Lancia's Future: Aurelia to Return? More markets? Fulvia by '09?

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Thread: Lancia's Future: Aurelia to Return? More markets? Fulvia by '09?

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    Lancia's Future: Aurelia to Return? More markets? Fulvia by '09?

    A lot of it is speculation but also some nuggests of truth. At the very least we can see that the lineup will expand beyond what we've currently got and will they'll be moving into new markets. I'd love for one of them to be the US, but it seems we'll be S.O.L. for now (let's hope that Alfa Romeo does well in the US market and perhaps it will prompt Lancia's return). Still interesting information. I wish I could get my hands on the interview with Car.

    SOURCE: http://www.autoblog.it/post/5746/il-...-laurelia#more

    Quote Originally Posted by AutoBlog-Italia
    [Rough Translation - I did my best]



    On the website Caradisiac.com, there were some published comments by Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne with regards to Lancia's Future, taken from an interview with English magazine CAR. With the positive trend at Fiat, it is believed that the relaunch of the "Century" marque (Lancia is 100 years old), with the objective of obtaining 300,000 sales/year by 2010.

    Lancia will be guided by the word "Italianità" - which will mean luxury, style and quality for the brand; but since Lancia will relate to Fiat (above all in terms of synergies) and Alfa Romeo and Maserati, for the moment sports activity (motorsports?) will not be a priority for now. Or better, Sergio Marchionne underlined that they cannot reach a dictated strategy on passion alone without a solid business plan: when and if things improve, its position could be different.

    The current group directing Lancia (Olivier François, Giuseppe Bonello - formerly of Maserati, and designer director Frank Stephenson of Mini and Ferrari fame) will have in the initial task of exporting the brand: right now 80% production is sold in the Italian home market, and 65% of it come from the single Ypsilon model. A single market and a single model, therefore. In 2007 there will be a "preview" to the Russian and Scandanavian markets, in 2008 meanwhile there is talk returning to right hand drive markets: Japan and the United Kingdom.

    What models will come in the immediate future? According to Car Magazine, in order and in moving from their base, there will be confirmation of the successful Ypsilon and its cousin, the monovolume Musa. Following the Delta HPE, there may be a "short" version to be sold side-by-side, we'd say a Delta three-door model, which besides making much sense without a Bravo 3-door, could also guarentee the return of an HF version.

    The Fulvia, which we may see for 2009, will have to be a coupe-cabriolet: it will be the "image" model (halo?) for the marque, and it will probably abandon the Punto/Barchetta platform the concept was based on for the larger/more expensive C-Segment Bravo mechanicals, but obviously a bit more compact for the Fulvia.

    Following would be the Thesis replacement, to be unveiled for 2009: Car Magazine assumes the return of the Aurelia name, and also of derivative versions including a GT coupé (HF, Spyder). A lot is not on the record, but the platform will be that of the current Thesis, though with numerous modifications.

    Finally the Phedra: it will lose its current lines and and be a "classic" monovolume, and will arrive in the style of the Mercedes Class R.

    It will be an interesting future for Lancia...
    "La vita è come un albero di Natale..c'è sempre qualcuno che ti rompe le palle!"

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    Re: Lancia's Future: Aurelia to Return? More markets? Fulvia by '09?

    C'est interéssant! Lancia can't come here sooner enough.

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    Re: Lancia's Future: Aurelia to Return? More markets? Fulvia by '09?

    Quote Originally Posted by DanCBJMS1988
    C'est interéssant! Lancia can't come here sooner enough.
    Hey Dan. Thanks for taking note of the thread. I have the same sentiment. I really really love the old Latin/Roman Roads names for Lancia from back in the day (I think I explained that on a previous thread, but starting in the 1950s, Lancia dropped the Greek letter designations and adopted those Roman road names). Names like Aurelia, Fulvia, Flavia, Flaminia are great. Even other names like Appia are less famous but just as "classic" in their own right (at least I think so).

    Regardless, if they are looking to create "Italianita" then I'm guessing they're going to go back to Roman road names -- and perhaps keep a few Greek names (like the Delta). But that's only a guess.

