Fiat Auto SA has dressed up its Palio and Siena models and introduced measures at its Rosslyn plant to increase the products’ build quality. However, are the new looks a boon or a deterrent?

Fiat Auto SA has dressed up its Palio and Siena models and introduced measures at its Rosslyn plant to increase the products’ build quality. However, are the new looks a boon or a deterrent?



According to Fiat Auto’s South African subsidiary, about 30 000 Palios and Sienas have been sold on the local market since the models were launched in conjunction with the memorable 2000 television advertising campaign about a “Palio owner” berating bystanders for remarking that his car was merely “nice”.


The local introduction of the Italdesign-styled Palio II and Siena II sees South Africa become only the second country after Brazil, which named the hatchback the nation’s Car of the Year 2004, to launch the new light cars from Fiat.


Apart from bringing the Palio and Siena’s looks in line with other products in Fiat Auto’s lineup, Giorgetto Giugaro also gave the cars more mature, sophisticated and substantial styling. But could the makeover have been a trifle too conservative, perhaps?


At the front, larger rounded headlights incorporate a tapered wrap-around effect and a scalloped lower element narrowing towards the fine grater-like grille. A small circular indicator flanked by a dipped beam lens distinguishes the new headlights.


In addition, the air intakes have a new three-element design and are lower than on the previous model.


At the rear, the Palio II gets new tail light clusters and a more chunky tailgate and rear bumper. At first glance, the Siena II’s rear end is arguably the most successful design cue of the facelift – rounding off the car with a more upmarket and modern flourish.


All models are fitted with colour-coded bumpers and newly-designed wheels. The higher-specification derivatives have body colour mirrors and side skirts and new, pull-action, door handles have been introduced across the range.


Inside, new-shape seats are trimmed in “Artiste” cloth (Palio GO!), “Bromac” fabric in the new Palio II and Siena II EL models, and “Casino” textile in the range-topping ELX specification.


In addition the dashboard is now darker in colour and new fitted premium quality carpets complete the internal renovation.


Available in a choice of three and five-door body styles, the entry-level GO! models have tinted windows, intermittent two-speed windscreen wipers, internally adjustable external mirrors, rear window, rev counter, a 12-volt power point, luggage compartment lighting and pre-wiring for radio and antenna fitment.


Additional security is provided with key-operated central locking and the Fiat CODE rolling code immobiliser.


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