Fiat is planning a massive product offensive over the next three years and could re-launch the evocative Dino badge on a Lotus-derived sports car, CAR has learned. Not to be confused with the Dino of Ferrari fame, Fiat's version was all about affordable, stylish transport – and we could see the badge on a new Elise-based sports car due in three years' time.
Fiat has entered into an agreement with Lotus so that it can develop its own version of the British company’s next Elise roadster. Fiat is basically repeating what Vauxhall did with the VX220; piggybacking a highly successful sports car and developing a mildly different version.
Fiat's new Dino sports car is due in 2011
The new Fiat sports car will hit showrooms in 2011, CAR has discovered. It had been thought it would use the newly resurrected Abarth badge. However the Italian firm’s CEO Lorenzo Sistino told us: 'I think it would be great to go into the small two-seater roadster market again – and it would be brilliant if we could bring back the Dino badge, too.'
Fiat launched its first model with the Dino badge in 1966. Echoing modern platform sharing techniques, it was a convertible built around the same basic chassis as the firm’s 124 Spider.
Why is Fiat teaming up with Lotus?
To secure its long-term future, Sistino says it must open new areas of the market.
'Discovering and creating niches is our goal at the moment,' he told us. 'We want to open as many new sectors as we can because that is one very effective way of differentiating ourselves from our rivals. It also enables us to attract buyers away from other competitors.
'We are keen to enter some of the niches that currently exist because we think we possess the right knowledge and skill sets to do very well in them. At the moment we are also working on a city car that will rival the Smart.'
Click 'Next' to read more about Fiat's Fortwo rival and its other small cars
Fiat's Smart rival
This is expected to arrive in 2009 – and will be aimed squarely at the now-successful Smart Fortwo and forthcoming Toyota iQ. And Fiat has just launched a supermini-based MPV, the Qubo, that will compete against the Renault Modus when it goes on sale early in 2009.
Sistino claimed Fiat started its rejuvenation when the latest Panda was revealed in 2003. That car provided the base for the successful 500 which is soon to appeal to a whole new raft of buyers by spawning a convertible version.
But Fiat knows the value of a halo product, and it's been a few years since the Barchetta was sold in the UK. The arrival of a Lotus-designed sports car could be just what the doctor ordered...
What's not to like about a Fiat-Lotus produced sports car? Click 'Add your comment' and have your say