29 September 2004

The troubled Fiat group showed concepts and new production cars at Paris, aimed at attracting new buyers and boosting sales of underperforming current models.

Alfa’s pretty 147 gets a nose-job that echoes the facelifted 156’s, and the scalpel has been lightly wielded at the rear, too. The interior is upgraded and there’s a new ‘Comfort’ suspension option, standard with the new 150bhp M-jet 1.9 diesel.

The Idea 5Terre, a 4x4 version of Fiat’s new mini-MPV, was shown in concept form with cylindrical rear lights, two-tone paint, coconut floor matting and a moss-effect upper fascia. Likely to make production within two years, along with the Panda 4x4 and an SUV developed with Suzuki it will give Fiat an unrivalled range of inexpensive 4x4s. The Panda 4x4 made its debut at the show. The ride height rises 5cm over the standard car, and it gets independent rear suspension. The pricier Climbing version’s bumpers afford steeper approach and departure angles. It comes to the UK in January, as does the Panda Multijet diesel.

There’s also a light makeover for Fiat’s Stilo Multiwagon, but the faux 4x4 Uproad version with its plastic wheelarch extensions, fat rubbing strips and 17in wheels will not be sold in the UK. But a Ferrari-red, limited edition, Abarth-based Stilo Schumacher will come to the UK.

Alfa again showed its stunning 8C Competizione coupé, and as promised has now turned the prototype into a runner, powered by a 4.2-litre, 390bhp Maserati V8. Production has yet to be confirmed. Alfa is said to be considering a limited-edition run, or batch-building it annually.

Maserati’s 90th birthday has prompted a run of 180 anniversary Spyders. They share exterior and interior styling with the Coupé GranSport, but the carbonfibre roll-bar fairing is unique.

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