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by Adam Lynton
The compact sedan will be crucial to the Italian automaker’s plan to expand outside Europe.
A recent report by Automotive News suggests that Fiat will be introducing the Viaggio at next month's Beijing Motor Show, and start producing the car in China in July ahead of launching the car by the end of the year. This will represent the first model from Fiat's joint venture with Guangzhou Automobile Group, and the Italian automaker's chance to grow beyond Europe where a fifth consecutive year of declining car sales is expected.
The Viaggio (Italian for 'journey') is simple a rebadged Dodge Dart, which is itself based on the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, and at 4,700mm long and 1,8630mm wide, is about the same size as a Ford Focus sedan. Locally built normally aspirated and turbocharged versions of Fiat's 1.4-liter gasoline engine will power the Viaggio in China, and will be built in Hunan Province's Changsha Economic Zone. This is where Fiat and Guangzhou Auto's new factory is based, and where the partners plan an initial annual capacity of 140,000 units, which should rise quickly to 250,000.
Automotive News, who broke the story, claims company sources expect a hatchback version of the Viaggio to be launched in China and Europe, where it would replace the Bravo compact hatch. Fiat hope to boost its Chinese sales to 300,000 by 2014, an astronomical rise from the 1,500 or so it sold last year. Photos displayed are of the 2013 Dodge Dart.