Fiat Auto will launch four-wheel drive versions of 10 vehicles over the next two years and the Italian company is considering adding up to five more 4x4 models by 2008.

Fiat Auto will launch four-wheel drive versions of 10 vehicles over the next two years and the Italian company is considering adding up to five more 4x4 models by 2008, including one for Lancia.


CARtoday.com reported late last year that trendy all-wheel drive models, topped off by Auto Delta performance derivatives, will ensure that Alfa Romeo’s future product line-up appeals to a far bigger market. At the time, Alfa’s head of research and development, Paolo Masai, said a significant portion of Alfa Romeo’s R5,3-billion new-car budget would be spent on 4x4s.


Last year’s Geneva Show saw the début of the Kamal SUV concept. Fitted with a 184 kW 3,2-litre 24-valve V6 engine (the same powerplant used in the 156 and 147 GTA models in South Africa), the Kamal had a double wishbone suspension front and rear, six-speed Selespeed gearbox and electronic 4x4 and Torsen system with three differentials.


“We have found a way to offer 4x4 at a very competitive price for the consumer,” quoted a high-ranking Fiat Auto executive as saying on Tuesday. “We hope our new 4x4 models could offer a competitive advantage against our main competitors, which right now offer only front-wheel drive cars”.


The plan includes two SUVs and powertrain options on eight cars and minivans, including three Fiat and seven Alfa models, with potential for another three Fiats, a Lancia and another Alfa vehicle.


Few of Fiat Auto’s close rivals in mass-market segments have 4x4 models. No South Korean carmakers offer a 4x4 car, nor do European manufacturers Ford, Opel, Peugeot, Citroën and MG-Rover. VW Group offers various 4x4 cars for all its volume brands, Seat, Skoda and Volkswagen. Of the nine Japanese brands sold in Europe, only Suzuki and Subaru offer 4x4 vehicles.


The first 4x4 Fiat group vehicles will probably be launched at the Paris Motor Show and go on sale in Europe during October.