like Fiat. I wish it well. It’s factory is located in my home state and is crucial to our economy. And it ain’t that bad! Besides, I have a thing for the underdog.

      BTW go Saints!!

  • avatar
    mtypex

    I am much more interested in the possibility of seeing PSA-Mitsubishis than Fiatslers. I think you’d have to be Lee Iacocca or Lady Gaga to care about the Fiat-Chrysler hatchbacks.

  • avatar
    threeer

    As much as I have longed to see more European vehicles sold here in the States (oh, please VW…bring us an un-watered down Polo 5 door…mit Diesel und Ganggetrieb), I have to agree with most everybody else here. Small cars (even more so when sold at a premium) don’t play well on our roads. Refrigerator-bland cars such as the Camry and Accord do. Unless Chrysler wishes to become a niche player (and I suppose they could as long as they turned a profit on each vehicle sold), simply selling rebadged Fiats here won’t do much to reverse the downward spiral they continue to be on.


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