Fresh Fiat plans, and another change of mind from the Italian maker as it looks to consolidate its position in Europe.
Having lately told us that it would make only the Panda and a family of models using the 500 name – the 500 itself, the 500L crossover and the imminent 500X SUV – and that the Punto supermini and the barely-alive Bravo would go unreplaced, boss Sergio Marchionne’s new five-year strategy now envisages follow-ups for both cars. Forget flip-flopping decisions; from a Fiat-loving sentimentalist’s viewpoint this is great news.
It’s history, and in car business terms ancient history at that, but Fiat was the company that defined the supermini segment in which the Punto competes, and did much to shape the cars in the class above it now so dominated by the Golf. Back in 1969, Turin launched the hugely successful front-drive 128, and though that car was a saloon, its mechanical format defined the Golf generation along with the earlier Autobianchi Primula and Simca 1100 hatchbacks that the company also had a hand in.
A couple of years later came Fiat’s 1971 127, and although this too had a boot it shortly after became a hatchback. Every supermini on the road today owes a conceptual debt to that Dante Giacosa-designed 127.