Aug 4 2009 Steve Hughes
Fiat's 500 reasons to be cheerful
THE remarkable revival of Fiat began with the popularity of the Grande Punto, continued with the new Bravo and switched into overdrive with the euphoria surrounding the arrival of the Fiat 500 that was European Car of the Year 2008.
The company announced record profits at a time when others were stacking up record debts and there are plans for a raft of more new models.
The cute little Fiat 500 is being hailed as the ultimate city car, with prices from just £8,300.
That is for the 1.2-litre petrol model generating 69bhp, which competes against the equivalent 1.2-litre 64bhp and 79bhp Nissan Micras at £7,995 and £8,695 respectively.
At the top end of the range a highly specified version of the Fiat 500 with a larger 1.4-litre petrol engine costs from £9,505 or there is a 1.3-litre diesel version costing from £9,700.
There are three trim levels of Pop, Sport and Lounge.
Standard equipment in the entry-level Pop includes front, side and driver's knee airbags, CD and MP3 players, power steering, electric mirrors, colour-coded bumpers and chrome-plated door handles.
Sport and Lounge versions start at £9,700, while specifying a larger engine in any trim level adds £1,205.
Larger than the Fiat 500 is the Panda, which costs from just £7,095 and includes an ECO version costing £7,995 with economy of 56mpg and a CO2 rating of 119g/km.
The even larger Grande Punto range has been expanded with the 1.4 T-Jet 120 Sporting model and given an attractive five-year warranty.
The T-Jet petrol engine uses the latest turbocharging technology to maximise power and torque with relatively low emissions and fuel consumption.
Available in three and five-door versions, it is based on the range's Sporting trim level and comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, sports seats, leather steering wheel, chrome tailpipe, spoiler and side skirts, electronic stability control and half a dozen air bags.
It also features Fiat's voice-activated music and communications system, Blue & Me, developed in conjunction with Microsoft.
The 1,368cc petrol powerplant is one of a new family of turbocharged T-Jet engines that made their debut in Fiat's new Bravo range. Producing 120bhp and 152lb ft of torque, this engine gives the Grande Punto a 0-60mph acceleration time of 8.8 seconds and a top speed of 120mph with economy of 43mpg and a CO2 figure of 145g/km.
List prices are £12,755 for the three-door model and £13,355 for the five-door version.
There is also a range-topping Abarth version although Fiat says that it sells in somewhat limited numbers.
The Bravo hatch range comes with a wide choice of engines including 1.6 and 1.9-litre turbodiesel MultiJets, a 1.4-litre petrol unit developing 94bhp and a new family of 1.4-litre turbocharged T-JET petrol engines of 120 and 150bhp combining low fuel consumption with 130mph performance.