Argo redeems Fiat Brazil, Automotive Industry News, just-auto

Argo redeems Fiat Brazil

Argo is attractively styled, targets a host of Fiat’s rivals in Brazil

Compact hatchbacks are still the preference of the majority of Brazilian car buyers despite the rising number of SUVs and crossovers on sale. Meantime two thousand seventeen is becoming known for redesigns and technology updates at a level seldom seen in the history of the local industry. The very first of the fresh hatchback breed to arrive is the Fiat Argo, of which sales have embarked already, while the fresh Volkswagen Polo will take a little longer.

The fresh Fiat compact is not a world design but the local development work done in Betim, Minas Gerais state shows strong competence. The basic architecture is from the Punto predecessor but with a higher degree of refinement.

Highlights are a very attractive appearance, the plushest interior yet from the brand, utmost care with door sealing to assure closing with a top quality feel and sound, plus convenience details such as footwell lighting.

By suggesting three engine options – one litre, three-cylinder (71/76bhp) and two four cylinder motors of 1.Three litres (99/107bhp) and 1.75 litres (133/137bhp) – and three gearbox options – five-speed manual and automated manual plus a modern six-speed epicyclic automatic – it is clear that Fiat has determined to directly oppose each competitor.

These include the Chevrolet Onix, Hyundai HB20, Ford Ka, VW Gol, Renault Sandero, Toyota Etios, Peugeot two hundred eight and Citroen C3 (in selling order last month). There are three Argo trims – Drive, Precision, HGT – with prices (with no options) ranging from BRL46,800/IS$15,200 to BRL70,600/$21,700.

The Argo thus represents a sway away from the Italian brand’s usual concept of lower prices at any cost.

So there is no more apparent cost saving through cheap linings, crude dashboard air outlets, burred plastics, poor multimedia screens (in this case, a seven inch, tablet form, high definition unit is used) or omitting Isofix child seat retainers. The only weird item is height and distance adjustment for the steering wheel in top versions but height only for the more affordable one.

More efficient headlamps and a refined audio system indicate freshly sought goals.

Interior roominess matches that of the Onix (the absolute, stand alone market leader) but with 7% more boot space of three hundred litres (Onix has two hundred eighty litres).

Spectacle was satisfying during our very first drive, especially the more powerful version. The 1.3-litre engine suffers from a lack of torque for its 1,148kg kerb weight. The one litre was not available for a launch drive so we assume low spectacle.

Cornering behaviour is exemplary albeit the HGT was fitted with the optional larger section tyres. To a driving position fairly better than other Fiats (less raked and lower steering column), prompt and progressive directional response has been added.

Yet excessive accelerator pedal travel has been carried over from other Fiats. The automatic gearbox works with no lag or shudder. Even seatback adjustment by a rotary knob is an improvement from the poverty standards of the brand.

Fiat expects to build 6,000 Argos monthly which, if added to the 9,000 Uno, Mobi and Palio combined, would give the FCA automaker ideal conditions to resume the limelight lost in the last two years of model and sales downturn.

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