    C'est interessant! -- I'm assuming that means, "That's interesting" ? --

    In Italian it would be "C'e' interessante!" lol.

    Thanks for the lesson Dan.
    "La vita è come un albero di Natale..c'è sempre qualcuno che ti rompe le palle!"

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    Re: Lancia's Future: Aurelia to Return? More markets? Fulvia by '09?

    Those are some good news and bad. I am afraid Fiat's doing too well and is on the verge of breaking into branding schizophrenia quite like the VW Group, with a much more promising brand portfolio...

    The trouble with Alfa and Lancia is that they are both occupying quite unique market niches at the moment. Alfa somehow bridges the gap between "mainstream" and "premium" makes with a unique focus on sportiness. What I mean is that while you can buy Alfas equal in price, kit and everything else to Audis or BMWs, you can still get the base Alfa 147 for the price of a mainstream compact like the VW Golf.

    When it comes to Lancia, I believe that the Ypsilon makes even more than 65% of exports sales, as all other models have either been killed or are almost non-existent market-wise outside of Italy - save perhaps for the Musa, but that's a similar case. So, Lancia is the premium small car specialist, being able to retail very small cars at really hefty tags, the trick perhaps only one other brand can pull (MINI), but it is much less "expandable".

    The trouble with further expanding Lancia and developing Alfa is the perennial problem of positioning them against each other. Should Lancia go above the Alfa or below? Or perhaps they should be more or less "on level"? With Alfa definitely taking over the "sporty" end of the deal, it gets more possible for both brands to simply compliment each other, but what has to be avoided is unnecessary duplication, like in the case of Alfa 155, Fiat Tempra and Lancia Dedra - there was too little differentiation and the Dedra ended up effectively squeezed out of the market, which was the beginning of death of Lancia in many markets (same happened to other concurrent Lancia models, bar the Y10, later Ypsilon).

    It should also be remembered that while trying to expand the brands and their reach, Fiat should still cherish the profitable niches both of them managed to take control of. So, while striving for more model/market diveristy, Lancia should not give up any of the Ypsilon sales. And same goes for Alfa models.

    While I believe the idea of moving the three-door compact hatchback to a premium brand is worth considering, as this segment became more of a niche. When people buy compacts, they usually go for the versatility a 4/5-door offers at just a tad more, and when they are comfortable with just 3-doors, modern superminis (see Grande Punto, almost as big as the Fiat Bravo of yore) do the trick just as well, at a bit less. So, three-door compacts make sense in sporty versions for enthusiasts, which are premium.

    On the other hand, there is still the market for base three-door compacts, and it would not be a good idea to forgo it, and the competition in this segment is not only Audi A3 or Volvo C30, but also Astra GTC, Focus or Golf, which come much cheaper. And Fiat already has an entry therem the Alfa 147, which is doing quite well. The current positioning of Alfa and the 147 allows Fiat to cover both the "premium" and the more "mainstream" base, while offering a unique proposition (would you want a souped-up Ford or a genuine Alfa at the same price?)

    The bottom line is - a three-door compact Lancia Delta revival would be sweet, but there is the danger of stepping too much on Alfa's toes. As a sidenote - the Bravo platform appears to be the Stilo platform (I was trying to follow the gossip on some "FIATInsideNews" sites), and that's not good news. It is actually a rehashed old Bravo platform, which in turn is the rehashed old Tipo platform, and the general agreement among reviewers was that it was hardly sensational in the Stilo - it didn't work well stretched so much and supporting such a heavy car. On the other hand, the related version in the Alfas (much more sophisticated suspension though) was doing brilliant, so either there is some Alfa content coming to Fiat or we might be in for another handling disaster (the new Bravo is not getting any smaller).

    On the other hand, the idea to continue along the Musa line and expand into the developing "luxury people mover" (Americans - read "crossover") niche might be quite a good one. I would actually say that Lancia is the one brand that is most fit to make an R-Class competitor. I would actually rather see Lancia focus in slightly smaller/cheaper vehicles, as the R-Class seems to be hardly moving from the lots at all, not only due to its girth. That said, I am not a big fan of the Lancia HPE concept, for numerous reasons.

