2008 Fiat 500 AbarthEnlarge Photo
With Fiat set to take 35 percent of Chrysler for no money down, gain access to Chrysler's dealer network in the U.S., and Chrysler to gain access to the Italian automaker's competitive small car platforms and machinery, what kind of exotic Italian steel can we expect to wrap our driving gloves around?
First off, the Fiat Group - which itself faced rather dire business circumstances not long ago before placing Italian-Canadian businessman Sergio Marchionne at the helm - consists of Ferrari and Maserati, both of which have a strong U.S. presence, and brands Alfa Romeo, Abarth, Lancia, and Fiat, none of which are currently sold in the U.S. Fiat is the economy division of the group, with Abarth its sportier yet still-affordable counterpart. Lancia fits luxury trappings on Fiat platforms, and Alfa Romeo currently offers stunningly-penned designs that occupy the luxury/performance niche served by the likes of BMW.
Detroit Free Press: http://www.freep.com/article/20081026/BUSINESS01/810260378/1014/rss13Enlarge Photo
While the Fiat Group's small, miserly gasoline engines and turbodiesels would not have registered with the American market even a couple of years ago, the rapid rise of consumption-conscious Americans makes Chrysler's adoption of Fiat small-car powertrains seem like a wise direction. Even more compelling, however, are the genuinely desirable, sexy, and smart small car aesthetics and platforms that are the antithesis of Chrysler's current small-car crop.
The scribes over at Carscoop have their own wish list of cars that might land in the U.S. as a result of this merger: they pin hopes on the Fiat 500, the sport-oriented Abarth Fiat 500, the sleek Alfa Romeo 150 that they equate with the BMW 3-series, and finally the Alfa Romeo Brera and the Brera-based Spider droptop.
Alfa Romeo 159 SedanEnlarge Photo
Whether the Fiat Group chooses to simply use Chrysler dealers to peddle their brands to the American public or engages in some badge-engineering with the Pentastar remains to be seen, as all of the details are still being sorted. But the thought of sexy Alfa Romeos such as the MiTo - or at least its mechanicals and sumptuous interior - coming to the U.S. is exciting news for auto enthusiasts from Maine to Marin County.