Saturday, October 21, 2006

All for one...

The elegant saloon above is the new Fiat Linea, launched at the Istanbul Show. The choice of venue might give the clue that it's Not For Us. Built in the Fiat / Koc Group joint-venture factory that gives us the Doblo, the new car is a big brother to the 'world-car' Palio/Siena and is destined for Turkey, China, and South Africa. As with the Palio Weekend, the car will be sold in some EU markets, but as a supplementary offering rather than part of the mainstream Fiat range.

That's a summary of the basic facts. What excited my interest is that the car uses the platform of the Grande Punto (not joking there, Luca!) but is 4.6m long - in my money only five inches shorter than a Mondeo.

In this era of the enormous supermini, it seems wholly possible that volume car manufacturers could base their entire ranges from supermini to Mondeo class car on one platform or at least component set. VW's Passat and Golf already have far greater commonality of parts than their comparative sizes would suggest.

Of course such a strategy would restrict top end variations like petrol and diesel V6s, and pumped-up all-wheel-drive uber-sedans for the speeding policeman market, but in Europe nobody much buys these anyway. The continent's demand for the universal two-litre turbo-diesel may have peaked, but the sales success of VW's 1.4 litre petrol TSI engine suggests that engine capacities could begin to reduce.

That's one trend. The Fiat Linea may set its own. It may be a car for the developing world, but it could well point the way for the developed world's carmakers.

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