    1. It is inexplicably ugly.
    2. It is absolutely the wrong model to use the heritage-rich Delta name - the Delta was a fast compact car with a brilliant career in rallying, not a people mover. The original HPE was a Beta, not a Delta.
    3. The original HPE was a shooting brake (read - three-door sports/luxury "lifestyle" wagon), not a five-door people mover. So what gives?

    With Fiat keeping the six-actual-passengers-and-some-actual-trunk-space niche with the 3+3 Multipla (believe me or not, but the Multipla has its fans accross Europe), Lancia could offer a more "conventional" compact MPV, with unique Lancia heritage styling traits, going for the market currently occupied by the more expensive VW Tourans or PT Cruisers.

    Speaking of which, the idea to revive "Roman road" names makes me think of recreating the PT Cruiser concept the Lancia way - i.e. a Lancia Aprilia reborn as a compact MPV, with its height-to-width/length ratio providing for ample room, and the width of the Multipla platform serving to accommodate flared fenders rather than an extra seat in every row?



    As concerns the Aurelia revival, it seems a bit too "pie in the sky" to me, and I also think this might not be too good an idea. While the GT Aurelia Coupe is gorgeous, I believe with the current positioning Alfa should be the first to receive such models - and isn't the 8C one? It even actually looks more like the Aurelia than any other present-day Alfa...

    What I am concerned about is that Lancia's forays into the upper echelons of the luxury market territory have been largely unsuccessful over the past few decades (see the Thesis - it tanked), and I believe it should focus first on filling up the gap between the Ypsilon and the Thesis, especially now that Lybra has departed. Besides, when it comes to luxury coupes, there are both Alfa and Maserati, the latter being very underdeveloped for its potential. I see more sense in expanding Maserati downstream than Lancia upstream.

    Still, a reasonably-priced and -sized Aurelia coupe would be nice. But THIS is the original Aurelia sedan:



    Well... If I was to name one historic large Lancia SALOON that was actually a successful design, that's be the Flaminia:


    (More @ http://www.geocities.com/jeandebarsy...l?994947356450)

    Still weird and quirky, but at least not outright ugly, and has that stately portliness about it... And fintails Actually, I believe that turning the Thesis into a modern-day Flaminia would not be that hard to pull off. The Flaminia also came in various coupe and cabrio body styles, though they were quite different-looking (each built by different coachbuilder), and I could agree with Aurelia coupe being a better design. So, I would say - bring back the Aurelia coupe (perhaps on the 2700 mm Premium Epsilon floorpan?), but make the saloon a Flaminia.

    Last but not least, there's the name game. Contrary to Nick, I prefer the "letter names", and the more sporty/contemporary heritage associated with them (actually the sporty heritage = Delta, but still), as well as the fact that Lancia was more of the premium small car maker then like it is now. I could see the merits of adopting either naming convention, but I don't see the merits of mixing them - it doesn't make much more sense to me than to continue with the current hodgepodge of new names.

    So - either bring back classic historic names and models, such as Aurelia coupe, or continue with the letter tradition and bring back more contemporary classics, such as either Delta, Gamma or Beta. Or even Kappa and Zeta for that matter! In case of the former, the Ypsilon would stick out, so why not bring back Autobianchi as the small car sidekick it once was?

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    Re: Lancia's Future: Aurelia to Return? More markets? Fulvia by '09?

    Quote Originally Posted by nadepalma
    C'est interessant! -- I'm assuming that means, "That's interesting" ? --

    In Italian it would be "C'e' interessante!" lol.

    Thanks for the lesson Dan.
    That's correct, and you're welcome.

