Due for launch here at the end of October, Fiat’s Multipla will for the first time be available in SA in a 1,6-litre petrol version offering much of the 1,9 diesel’s space and comfort at a lower price.

Due for launch here at the end of October, Fiat’s Multipla will for the first time be available in SA in a 1,6-litre petrol version offering much of the 1,9 diesel’s space and comfort at a lower price.

Officially unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show this year, the new 1,6 Multipla in active trim will cost R 169 900. The 1,9 JTD Dynamic will be introduced early in 2005.

The new model is equipped with a 76 kW engine which produces its maximum power at 5 750 r/min. Maximum torque of 145 N.m is developed at 4 000 r/min, though 85 per cent is available from 2 300 r/min.

Fuel consumption is estimated to be 8,6 litres per 100 km over a combined cycle.

Like its predecessor, the new Multipla is flexible too in its seating configuration. Six passengers can be seated in two rows of three seats without compromising on space and comfort since the central and side seats are the same size.

Should extra storage space be needed, the seats can be tilted or removed altogether, creating a luggage compartment that extends up to 1 300 litres.

More conservatively styled than its predecessor though, the MPV’s front end now has a headlight cluster that blends into the grille. The grille now bears the new round Fiat logo and chrome finishing.

At the rear, the wraparound bumpers and new tail lights combined with the large tailgate matches the broad surface of the rear window. The new style's profile is accentuated by the body-coloured sideskirts.

Buyers have a wide choice of metallic and non-metallic finishes to choose from. These colours range from White and Jump Blue to Bright Red, Pareo Yellow and Black. Facias are available in blue or red cloth, or blue or grey PVC.

The Multipla comes with a host of safety features and equipment: ABS, ESP, six airbags (with optional window airbags) and Isofix child seat attachments.

It also has power steering, cental locking, electric front windows and door mirrors, a CD front loader and manual climate control system. A parcel rack, two twelve-volt power points and a height-adjustable steering wheel are included.

In South Africa, the Multipla comes with a one-year warranty with unlimited mileage and an additional two-year, or up to 100 000 km, dealer extended warranty. The warranty covers paintwork for three years and rust anti-perforation for five.

Services are required at every 20 000 km.