One car that we didn’t actually report on during the Beijing Auto Show last month was Fiat’s fantastic looking Viaggo. A while back we reported on rumors that Fiat’s forthcoming Chinese compact sedan was a facelifted Dodge Dart for the Chinese market, we weren’t entirely wrong, the facelift was a little bit more substantial than a mere badge swap, it’s largely a new car.
Fiat also announced the cars name: è²ç¿” (Fei Xiang). Now the Chinese press are taking a lot of interesting the Viaggo (è²ç¿”) ahead of its launch, the most recent reports indicate the Viaggo will hit the market in September this year with one confirmed engine: a 1.4T, although naturally aspirated units are expected to follow.
Selling the Fei Xiang under any other brand wouldn’t be a problem, but Fiat suffers from some brand damage after its pull out of the Chinese market in 2006 after the collapse of the Nanjing-Fiat joint venture where Nanjing Auto were blamed for putting too much effort into their then new MG project, and Nanjing taking flack due to its lack of investment in new models for the Chinese market. Fiat has much work to do in rebuilding consumer confidence in the Fiat brand, the Fei Xiang is the perfect step forward but the model does have strong competition. The VW Sagitar and Ford Focus are both strong models in this segment and hold some sway over the market, hopefully the Fiat Viaggio will be enough to establish a beach head before the introduction of more models.