    Some of the other Francophone members here on the boards could go into detail about French, but let me give you some basics:

    Pronouns
    Je = I
    Tu = Informal version of "you", like among friends
    Il = He (or it if the object is masculine)
    Elle = She (or it if the object is feminine)
    On = Everyone in general
    Nous = We
    Vous = Formal version of "you", like talking to your parents or a new person for the first time
    Ils/Elles = They, depending on gender (if it's all girls, then it's "elles", but if it's all boys or a mixture of boys and girls, it's "ils")

    Basic verbs (one of which require the ASCII characters if you use a US keyboard)

    Être = To be

    Aller = To go
    Avoir = To have
    Faire = To do

    If you want to learn more, there are a bunch of French-language materials that are out there. Among there is Le Robert (the best French dictionary on the planet!), Bescherelle (which is a series of grammar materials, which I use for my French class), and a bunch more. Just some tidbits. If you want me to go on and on in French, go right ahead and ask me. If I can understand French, I can understand any other Latin-derived language such as Spanish and Italian.

    Getting back on topic, I'm actually mixed right now. Because of the way the Euro is right now, if FIAT wants to really make inroads in North America, they either have to import from Brazil or build from scratch. This could easily lead some credibility to an article posted on here a while back about Fiat Auto opening up a plant in Canada. If we were doing just FIAT brands alone, then I'd say that FIAT already has a toehold in the North American market with Ferrari and Maserati, both of which are boutique luxury brands that are as expensive as Christian Dior, Prada, Yves St.-Laurent, and Saks Fifth Ave. stuff. So let Ferrari and Maserati handle that. In the meantime, we have the question of what to do with not only the FIAT, Alfa Romeo, and Lancia lineups, but also if whether or not we want to resurrect the Autobianchi name. I actually agree with Bravada on this one regarding brand schizophrenia that I think actually sounds yes like VW but also like Ford. Ford NA has brand schizophrenia, no doubt about it. However, we can avoid a mess like VW and Ford NA on this one if FIAT really wants to be successful in North America whilst still trying to convince people that FIAT now is not the FIAT of old with all of its problems. The FIAT brand now can act like it currently is, so can Alfa by being above FIAT as it is now. At the same time, I think Lancia could act as a bridge between Alfa and Maserati. A lot of Lancia's product looks promising for a role like that. But then we have a problem. Lancia looks like just premium small cars, and Alfa looks like a mixture of Mazda and Volvo with a dash of the work of the Bayerische Motoren-Werke. This is just very horrible, I think. (Why Firefox doesn't allow ASCII characters is beyond me - Opera and IE do! - and yes I did say Firefox, as I'm in a pbulic computer lab.) I think Autobianchi, if we want to resurrect that marque, should occupy Lancia's position right now. Lancia, je pense, should be above Alfa as yet another bridge between mainstream and premium marques, but be above Alfa by focusing solely on being luxurious, almost like Buick's position but more more palatable. If Lancia wants to do small cars, go right ahead, but don't step on Autobianchi's toes. If Lancia wants to do sports cars, go right ahead, but don't step on Alfa's, Ferrari's and Maserati's toes. Since I would assume that many Americans, me included, and maybe even lots of Canadians, don't have an inkling of what Lancia is all about, then I'd say use a mixture of the letter and Roman road names. Lancia should at least have a mixture of Alfa, Ferrari, and Maserati parts, whilst still having its own unique parts. But c'est moi!

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    Re: Lancia's Future: Aurelia to Return? More markets? Fulvia by '09?

    Quote Originally Posted by DanCBJMS1988
    ...don't have an inkling of what Lancia is all about...
    <raises hand>
    I've recently become curious about Fiat due to the Grand Punto (et suivants). Maserati is a known name & I remember Alfa (the Graduate). But Lancia...?

    Could it supply semi&lux 'cars' to complement sport & supersport Alfas&Maseratis? (Is that even right?)
    Could they build a 190"/4800-4850mm sedan? (which I consider de rigueur for any brand in the US)
    Could they name their first intro "Italianità"?
    How about 'Sophia', 'Gina', 'Isabella', &/or 'Sabrina'?
    re: EV styling
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    Re: Lancia's Future: Aurelia to Return? More markets? Fulvia by '09?

    A pronto answer to 2b2s questions:

    Could it supply semi&lux 'cars' to complement sport & supersport Alfas&Maseratis? (Is that even right?)
    That's what it more or less does now. If you cobble Alfa, Lancia and Maserati together, you have a lineup that is more or less equivalent to e.g. Mercedes (sans the trucks), and the "division of labor" is just like you described it.

