Fiat to target Dacia buyers with new 'value' Tipo family car - as they ring the changes with 500 icon
FIAT will continue its turnaround here with the arrival of its Tipo budget small-family car -pictured right - late next summer.
I'm told it will be heavily focused on price and value with the likes of Dacia buyers among the key targets.
A senior executive told me they won't necessarily be chasing Ford Focus or Volkswagen Golf owners with the new car.
There is every possibility we will see a trio of hatch, saloon and estate - which would give the brand a major presence in the segment.
Fiat's arrival in a part of the market it hasn't really had a car in for a long time should be good news for potential buyers as it could provide an option for those who might otherwise buy a secondhand car.
The executive told me: "It will be priced as a 'value car'. It will be all about value." He did mention Dacia buyers as prime targets.
The only problem is it may come too late for the 162-reg (from July) period next year as it looks like it will arrive 'probably around August'.
But right now Fiat is concentrating on its facelifted 'iconic' 500 city car , main picture, which has a lot more changes than meet the eye.
While on the one hand Fiat was wary of revising something that has worked so well, it still managed to come up with 1,900 new components. It's a tricky one but Fiat improved it without in any way altering the look or feel.
And it remains a wonderful little drive. Even in the wind and rain on Monday, I had a great bit of fun with it around west Dublin.
I thoroughly enjoyed the 0.9-litre Twin Air petrol version (yes it is tiny but can pump 105bhp) though its 1.2-litre 69bhp stablemate is the big seller with the 1.3-litre diesel accounting for 15pc of sales - a remarkable statistic in its own right. The engines are all that bit 'greener' as well. And there are seven airbags. It is easy to forget just how much fun this car can be.
Despite the changes, the starting price is up just €50 (to €13,450).
The front and rear bear most of the exterior changes with new bumpers and light clusters. The seats have been re-designed and the centre stack has been rearranged around the audio system. The latter has the company's Uconnect infotainment system (there is a five-year subscription) but integrated TomTom satnav and DAB are options.
There are three trim levels: Pop, Pop Star and Lounge. Steering wheel-mounted audio controls and USB/Aux-in ports are standard.
You can personalise to your heart's content with all sort of connectivity options and apps.
The 500 has been a favourite even through the economic bad times so they are expecting 400 to buy one next year.
There is a PCP deal which starts at €150 a month.
And I'm sure there will be a PCP 'value' deal on the Tipo when it arrives too.