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Fiat's Chinese takeaway


The Linea, which was launched in Europe last week, is designed for the European market with smaller 1.4-litre and 1.3-litre engines and a manual transmission.

Fiat Australia spokesman, Edward Rowe, says the company is keen on the new sedan. “We have put our hand up for it, we'd like to have it here as part of our range,” he says.

But the Linea isn't likely to arrive in Australia until the end of next year.

Fiat has recently signed a deal with the Chinese group Chery Automobile to supply Fiat with 1.8-litre and 2.0-litre engines with an automatic transmission.

These drive-trains have been sourced specifically for the Linea model, which will make it more suitable for the Australian market.

It is expected to arrive for sale here some time between July and the end of next year and is expected to sit just above the Punto in price. The car is currently manufactured in a plant in Bursa, Turkey, but will also be manufactured in Brazil, India, China and Russia at a later date. But in the meantime, Fiat has confirmed two more models will join the Punto in Australia. The Bravo is next on the list, with the launch set for September.

It will be followed by the new version of the legendary Fiat 500. This will be launched and go on sale overseas at the beginning of July to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the launch of the original Bambino.

But there will be a wait until Australia gets the revived Bambino. The debut of the car Down Under isn't expected until the model makes its official launch here in March next year, although there is a possibility it could make its debut at the Australian International Motor Show in Sydney in October.

A special edition of the model was announced last month for the European market, in connection with the International Milan Furniture Fair.

Only 500 of these opening-edition models will be available, with some to be customised by the Italian designer, Cappellini.

But as these are only left-hand-drives, no limited-edition models will be offered in Australia. Rowe says Fiat initially committed itself to launching 19 new models across its brand in five years, which includes Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Lancia.