Coming soon to a friendly dealer near you (if you live in Europe) and in a couple of months to another whole set of friendly dealers (if you live in Brazil), ladies and gentlemen, the totally brand-new, super exclusive, Italianate Fiat Freemont! Never seen before at Fiat dealers. This beast is all new. Well, to Fiat buyers anyway.
According to my local paper Estado de Minas, Fiat representatives in Europe, talking to Brazilian journalists at the Geneva Autoshow, swear they have sweated out the details, giving it a whole new interior with a truly Italian vibe (interestingly though no pics of said interior were forthcoming). While at it, they continued the Italian job and decided to change the engines and offer two 2.0 diesels with outputs of 140 and 170hp, both of which developed by FPT (Fiat Powertrain Technologies, the Italian maker’s supplier of engines and transmissions). The venerable 3.5 V6 Pentastar from Chrysler will also be available for those who prefer their Italian with some American punch. News on the engines as per Brazilian enthusiast site Bestcars.com.
Though slow in America, the joining of the hip between Fiat and Chrysler is fast gaining pace in Europe. Brazil is also a “beneficiary” of this growing collaboration. At Geneva, Fiat launched the Lancia Thema and Grand Voyager (see here). Easy to spot what cars donated their lithe bodies to their Italian stablemates, no?
For Brazil, no word on pricing or engines. Here, diesels are verboten for passenger cars. That means at first probably the Chrysler’s 2.7 24v engine will continue to be the only choice. This engine powers the Dodge Journey now available in Brazil.
As Fiat has a better brand than Chrysler in Europe and (especially) in Brazil, will this be enough to get this baby rolling? In Brazil, the car is sold in two versions. The cheaper one goes for R$85,900 and the more expensive one goes for R$99,900 (at R$1.7=US$1, $50,529 and $58,765 verdinhas. )
One thing it has going for it as a Fiat is that it will be sold at Fiat dealers. The Italians have a very capillarized network in Brazil (second only to VW’s). Meanwhile, Dodge’s are sold at Mercedes dealers (a hangover from DC times), which is basically present only in larger cities. The negative? The price and competition. This bird, in Dodge guise, is rarely seen in Brazil’s cityscape. Without the stigma of an import brand (high-cost and difficult maintenance plus difficult re-sale), could this crossover (yes, in Brazil it is marketed as a crossover and not minivan) get close to the segment leaders (Chevy Captiva, Hyundai ix35, Kia Sportage among others)? That’s the Italians’ bet.