Fiat Panda To Join The Crossover Party, New Product Lines Due In 2015
The latest member of the fast-growing “ European small crossover club” will likely be the Fiat Panda, which will get a model that will grow in size, to compete against C-Segment SUVs.
The Panda crossover would fight a battle on two fronts, taking on the wildly popular Nissan Qashqai and the Skoda Yeti in the mainstream arena while also going after premium models like the Audi X1 and Audi Q3. The current Panda range, which includes an all-wheel drive version with faux-rugged cladding and a higher ride height, has won critical acclaim from European motoring journalists. The previous generation Panda 100 hot hatchback has been praised as one of the most fun drives at any price, and a new version will also join the range to enhance the range’s sporting credentials.
But the larger, crossover-style Panda will play an important role for ailing Fiat, along with the 500X crossover, which is somewhat larger than the standard 500. The 500 and the Panda will be the focal point of Fiat’s branding, as the Panda and 500 are judged to have the deepest emotional attachment with consumers. But contrary to popular reports, other model lines like the Punto, Bravo and Freemont aren’t going anywhere. All new versions are set to debut in 2015 to complement the 500 and Panda.
Marchionne didn't actually say that the Panda derivative would go after the (BMW) X1 and (Audi) Q3. Those just happen to be in the same segment in terms of size. He also didn't say (according to AutoExpress) that there would be all-new Punto, Bravo and Freemont, just that they would be "in better shape". That could mean anything from a price drop to a facelift.
Two things 1) I didn't quote him saying any of that. 2) The information in this articles corresponds with information I've discussed with people at Chrysler/Fiat.
I wonder if the Panda will be built at the same Melfi plant as the 500X and the new Jeep assuming that it will share the same platform as those vehicles. What will differentiate the Panda, from a marketing perspective, especially considering it will be expected to 'go after premium models like the Audi X1 and Audi Q3'.
Making several versions of the 500 and Panda may ruin the "emotional attachment". If Panda moves up to the C market, it's no longer a Panda.