    Could they build a 190"/4800-4850mm sedan? (which I consider de rigueur for any brand in the US)
    Lancia's current flagship, the Thesis, is of that size (4880 mm exactly), and the sole Fiat's entry in this size class. The top-of-the-line Alfa, Fiat's other executive car entry, is much smaller at 4720 mm, while the Quattroporte slots much higher in terms of both price and size. So, it's the Lancia that essentially builds Fiat's answer to the likes of Mercedes-Benz E-Klasse.

    Could they name their first intro "Italianità"?
    How about 'Sophia', 'Gina', 'Isabella', &/or 'Sabrina'?
    Perhaps they could, but somehow they don't sound too well to me. It would be like naming a prestige car "Prestige", or a luxury car "Luxus" or something like that (ahem!) Both the Greek Letters and Roman Roads suggest appropriate heritage and carry enough cachet IMHO. I could agree that to people not accustomed to Lancia's at all the Roman Roads might even work better.

    I am really sorry, but the likes of "Isabella" or "Sabrina" remind me of the disasters like Borgward Isabella or Arabella, or the French Monica... Apart from Mercedes, I can't think of a successful (or actually even not spectacularly unsuccessful) car named that way...

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    Re: Lancia's Future: Aurelia to Return? More markets? Fulvia by '09?

    Monica???
    Oh yea, I forgot, someone made out with her and had his name sullied because of it. Won't mention the name because it would go against the rules.

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    Re: Lancia's Future: Aurelia to Return? More markets? Fulvia by '09?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bravada
    "A pronto answer to 2b2s questions:"

    molte grazie!

    "Lancia's current flagship, the Thesis, is of that size (4880 mm exactly), and the sole Fiat's entry in this size class. The top-of-the-line Alfa, Fiat's other executive car entry, is much smaller at 4720 mm, while the Quattroporte slots much higher in terms of both price and size. So, it's the Lancia that essentially builds Fiat's answer to the likes of Mercedes-Benz E-Klasse."

    cool. tho if this is it
    maybe the next redesign... no offense
    I really like the Lancia Sophia name! (thinks of Sophia Loren tie-in)

    "Perhaps they could, but somehow they don't sound too well to me. It would be like naming a prestige car "Prestige", or a luxury car "Luxus" or something like that (ahem!)"

    :lol:

    "I am really sorry, but the likes of "Isabella" or "Sabrina" remind me of the disasters like Borgward Isabella or Arabella, or the French Monica... "

    see - I've never heard of them...

    "Apart from Mercedes, I can't think of a successful (or actually even not spectacularly unsuccessful) car named that way..."
    Tho I have heard of - Giulia Giulietta (sp?)
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    Re: Lancia's Future: Aurelia to Return? More markets? Fulvia by '09?

    Well, OK, I give you Giulia and Giulietta - those somehow worked. Still, how about a little Arabella



    I can't find a good Borgward history in English, but it is filled of paramount examples of insufficient quality control... Here's more about the Monica.

    I admire Sophia Loren a lot, but still I don't like the idea of using women's names. I can understand resorting to that if you're Hyundai or something, and you have no heritage or pretty much anything to refer to, but in case of a brand like Lancia there are so many more better possibilities. Starting with Greek Letters and Roman Roads

    PS. I am also not a big fan of Thesis' styling, even though it has grown on me a lot since its launch. I am much more partial to the newer Lancia executives, and though I appreciate Lancia's stylists attempts to infuse more classic Lancia lines from the pre-Fiat period into the Thesis, I think the effect is quite underwhelming, especially compared to other Lancias such as Lybra or Ypsilon...
    Last edited by Bravada; 11-05-2006 at 11:47 AM.

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    Re: Lancia's Future: Aurelia to Return? More markets? Fulvia by '09?

