Fiat Auto will use the Paris stage to unveil the next model in its planned wave of 4X4s as Fiat's stylish Stilo goes rugged with the "Uproad" edition of its Multi Wagon.

Fiat Auto will use the Paris stage to unveil the next model in its planned wave of 4X4s as Fiat's stylish Stilo goes rugged with the "Uproad" edition of its Multi Wagon.

The new vehicle is fitted with black side strips and reinforced bumpers to give it a SUV-feel, similar to the Rover Streetwise treatment. On the outside, its 17-inch alloy wheels set it apart from its ilk while two new metallic colours are offered.

Inside, the "Uproad" comes with a new fascia and different colours for its fabric trim.

Available in the 86 kW 1,9 JTD and 104 kW 1,9 Multijet derivatives, the Multi Wagon Uproad will be prepared for international delivery early next year.

The development and unveiling of the Stilo Uproad is well in line with Fiat Auto's plan to launch four-wheel drive versions of 10 vehicles over the next two years.

The plan includes two SUVs and powertrain options on eight cars and MPVs, including three Fiat and seven Alfa models, with the 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 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.

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.

Alfa's Kamal SUV concept was débuted at last year's Geneva Show. 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.