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Fiat Sedici compact SUV
Stylish 4x4... 4 all

Sedici SUV: well targeted to get Fiat back to the right financial tracks.

AutoPressNews,
30th December 2005.

Fiat will call it Sedici.

Logical: 4x4 = 16! And sixteen in Italian is... Sedici.

That's not all. The Italian model is the fruit of a joint development agreement signed between Suzuki, one of the best known names in light 4WD vehicles, and Fiat Auto (Fiat) in April, 2003, when Fiat Auto was still 10% owned by General Motors (*), the owner of 20% in Suzuki too.

Hence, another Suzuki version of the same compact SUV model will bear the name of SX4 (click here to see the Suzuki SX4 page). Both versions (with another one expected for Lancia) will be produced in Suzuki's European manufacturing subsidiary, Magyar Suzuki Corporation in Esztergom, Hungary.

The new model will be world-premiered and market launched next February, combining the handling features of a compact Fiat with the off-road performance of an SUV (Sport Utility Vehicle).

Within the Suzuki-Fiat industrial project, the styling of the Fiat 16 has been jointly done with Italdesign, Giorgetto Giugiaro's design Company.

The new Fiat model will be available first in two specifications (Dynamic and Emotion) with two power units (107 bhp 1.6 16v and 120 bhp 1.9 Multijet), offering a good solution for versatility, good interior space (compared to external size), fun, economy and city as well as off-road handling maneuverability.

The Suzuki - Fiat model can be front-wheel driven in basic versions, or all-wheel driven in others (to be checked according to markets and versions).

Sedici: Fiat reputation for good small to medium size cars, and Suzuki's expertise in 4WD technology.

Fiat's first presentation of the Sedici describes the 4x4 vehicle, with an all-terrain look, plus a special adaptable four wheel drive  - that allows the driver the freedom of changing from a 4x2 drive (front-wheels) to a 4x4, thus ensuring this vehicle consumes less fuel than other off-road vehicles in the same category.

Fiat wishes to play a leading role in the development of the "off-roader for all". According to the Italian car maker figures for the entire European on-road vehicle fleet, this market segment rose from a share of 1.7% in 1992 to a current level of 6%.

Back in 1992 the segment was made up of vehicles that were configured for out-and-out off-road driving but the original generation of off-road vehicles was later supplanted as a result of two events.

The first event occurred in 1994 with the arrival of the first compact SUVs combining the qualities of true 4x4 off-roaders with up-to-date and original design making them suitable for city driving.

These were followed in 1997 by deluxe off-roaders: with their wealth of equipment and extremely generous dimensions, a better suited response for demanding customers.

Both subsegments, particularly the compact SUV subsegment, are now experiencing growing interest from the public and the scenario is changing quickly. The size and features of the Fiat Sedici slot it into the compact SUV category.

Cute and tough... well, as much as cute should get tough.

Body - The versatility of the Sedici makes it ideal for everyday use: its dimensions are 411 centimetres long, 176 centimetres wide and 162 centimetres wide with a wheelbase of 250 cm. More specifically, the new Fiat model is 11 centimetres less than the average length for compact SUVs (easier to handle, particularly around town). The vehicle is also 10 centimetres lower, which is evident in its slender shape. This makes it look more like a compact saloon and makes for better performance, fuel consumption and emissions (see special pages for each of the petrol (gasoline) engine versions and the Turbo diesel ones).

External versatility with internal flexibility.

Interior space can be changed, thanks to the independently reclinable rear seats, and the load compartment can be increased from 270 to 670 litres with the rear seat fully folded.

The interior may be clad in 8 body-colours: non-metallic Red and White and the metallic shades Black, Dark grey, Light grey, Dark green, Dark blue, Light blue, Copper red and Sand.

Two  types of fabric are available for the seats: Striped Grey and Woven Grey, with available two leather-trimmed options (two).

Active safety - On the active safety front, the new vehicle braking system features ventilated front discs with a diameter of 280 millimetres and 220 millimetre drums at the rear.

