Mumbai: Fiat India is all set to launch the New Fiat 500, also called Baby Fiat a two-door five-seater car in India at a starting price of Rs13 lakh.
The Baby Fiat re entered the European market after a gap of 33 years in July last year and has since then become a big seller.
Fiat India plans to launch both Fiat 500 and the Fiat Bravo (a large and stylish hatchback) in an image building exercise in India and hopes that the cars will set the way for future launches like the Fiat Linea sedan and the Grande Punto hatchback due at dealer showrooms in September and December 2008 respectively company officials said.
The Fiat 500 comes in a choice of three engines two of which are petrol engines while the third is an advanced turbo-diesel. The diesel variant is claimed to offer a great mileage of almost 25km / litre. The petrol 1.2-litre version will sport a 69bhp engine while the 1.4- litre variant has a peppier 100bhp powerhouse under the bonnet.
Unlike the Baby Fiat of 33 years ago, which was a basic car much like the M800 or Nano, the base 1.2-litre model of the current Fiat 500 will have ABS brakes, air conditioning, power windows, locks and steering, as well as a six-speaker MP3 capable audio system and seven airbags.
With a length of 355cm Baby has extensive safety features like seven airbags including a knee-bag. Apart from this all Baby Fiat models feature the electronic stability programme - yet another luxury car feature.
All these make for an extremely safe car that has already received a five star rating in EuroNCAP tests.
In India Fiat is targeting celebrities and those wishing to make a style statement for the car.
A company spokesperson said, "We expect the Baby Fiat to be a hit with the celebrity circuit and trendsetters in the metros since they are aware of the value a genuine lifestyle statement the 500 makes."
Fiat India will bring in the car through the CBU (completely built unit) route, which effectively almost doubles its price.
The 500 comes with several engine options, and we can expect the 100 bhp 1400cc petrol as well as the 75 bhp 1300cc MultiJet diesel that's already seen in the Suzuki Swift in India.
The Fiat 500 received the coveted European Car of the Year 2008 award and has also become a big seller so much so that Fiat had to declare a one year waiting period for delivery of the car.
In the UK alone Fiat expects to sell 18,000 units of the Baby Fiat which is an impressive increase of more than 30 per cent on overall Fiat sales over last year.
Globally the car competes with BMW's retro styled Mini and Volkswagen's Beetle. Incidentally the German carmaker is planning to bring its Mini in India too priced at around Rs 20 lakh. This may make the Fiat 500 look better though for its celeb target audience, a higher price may give more snob value.
Reports coming out in European press suggest that the car's popularity is mainly due to its cute and cuddly looks. The good part is that looks are backed by a good product which gives an excellent ride quality and distinctly sporty feel to the overall driving experience.
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