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Opinion

"Fiat’s had more false dawns than the England football team"

We’ve been teased by the prospect of future Fiats before, only to find another 500 variant, says Steve Fowler

I often refer to Fiat as the 500 Car Company. Log on to the company’s website, and of the nine bodystyles on offer, five of them wear the 500’s friendly face. When it comes to Fiat’s sales, 500s account for the vast majority, with the new 500X set to increase that even more.

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This week’s revelation that the long-awaited roadster the Fiat Group has been developing with Mazda will wear a Fiat badge (first it was rumoured to be an Alfa, then an Abarth...) is a sign of expansion beyond the 500.

Likely to be called 124 Spider, after the famous sports car of the sixties and seventies, the roadster will be followed by a new Golf and Focus rival – a global sector in all its forms (hatch, saloon, estate) that’s difficult to ignore for any car company.

Insiders say that next up will be a Punto replacement – another big-selling segment – but plans to expand the Panda range with a bigger Qashqai-rivalling model have been delayed. That’s a shame, as for me it’s the more innovative models like the 500 and Panda that have helped to put Fiat back on the map. Recent history has shown it doesn’t do mainstream well.

But as those Panda ‘Qashqai’ rumours prove, we’ve been teased by the prospect of future Fiats over and over – only to find another 500 variant finding its way into the showroom. Fiat’s had more false dawns than the English football team, so let’s hope the 124 Spider really is the start of a Fiat renaissance we can get excited about.

At least Fiat’s dealers are showing signs of improvement – up four places in last year’s Driver Power survey.

This year’s survey closes soon, so click here to have your say on your car and your dealer.

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