It also offers the Electronic Stability Program (ESP). If the car skids, the ESP cuts in to restore directionality and ride stability. It uses sensors to detect rotation of the car body about its vertical axis (yaw speed), car lateral acceleration and the steering wheel angle set by the driver (which indicates the chosen direction). It then goes on to compare these data with parameters generated by a computer and establishes - via a complex mathematical model - whether the car is cornering within its grip limits or if the front or rear is about to skid (understeer or oversteer).

To restore the correct trajectory, it then generates a yawing movement in the opposite direction to the movement that gave rise to the instability by braking the appropriate wheel (interior or exterior) individually and reducing engine power (via the throttle).

Coherent design with clear identity.

The Electronic Stability Program is also combined with an electronically-controlled active differential plus ABS complemented by electric brakeforce distributor EBD. This divides braking action over all four wheels to prevent the rear wheels from locking and ensures a balanced car response under all conditions. The system adapts system operation to wheel grip conditions and pad efficiency. It also reduces front brake temperatures and the brake servo thrust requirement.

Passive safety - The new Sedici offers up to 6 airbags - 2 front bags, 2 sidebags and 2 curtain-bags (the latter are an option on top-of-the-range versions). Other standard features include front seat-belts with pretensioner and load limiter, three-point rear seat-belts, energy-absorbing steering wheel and ISOFIX attachment on the rear seats.

Off-road - The Fiat Sedici adopts an electronically-controlled 4x4 drive that distributes variable torque to front and rear wheels. The new on-demand 4x4 system with central differential and 3 operating modes combines the performance of an off-roader with the driving comfort of a road vehicle. Under normal conditions, the Fiat Sedici system therefore behaves like a transmission with two drive wheels (front ones) with the benefit of lower fuel consumption and lower emission levels. When road conditions decline and grip is lost, the system acts as a 4x4 transmission, automatically modulating torque distribution between the front and rear axle to increase vehicle safety (see special page about the four-wheel drive system).

Engines - Two engines are offered: a 1.6 petrol and a 1.9 turbodiesel unit, both combined with five or six speed manual gearboxes (see special page about the engines).

Equipment and options of bigger cars (see opposite column).

Range (Italian market) - The Sedici Dynamic (with Turbo Diesel) and Sedici Active (1.6 litre petrol engine) versions offer as standard (see equipment table): electric power steering, manual climate control system, radio with CD player, central locking with remote control, electric front windows, electrically-adjusted door mirrors, adjustable-height steering wheel, split rear seat (60/40) and pouch on the back of the passenger seat.

The vehicle is also fitted as standard with foglights, front airbags and sidebags for driver and passenger, ABS with EBD, Isofix fastenings, ignition key with immobiliser, Deadlock anti-theft system (a function that mechanically disconnects the interior and exterior door opening pawl and handle so that it is not possible to open the doors from inside even if the glass is broken).

The Sedici's original external equipment includes black roof rails and 16" steel wheels in a special design. The passenger compartment also offers a grey striped cloth trim.

The Sedici Emotion version adds a grey woven cloth, special interior chrome trim, leather, electrically controlled rear windows and a driver seat with manual height adjustment to the previous package plus the Deluxe Pack (automatic climate control system and leather-trimmed steering wheel with radio controls).

On the outside, the Fiat Sedici Emotion also features grey roof rails, 16" alloy wheels (205/60 R16), metal bumper protection guards, body-coloured door mirrors and exterior door handles.

Options available for these two specifications include leather seats, Easy Go, radio CD complete with pictogram navigation system, tinted rear windows and curtain-bags (see specifications 1 / 2 and equipment and options pages).

* GM Held 20 percent of Fiat auto from 2000, then 10 percent before withdrawing completely from the Italian carmaker last February, paying US$2bn to cancel the put option which gave Fiat S.p.A. the right to force GM legally to buy the rest of its car unit, Fiat Auto (the issue become subject of debate, but both parties preferred to sort out the disagreement without legal hassle, expenses and image bruises).

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