    We've been having the first cold days here in Poland, with snow and stuff, and thanks to the cold and damp aura I have developed a condition similar to sinusitis. That means that: a) I've had quite a lot of excess time to think about Lancia b) I have taken enough drugs to be considered both stoned and paranoid at the moment

    So, here I go:

    I believe that, from a purely business point of view, Lancia should expand into sectors that are both the easiest to enter, have the most growth potential and are the most profitable. In other words, those are the people mover/MPV/minivan and SUV/crossover segments, both of which seem to be heading towards increased convergence with each other. People accross the pond seem to be willing to pay any amount of money for anything that has too much (or too little) ground clearance and looks like a pregnant flea.

    On the other hand, while both Lancia's and other manufacturers' repeated attempts to chip the German stronghold in the executive saloon market have proven more or less futile (and the market does not seem to be growing), the "outsiders" have had much more success in the SUV/crossover market, where even Hyundai or Kia can count on reasonable sales - and the margins are hefty!

    Fiat is now completely devoid of an entry in this important segment, so it would be quite wise of them to attack it ASAP. An Alfa Romeo or Maserati SUV/crossover would be even more of a disaster than a Porsche one (and don't even mention Ferrari!), but fortunately Fiat has more makes than that! As a sidenote, I believe that, building on the Sedici/SX4 alliance, a slightly rehashed Grand Vitara would make a great new Fiat Campagnola, but that would be good only against the likes of RAV4, and the Fiat brand should not try reaching any higher. So, that leaves us with Lancia.

    Lancia's current style fits the needs of a crossover/SUV-type vehicle the most of all Fiat's premium brands (see e.g. Musa), and Lancia has the unique claim to the "people moving" market in the Megagamma (see below). It has all the grace and beauty of a self-propelled hotdog stand, but it was there in 1978, yet before the Espace or Chrysler's minivan:



    To add to that, Lancia's heritage encompasses the great tradition of Integrale all-wheel drive, which would be perfect to revive in a crossover SUV vehicle!

    I believe Lancia's crossover should be the top-of-the-range model, comparable in size (and price) to the likes of Porsche Cayenne, VW Touareg and Volvo XC90, but I believe Lancia should ditch the off-road pretentions for a more "luxury monospace" looks - something between the R-Klasse and ML/GL, akin in nimbleness and grace to the fabulous Mazda CX-7. I think market will be moving that way (less off-road, more spacious/comfortable) anyway, so it is good for Lancia to lead the way. With a bit of stretching (at which Fiat is very proficient), the Thesis platform could easily serve as the basis for such a vehicle.

    As concerns the fun part, which means the name game, Megagamma might do, in case the Thesis would be replaced by a Gamma executive car, based on the same platform as the crossover. Another historic "letter" name that comes to my mind is from the original Lancia "letter period" - Lancia Lambda (the very modern, and in many ways revolutionary, 1920s Lancia that solidified Lancia's position as an automotive innovator).

    If coming back to Roman Road names was to be on the menu, I believe a mountainous one should be chosen. Unfortunately, all the transapenine roads were either already taken (Flaminia) or would not sound too good (Salaria). Then there are the three transalpine ones - Claudia Augusta, Mala and Decia. "Mal" means "bad" in French, "Decia" does not seem to work too good either, Claudia sounds like a cheap reference to Ms. Schiffer, and there was a Lancia Augusta... Perhaps Nick or somebody else can suggest something better? (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_road for a list of names).

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    Re: Lancia's Future: Aurelia to Return? More markets? Fulvia by '09?


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    Re: Lancia's Future: Aurelia to Return? More markets? Fulvia by '09?

    Hmmm... Somehow it doesn't work for me, doesn't really sound too Italian (or neither is it too Italian), and Pennines hardly qualify as mountains in my book Makes me think of either Devon or divan/diwan. Given Lancia's "lavish comfort" orientation the divan connection might have some sense, though it's Maserati that usually used the Arabic theme.

    ANYWAY, I was thinking that actually there is no need for a "mountainous" connection, as the crossover is to be much less of an off-roader than a people mover. So any name could fit (apart from those aready taken) - perhaps let's not limit ourselves to roads, but also related Ancient Roman geographic/architectural names?

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    R2-D2 Astromech Droid Bravada's Avatar
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    Re: Lancia's Future: Aurelia to Return? More markets? Fulvia by '09?

