In Europe Sergio Marchionne claims that the city car category no longer has a future and imposes a Punto that is pathetically approaching its 12-year career. The “visionary” boss of FCA must not have the same figures as us, since in 2016, out of the 10 best-selling cars in Europe, 5 were city cars (Clio, Polo, Fiesta, Corsa, 208). No comment let’s move on! Fortunately, in South America, Marchionne is more clairvoyant and has agreed to open her wallet full of sea urchins. Brazil is therefore seeing the arrival of a major innovation: The Fiat Argo.
Tipo as a model
It must be said that Fiat suffers in South America. The Chevrolet Sonic has taken the lead in Brazil, and the other competitors are not letting themselves be beaten (Renault Sandero, Volkswagen Gol, Ford Fiesta, Peugeot 208, etc…). Fiat is losing significant market share in one of the only regions that was still favourable to it. This is due to an outdated supply (Punto) or more in the spirit of the times (Palio).
Because yes, the new Argo is intended to replace the Punto and Palio! These first pictures are in any case rather flattering, even if we must not lose sight of the fact that this is an HGT version with a sporty presentation. But we immediately notice that the Tipo was taken as a model.
However, the Argo’s design has more refined lines than the Tipo, with the design of the taillights being an example. The wide grille, well-muscled wings and impressive headlights give the vehicle a good look. A small detail: on the tailgate, the Fiat inscription is written in giant letters, replacing the traditional logo. Pretty nice!
No technical data was provided. However, we know that the new Firefly gasoline engine will be available in 1.0L (about 75 hp) and 1.3L (about 100 hp) displacement. A larger engine, the 1.8L e.torQ, will also be available. In any case, these petrol engines also run on ethanol, due to the Brazilian market. And they can be combined with manual or automatic gearboxes.
An arrival in Europe not really planned
Fiat’s transparency in the city car category in Europe remains a mystery! How can this manufacturer, which has been offering 127, Uno and Punto cars for more than 40 years, make a name for itself today, when 10 years ago the Grande Punto was the best-selling car in its class on the European market? How can Fiat be satisfied with 62,000 Punto sold in 2016, when Renault is selling more than 300,000 Clio IVs? If there is one category in which Fiat still has full legitimacy, it is the urban women.
The explanation for this major strategic error is to be found a few years ago. The Grande Punto was presented in 2005 and was a real success thanks to a rather successful plastic. This beautiful dynamic stopped in 2009 when it became Punto Evo, with a rather failed facelift. At that time, the Punto 3 was 4 years old, and it was on that date that its replacement should have been considered. But the Fiat group was in the process of buying the American Chrysler group, and cut most of the credits for the Fiat, Lancia and Alfa-Romeo brands. As a result, some projects were frozen, postponed or even cancelled. This was the case with the “Punto 4”.
Instead, Fiat has proposed a new and simplified Punto in 2011, to make you forget the Punto Evo rout. Since then, the range has not evolved, and we are still waiting for its replacement, while all the competition has been renewed once or twice. Will the Argo arrive in Europe? Probably not, because Sergio Marchionne really seems to be dragging his feet on this. And if that were to be the case, the character would certainly not consider production in Italy, but in a country with low wage costs (Poland, or Turkey with his partner Tofas).