Classic Italian styling, beauty

Mabuyane Kekana

Mabuyane Kekana

The first thought that came to mind when Fiat Auto South Africa invited me to their international launch of the new Fiat Bravo was, what was wrong with the old one?

Curiosity got the better of me and so I joined nine other local motoring editors journeying to Rome.

When the car was unveiled on January 30, it was obvious why Fiat made such a fuss of the launch. The Italians had perfected everything for the unveiling. The event resembled an Olympics opening. When the star of the show, the new Bravo, finally appeared, we all nodded in approval.

The car does not look anything like a Fiat. In fact it resembles its cousins, the Alfa Romeos.

The manufacturer describes it as a perfect balance of beauty and substance. It is another milestone to update the brand's product range. This transformation period of change is symbolised by the new logo that makes its debut on the front of the new model.

State-of-the-art engineering skills, pride in its past and a renewed determination for innovation is the context in which this car was developed. The result is a beautiful, well-built Italian hatchback, which is agile, fun to drive and competitive.

The car was described by its makers as a "concrete beauty", a car that reiterates the aesthetic canons of Italian styling tradition. It was designed to give customers the substance that comes from outstanding safety and reliability, coupled with the enjoyable, sporty driving style that the world expects from an Italian car.

The ride felt just right. The quality, interior finishing and overall styling are among the best. It was a radical decision to design and produce the car in only 18 months, but the Bravo does not in any way show it took such a short time.

The new Bravo is a proud carrier of the new generation of turbo-charged T-Jet petrol engines. It has seven air bags, three-point seat-belts with pre-tensioners and load limiters, and five head-restraints.

Another safety aspect is the "pedestrian impact", taken into account when designing the chassis, to maximise absorbing this type of impact.

It also has a sophisticated electronic system to monitor the car's dynamic behaviour, such as ABS complete with EBD, ESP system and anti-slip regulation.

It will compete with the VW Golf and the Opel Astra and is scheduled to arrive in South Africa in July. The price has not yet been confirmed.