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Fiat 500 honoured

The Fiat 500 has been honoured in the Auto Express Driver Power Survey 2017.

The iconic model, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, took silver in the Best Premium Supermini category.

The vehicle also took the silver award in the overall category, it was ranked highest in four of the judging categories for ‘Interior and Comfort’, ‘Practicality and Boot Space’, ‘Infotainment, Connectivity, and Electrics’ and ‘MPG and Running Costs’.

“We are delighted that the Fiat 500 has been honoured in this way, especially in this landmark year for the model. This award means so much as it’s based on real feedback from our customers and shows Fiat continues to produce a model which really appeals to them,” said Alejandro Noriega, head of brand at Fiat UK.

The Fiat 500 is available in New Zealand at a starting price of $19,990, plus on road costs, for a 1.2-litre 51 kW Fiat 500 Pop.  The family size Fiat 500X is available from $22,990 plus on road costs for the 103 kW Fiat 500X Pop.

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US sues Fiat Chrysler for emissions cheating

The US Justice Department has filed a lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler, accusing the car maker of illegally using software to bypass emissions testing regulations in over 104,000 diesel vehicles, namely Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge RAM trucks, sold since 2014.

Fiat Chrysler denies any wrongdoing and said on Tuesday it was disappointed that the US had filed the suit. According to Reuters, a spokesperson said the car maker would defend all allegations “it engaged in any deliberate scheme to install defeat devices to cheat U.S. emissions tests.”

The lawsuit alleges Fiat Chrysler installed ‘defeat devices’ between 2014 and 2016, which led to illegal levels of nitrogen oxide, and asks the district court to order a fix on all affected vehicles and a sales ban.

The civil case could result in a fine of up to $64,200 for each vehicle sold after November 2015, when news of the emissions scandal first broke worldwide, and $52,300 for those sold prior to this date – a total of over $6.5 billion, according to Reuters.

It’s not the first time Fiat Chrysler has found itself int he middle of an emissions scandal. In January, the EPA and the state of California filed a separate lawsuit against the car maker alleging the use of defeat devices. German transport minister Alexander Dobrindt also called for the affected vehicles to be pulled from European markets.

Both vehicles at the centre of the lawsuit are available for sale in New Zealand through certain dealers. New Zealand has no emissions standard testing or requirements for diesel vehicles, and the government currently has no plans to introduce any in the future.

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Fiat 500X launched

Fiat’s small urban SUV has arrived in New Zealand.

The 500X combines iconic Italian style with functionality and performance. The Pop features a 1.4 MultiAir2® Turbo I-4, 1,368cc, four-cylinder 103kW, 230Nm, front-wheel drive, six-speed manual transmission, rear back-up camera and key-less entry.

The Pop Star has similar features but comes with a six-speed dual dry clutch transmission.

The car was named Top Safety Pick by the United State’s Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and can come loaded with up to 70 advanced safety and security features, including seven standard air bags, forward collision warning plus, and lanesense departure warning-plus.

As the new crossover in the Fiat family, it is expected to expand the band in New Zealand by offering a unique combination of attainable Italian style and technology.

Olivier Francois, head of FIAT Brand, FCA – global says, the Fiat 500X continues to gain traction in the marketplace.

The SUV will retail from $29,990, plus dealer on-road costs.

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New Fiat arrives on NZ shores

Fiat is celebrating the 60th birthday of its original 500 in New Zealand with the launch of its new 500X crossover.

The larger 500X Pop sits on a new platform and is 700mm longer, 122mm wider and 110mm taller than the 500 ‘Bambino,’ with four doors and a wide-opening rear hatch. Rear luggage capacity expands to 1000 litres with the rear seats folded down.

The new crossover contains a 1.4-litre engine that puts out 103kW of power and 230Nm of torque, matched to a six-speed manual transmission. One step up, the 500X Pop Star contains a dual-clutch automatic transmission attached to the same engine.

The Pop Star upgrade contains a ‘Mood Selector’ drive system, where drivers can choose between three different driving modes – auto, sport and all-weather – and the vehicle will adjust the engine, brakes, steering and transmission to adjust to driving conditions.

All variants of the 500X have been given a five-star ANCAP safety rating, and contain six airbags – front, window and side. Driver assistance features include electronic stability control, ABS brakes, traction control, tyre-pressure monitoring system, and electronic brake-force distribution.

Pricing for the Fiat 500X Pop begins at $22,990 plus on road costs, and $29,990 for the Pop Star. Both models are available now at registered Fiat dealers.

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Abarth premiers new Scorpione roadster

Racing car maker Abarth will debut its new 124 Spider Scorpione at the Geneva Auto Show this week. The latest interpretation of the standard Abarth 124 Spider will also be on show.

The 124 Spider and the special-edition Scorpione has a 1.4-litre four-cylinder engine under the bonnet, delivering 125kW of power and 250Nm of torque. With a top speed of 232 km/h, the roadster reaches 0-100km/h in 6.8 seconds. Two transmission options are available – a six-speed manual transmission, and the Esseesse Sporty Sequential automatic transmission.

The suspension on the Scorpione uses a double wishbone scheme at the front and a 5-arm multilink architecture at the rear, and the setup increases stability on the corners and enhances compression braking. A specific sports calibration of the power steering system has optimized steering feedback.  

The two-door 124 Spider and Spider Scorpione contain driver assistance and safety devices, including an anti-lock brake system, electronic brake-force distribution and electronic stability control.

The Abarth 124 Spider is now available in New Zealand, with prices beginning at $52,990 for manual and $54,990 for automatic models. There’s no word yet about international distribution for the Scorpione model.

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No defeat devices found in Fiat probe

Tests carried out on Euro-5 diesel vehicles sold in Italy have found to defeat devices, according to the Italian transport ministry. A final report on the investigation was published yesterday.

The ministry investigated 18 total diesel vehicles from various manufacturers in the wake of the Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal.

“Based on the tests, no defeat devices not permitted under emissions regulations in force in the European Union were found,” the ministry said in a statement.

The final report comes after a preliminary draft, obtained by Reuters last month, showed some Fiat Chrysler vehicles were initially allowed to skip key emissions tests during the investigation.

Reuters examined the data and found three of the seven Fiat Chrysler models investigated, including the Jeep Cherokee 2.0, Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1.6 and Lancia Ypsilon 1.3, contained missing results for on-road measurement phase and the EU ‘NEDC’ lab test. All seven Fiat Chrylser models also lack data for an ‘Artemis’ test, which adjust the lab test to reflect urban driving styles.

Previous testing by French and German authorities found the Jeep Grand Cherokee emitted between 5.3 and 9.9 times the legal nitrous oxide limit. Another independent road test of a Fiat 500L, which uses the same engine as the Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1.6, found nitrous oxide levels more than 5.6 times the limit.

In January, Germany’s transport minister, Alexander Dobrindt, called for several diesel Fiat models to be pulled from the market amid suspicions they were fitted with defeat devices. The European Commission also expressed concern at the vehicles.

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