Fiat India ‘needs’ to get the utterly saucy Viaggio to India

22/04/2012 - 14:34 | ,   | Kaustubh Shinde

It should come as no surprise that Fiat engines outsell Fiat cars 1:Plenty. Fiat India’s growth story in India has been an on-and-off scenario wherein some months are exceptionally good and some are downright nasty.

Fiat ViaggioFiat Viaggio rear

There are many reasons for Fiat India’s stunted growth in India such as limited outlets, poor after sales service, lack of awareness of Fiat products. However, the biggest reason by far is the lack of products.

Walk into a Fiat showroom and you get 2 brochures – Fiat Punto and Fiat Linea – That’s it! There is also the Fiat 500 but that is not a volume product as it is a CBU import. Volkswagen India, which started its operations 4 years back, has more products to offer that Fiat which has been in India since donkeys years. In comes the Fiat Viaggio, which could be Fiat’s answer to the growing D segment market in India.

What is the Fiat Viaggio?

The Fiat Viaggio is essentially based on a Compact US Wide (CUSW) architecture, the four-door five-seater sedan shares its basic chassis with the Dodge Dart. Whereas the Dart is an aggressive muscle car design that suits the Dodge logo, the Fiat Viaggio has a gorgeous softened stance that suits the Italian brand. Viaggio means journey in Italian giving us a hint that this is a long distance cruiser.

The Viaggio has a gorgeous Italian stance highlighted by a three-slat grille and timid head lamps that give it a very sultry appearance. At the rear Dart’s ducktail spoiler stays, but the Viaggio gets unique taillights with LED technology.

What powers the Fiat Viaggio?

Fiat’s 1.4L T-Jet four-cylinder finds its home under the hood of the Viaggio. It will be offered in two state of tune  – a 120 horsepower unit and an up-rated 150 horsepower mill. A five-speed manual gearbox is standard, but Fiat’s six-speed Dual Dry Clutch Transmission will be on offer. Its easy to fit a diesel engine, but the question is which one. The 1.3-liter is way too small for this car which is bigger than the Linea. The 1.6-liter then sounds right but remember that Fiat doesn't manufacture that engine in India yet.

Great! When is it coming to India?

Not anytime soon. The Fiat Viaggio, for now, is a China specific model which will be unveiled soon at the ongoing Beijing Auto Expo. The Viaggio will be built by the Fiat-Guangzhou joint-venture in a new factory located in Changsha, China.

I know it’s a bummer that Fiat India is mum about the Viaggio’s launch in India. But cars developed for China sooner or later find their way to India and other emerging nations. Fiat India even shot us a press release talking about the Beijing unveiling for the Viaggio. We don't remember the last time Fiat India sent us a non-Indian development in a press release.

Why does Fiat need the Viaggio in India?

Fiat India needs to expand its portfolio of cars. The knowledge is that Fiat India is developing a small car specifically for India but it is still a long time for the product to be launched. The Fiat Viaggio makes perfect sense for India. It would be a brave move if Fiat India plonks the 2.0L Multijet in the Viaggio that comes to India owing to a growing demand for diesels in India. They would have offered the power quotient of a Cruze and a style quotient of the Elantra or Fluence.

The D segment is witnessing an exceptional growth rate in India. Moreover, D segment cars are ‘brand builders’ which set the tone for rest of the product portfolio. Thus, if Fiat India plans to bring the Viaggio in India, it can kill two birds with one stone.

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