Unlike Mexico, that other Latin American economic juggernaut, Brazil (sorry Argentina), has not really had a lot of success exporting cars to North America. Now, that is all about to change. Picture a Dodge cross and new back-lights and there you have it. Coming soon to a dealer near you. Yes, this Fiat will be outfitted as a Dodge and sold in all fine Chrysler-Dodge stores all over America and Canada.
This will be a Fiat do Brasil’s first try at taking a bite out of America’s cherry. The only ‘Brazilian” maker that has had any real success at getting a piece of the US has been Volkswagen. There was the Brazilian Voyage that became the American Fox for instance. Or the sporty fiberglass classic Puma, with all-VW mechanicals. The Voyage, or Fox, had more than 2,000 bits and pieces changed to be road worthy in America. How many changes will be necessary for this Fiat Grand Siena-cum-Dodge to be road legal in America? At this point, it’s anybody’s guess.
As is the name. Dodge Grand Siena? Doesn’t sound very American, not to mention that most Americans will not think it’s so grand, size-wise. Also, there’s that Toyota thing that goes by that name in the US (which is weird, since it’s like a bit like if Fiat introduced the “Nagoya”). I suggest Chattanooga. American like apple pie.
The power train will not be Brazilian. Fiat doesn’t produce or source automatics in Brazil. Here, the car can be fitted with a 1.4L 8v good for just 88 ponies or a 1.6L 16v with 116 horses. This latest engine is a development of the 1.6 present in the first BMW Mini. As you’ll remember, this engine was produced in a Chrysler-BMW joint venture in Brazil. When Daimler swallowed Chrysler, the JV came under. Later, Fiat bought the factory, updated the engine and called it good. So, in America it’ll probably have the same engine-transmission combo found in the 500 and produced in Mexico.
As you try to wrap your head around the concept of a Brazilian built Dodge, I’ll tell you who Fiat, er… Chrysler, is targeting with this car. If you fancy the Nissan Versa, the new Dodge might be your number. At 4.29m (14.07 ft.) in length, a wheelbase of 2.51m (8.23 ft.), 1.7m (5.58 ft.) in width, 1.5m (4.92 ft.) tall, 1,094kg (2.411,86 lb.) and a trunk of 520L (18.36 ft.³), it is 16cm (6.3 in.) shorter, has a wheelbase a significant 9cm (3.54 in.) less long, is 1 cm (0.39 in.) wider, 1 cm (0.39 in.) shorter, 26 kg (57.32 lb.) heavier and has a trunk larger by 80 L (2.83 ft.³) than its Japanese rival. What’s good for Brazil is good for America?
The Palio, the hatch from which the Grand Siena originate,s has an interesting history. It was developed by Fiat for emerging market nations. The allegation was that the Punto was too sophisticated for the harsh conditions found in these lands. The Palio was born simpler and more robust than its European cousin. The new Dodge will then be based on this Third World wonder.