Fiat at the Johannesburg International Motor Show

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Fiat Punto 2012, 500 Matt Black and Qubo

Fiat returns to the Johannesburg International Show in Hall 7 with a highly original stand that is clean and high-tech while at the same time featuring a number of organically-shaped elements, alluding to the company’s green credentials.

Predominantly white to reflect the purity of vision that is Fiat of the 21st Century, this cool crispness is punctuated by splashes of ruby red courtesy of the Fiat logo which is a poignant reminder of the historical roots of this iconic marquee.

Against this stunning backdrop, visitors can discover a world of emotion, imagination and style, all packed with technological innovation, Italian panache and respect for the environment.

Nothing embodies this ethos better than the all-new Fiat Punto 2012. Fresh from its European debut, the new Punto Model Year 2012 makes its first official appearance at this year’s Johannesburg International Motor Show. It will go on sale at the beginning of next year across Europe and yes, South Africa, too.

Fiat has passed an evolutionary wand over the Punto 2012 to intensify the sporty personality of this compact hatch with a number of aesthetic and technological mods, while at the same time substantially upgrading the quality of the interior materials.

The newcomer is distinguished by an all-new front and rear end featuring new light clusters and directional indicators; not to mention the eye-catching design of the new 15” alloy rims and a new range of metallic bodywork colours.

Move indoors, though, and you’ll see that this is where most of the fettling has taken place – a brand-new dash design with soft-touch plastics and deep-dished instrumentation teamed with new fabrics and dashboard inserts emphasize its elegance and premium positioning. On-board innovations such as the Blue&Me hands-free communication system and My Port system offering dashboard integrated SatNav in conjunction with TomTom, will be on offer.

Under the bonnet, the Punto range will for the first time in South Africa receive the acclaimed MultiAir technology – this will feature on both the normally-aspirated as well as the turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engine. The radical 900cc two-cylinder TwinAir version is currently under evaluation for the local market but will not be available at launch.

Flanking the Punto 2012 on the Johannesburg ‘catwalk’ is the Fiat 500 Matt Black. A special series version of this modern classic, the 500 Matt Black provides further confirmation of the infinite possibilities that this ultra-chic city car can offer.

The Matt Black name reinforces the character of this car: elegant, mysterious and just a teeny bit daring. The 500 Matt Black is the first vehicle in this segment to offer the special paint and is one of several exciting Fiat 500 special editions being introduced.

As it’s based on the 73,5 kW 1.4 Sport specification, the newcomer gets the full Monty treatment when it comes to spec and features the following over and above the 500 1.4 Lounge:

  • Individual matt black paint finish
  • Mouldings, door handles, door mirrors and plate holder in metallic effect
  • 16-inch alloy wheels in matt black with red coach line
  • Red brake calipers
  • Special overlay carpet mats

The spotlight will also be on another Fiat model that has never been shown in South Africa before – the new ‘multispace’ Qubo. While not a definite for South Africa just yet, Fiat Group Automobiles SA is currently considering the viability of bringing this vehicle to market locally – a big part of this decision hinges on its reception at JIMS.

The Qubo transcends the MPV concept to embrace the idea of a ‘free space’ vehicle, capable of satisfying various transport needs, due to its distinctive personality and a practicality and versatility that are unique in its category: the Qubo is a very practical vehicle for families, but it is also a car for young people, and customers seeking an entertaining drive.

In other words, with this car you can do whatever you like, just as you would expect from a multi-purpose vehicle: as handy as a city car, and as spacious and comfortable as an MPV. Indeed, the Qubo offers, at an affordable price, the same versatility as an MPV but with more compact external dimensions – it is 3.959 metres long, 1.735 metres high and 1.716 metres wide – and its turning circle is less than 10 metres.

The Fiat Qubo’s original, rational exterior style stands out due to special treatments on the side and rear that give it a sophisticated look. Likewise, the beefy, sturdy front does not detract from the general non-conformist and likeable impression that is the model’s trademark. The model’s look of a substantial vehicle with its wheels firmly on the ground is offset by clear, fluid lines that give it a dynamic edge.

The new Qubo really comes into its own as a unique car in its segment when you take a look inside. The original ‘free space’ concept combines six different seat configurations with a practical, regularly shaped interior.

The result is a functional interior, with exceptional flexibility and use of space. For example, with the seats in normal position, the boot offers 330 litres of space (up to the parcel rack) and 650 litres if measured up to the roof. With the rear seats removed, the capacity increases to 2,500 litres. Of course, the Qubo’s big drawcard are the twin sliding rear doors which makes it the most versatile people carrier of all.

The Qubo comes with a variety of powertrains, but the engine that would most likely do duty locally should the Qubo be introduced, is the reliable 73 bhp / 55 kW petrol-driven 1.4 version. It offers outstanding driving satisfaction, optimum performance and low running costs, as well as great reliability and respect for the environment. When coupled with a manual 5-speed gearbox, this powerplant is capable of thrifty fuel consumption – over a combined cycle it returns just 7.0L/100km.

Although the Fiat Qubo offers a simple range, everyone can still find the ideal vehicle for their lifestyle and the way they use their car. Also available as a 5-seater, the car comes in two specification levels (Active and Dynamic).

Active is more basic and informal whereas Dynamic is more comprehensive with a longer list of equipment. Nine body colours and two types of trim are available.

The vehicle also offers impressive features, depending on the market and version. For example, as far as safety is concerned, the vehicle offers ABS with EBD, 3 point seatbelts with pretensioner and load limiting device, hydraulic power steering, and front and side airbags.

Customers can personalise their Fiat Qubo by choosing freely between the numerous options available: 16” alloy wheels, aluminium longitudinal roof rails, air-conditioning, leather steering wheel and gearstick, Blue&Me system, steering wheel controls, door deadlock, and parking sensors.