Arrivederci Palio

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After a run of 10 years and 33 000 sales, Fiat’s evergreen Palio will retire at the end of 2009. Next to Volkswagen’s Citi, the Palio has the honour of being the car with the longest lineage currently on sale in South Africa.

First introduced onto the local market in 2000, the Palio enabled Fiat to expand its product portfolio in many directions. From a company that had exclusively marketed the Uno, Fiat was now perceived as purveyor of a whole range of passenger cars as the original Palio line-up included the Weekend (station wagon) and the booted Siena sedan.

Over time, however, the Palio assumed its rightful role as an affordable, entry-level hatch in the Fiat range – its most recent incarnation being the five-door 1.2-litre Palio Active. Although the basic design has stayed the same, the Palio has benefited from ongoing improvements and refreshers, the most notable being the major facelift it underwent in 2005 which involved a complete rework of the front and rear.

Over the years too, there have been several versions and limited editions that have helped keep the Palio top of mind. These have included the Palio Go!, Palio Eco, Palio Racing and Palio Special Series. (With reference to the Palio Special Series, this was the first car in its segment in South Africa to feature Blue Tooth hands-free connectivity.)

“The Palio has been a consistent performer and has helped put Fiat on the map in South Africa. So while its passing is tinged with nostalgia, the future for the Fiat brand in this country is even more exiting.

Without wanting to give too much away, all I can say is watch this space because some great things are going to be happening in 2010. The one involves the Punto, a model that is synonymous with world class quality, safety and comfort, while the other involves our jewel in the crown – the inimitable Fiat 500,” said Oscar Rivoli, Managing Director of Fiat Group Automobiles South Africa.