March 3, 2011
Several months ago, Fiat chief executive Sergio Marchionne announced that Fiat and Chrysler would soon begin sharing platforms in an effort to cut costs and globalize both brands’ product portfolios. Released at this week’s Geneva Auto Show is the first such platform swap: the 2012 Fiat Freemont.
If you think the Freemont looks familiar, that’s probably because you recognize its Chrysler twin, the Dodge Journey. Except for a unique grille and wheels, the Freemont shares most of its exterior panels with the Journey, which has been on sale in the U.S. since 2009. But the two crossovers will have some key differences underneath their lookalike exteriors.
Most importantly, the Freemont will offer Fiat’s fuel-sipping MultiJet diesel engines, unavailable on the Journey. According to Fiat, the Freemont will initially be available only in front-wheel drive, with a 140- or 170-horsepower 2.0-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder engine mated to a manual transmission. All-wheel drive will soon follow, as will Chrysler’s potent “Pentastar” 3.6-liter V6, producing 276 horsepower in the Freemont.
Although it’s unlikely that the the Mexican-built Freemont will be sold in the U.S.A. due to its similarity to the Journey, European sales of the seven-seater will begin sometime in the second half of 2011, with two trim levels offered. Standard features on both trims include seven seats, three-zone automatic climate control, remote keyless entry, and cruise control, while the more upscale model will add alloy wheels, Bluetooth, and rear parking sensors.
Looking for something a bit flashier from Italy’s largest automaker? Geneva also played host to the debut of Fiat’s pint-sized 500 Coupe Zagato, a sleeker version of its small 500 hatchback. While the 500 Coupe is still technically a hatch, Italian design house Zagato has reworked its entire rear end, giving it a sporty, fastback appearance.
According to Fiat, the small hatch was designed for a “young and dynamic male target,” and features a groundbreaking 105-horsepower two-cylinder powerplant, dubbed the “TwinAir” engine by Fiat. Unfortunately, Fiat says the 500 Coupe Zagato is just a concept – and it’s unlikely the States would see the spicy, pocket-sized Fiat even if it was headed for production. But concept or not, it’s a fun new take on the small hatchback.
JEFFREY ARCHER is fortunate to have turned a passion for cars into a career. His wide-ranging automotive experience includes work for automakers and dealers in addition to covering the news. When not writing, he spends his time searching for unique cars on AutoTrader.com.