Though Italian car maker Fiat is a giant player in Europe it has been sadly under represented in Australia until very recently. That’s probably because the previous importer seemed to concentrate on the halo marques in the Fiat empire – Ferrari and Maserati – at the expense of the affordable models.
That situation suddenly changed midway through 2012 when Fiat’s head office took over the Australian arm of the company from its previous private importer.
As further background to this story, Fiat took control of American car maker Chrysler during the fallout from the GFC, something that has helped both car makers; Chrysler now has the capital to keep itself and Jeep operating. Fiat has picked up the American company’s expertise in SUVs.
The fastest growing of a multitude of vehicle segments in Australia is that of medium SUVs, and Fiat has thrown its Italian hat into the arena with the Freemont. Though Freemont is more people mover than SUV, the looks lean in the latter direction and we can see Aussie buyers comparing it with the big range of SUVs now on our market.
It seems there’s no better way to grab the attention of Australian buyers than with low price tags. Hence the introduction of the Fiat Freemont with a price list that starts at just $27,000 driveaway. Fiat Freemont is available in three specification level: Base, Urban and Lounge.
The entry-level ‘Base’ is far from being a stripper, it has 17-inch alloy wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone air-conditioning and keyless entry and start. Then there are automatic headlights; rear-parking sensors; an alarm system with an anti-intrusion feature; and tyre pressure monitoring system.
Interestingly, built-in booster seats for children are standard, an excellent idea for the people mover buyers. The so-called base ‘Base’ even has Fiat’s Uconnect infotainment system with a 4.3-inch touchscreen CD/MP3 and integrated telephone with voice command and Bluetooth audio streaming. There are USB and Aux inputs.
Added to the extensive features of the Freemont Base, the mid-range Fiat Freemont Urban also has a larger screen, at 8.4 inches, for its Uconnect infotainment system. It gains a DVD player; automatic temperature control in the air conditioning; six-way electronic adjustment for the drivers’ seat, a leather-wrapped gear-lever and Sunscreen glass.
The range-topping Fiat Freemont Lounge gets satellite navigation; 19-inch alloy wheels; accent-stitched leather upholstery and premium door trims; heated front seats; chromed roof bars; an Alpine audio system with a subwoofer and 368-watt amplifier.
The Fiat Freemont comes standard with a five-seat layout. A seven-seat configuration is available as an option, this includes three-zone climate control. The second row of seats can slide forward by up to 100 mm from their rear most position, giving parents easy access to children sitting in the second row. All seats, including the front passenger seat, can be folded down to create a flat load area.
Theatre-style seating in seven-seat Freemonts ensures good visibility for those travelling in the back seats. The options list includes a ‘Rear Seat Video Group’ that has a second row overhead screen and wireless headphones.
Fiat Freemont is powered by either a 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine or a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel. The 2.4-litre petrol engine produces 125 kW of power, and 220Nm of torque at 4500 rpm. The diesel has up to 125 kW, and 350 Nm between 1750 and 2500 rpm.
Both engines drive the front wheels (despite its appearance, the Freemont isn’t offered with 4WD) via either a six-speed automatic transmission when the petrol engine is fitted, or a six-speed manual with the diesel.
The complete Fiat Freemont model range is:
Base 2.4-litre petrol five-door wagon: $25,990 (automatic)
Urban 2.4-litre petrol five-door wagon: $28,300 (automatic)
Lounge 2.4-litre petrol five-door wagon: $30,300 (automatic)
Urban 2.0-litre diesel five-door wagon: $32,600 (manual)
Note: The Freemont Base is at the time of writing this also available for $27,000 driveaway.