    More thinking underway, so here goes another "essay":

    Cabrios!

    Cabrios are another hot segment, at least in Europe. With the advent of folding hardtops, they capture the hearts of buyers all accross the continent, including such cabrio-unfriendly areas as Scandinavia. Not to mention they were always a hot thing in Southern Europe, where Fiat has always met with more buyer sympathy

    But, when we forget about the ultraexpensive Ferraris and Maseratis, the Fiat Group's sole affordable cabrio entry is the Alfa Spider. It's 2+(2) (meaning two actual seats and two fake ones) setup, size, looks and softtop might not be to everyone's liking, so Fiat needs to come up with more entries. I believe that premium cars such as cabrios could sell better under premium badges of Alfa and Lancia, so let's think of how Lancia's offer could be complemented.

    THE FULVIA

    First off, the Fulvia - the original Coupe:



    ...and the concept



    The original was a coupe version of Lancia's "luxury compact car", the rather stodgy and forgettable Fulvia Berlina, made during Lancia's "poor times", when the venerable automaker struggled to make end meet, and ended up selling itself to Fiat.

    The concept was based on the 1990s Fiat Barchetta 2-seater convertible, itself based on the original Fiat Punto platform. A stylish nimble, small and inexpensive spider, the Barchetta won itself many fans in Europe, insomuch that Fiat revived the model for two years (2004-2005) after the initial production run (1995-2002) finished at Maggiora. The concept was a revival coupe based on the same platform, and there was speculation whether it could go into production immediately after its 2003 presentation, effectively replacing the outgoing Barchetta.



    As we all remember, Fulvia was conceived at a time when Fiat's management were wondering how to make it through every other day, so creating a stylish niche car was obviously not one of the priorities. As time went by, the old Barchetta platform died indefinitely, and plans were made to either put the Fulvia on the new Grande Punto platform or even the bigger one that would go into the new Delta. There have also been plans to make the Fulvia a cabriocoupe, to increase its appeal.

    Obviously, the appeal of the Fulvia is in its low profile, inherited from the small Barchetta, so trying to recreate it using the underpinnings of a modern-day compact can have disastrous consequences. I believe the Fulvia should stay the size of the Barchetta, and BTW of the BMW Z4, Audi TT Roadster and Mazda MX-5, with about 4 metres in length. The ideal entry in that class would of course be the revival of the Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce (think "The Graduate" or see below), but Spider obviously evolved the other way.



    So, with a folding hardtop, classic shape, luxurious outfit and possibly affordable price, the Fulvia could become the hairdresser's car of choice, the talk of town and the "in" car of the year, making Lancia a household name accross Europe again (remember that the key to MINI's popularity lies in the fact that, despite it's so expensive, it's still so affordable). As concerns the platform, the second-gen Project 188 Punto still lives on in the Fiat Idea/Lancia Musa, and in a shortened version, in the Lancia Ypsilon (ideal wheelbase to start with). Oh, by hairdresser's car I mean being oriented on show rather than go, so it might not be a record-breaking speeder, and not carry a three-litre as the Z4, but with the punchy 1.4 turbo that is to debut in the Bravo it should make a "reasonable" proposition who want to drive an outlandish car making a down-to-earth salary.

    BTW, the concept had a very nice interior, that I could see going straight into a production car:


    (bigger and better photo)

    Let's hope Lancia sees it that way too!

    Bianchina!

    The Spider might cost a fraction of a what a Ferrari would, but you can still get an open-top from Peugeot or Nissan for one-third of the Alfa's price. And have I mentioned the open-top Smarts? So, there's a market for really small (and inexpensive) cabrios, and that's where one quirky car comes to my mind:



    The Bianchina was the first car ever made by Autobianchi, the company started by former carmaker and (until now) bicycle maker Bianchi and Fiat. Based on the legendary rear-engined 1950s Fiat 500, it served as a "luxury" version for the developing middle class, who wanted a tad of extravagance in their lifes while still being on a tight budget. It featured extravagant body styles such as the Cabrio, or Trasformabile, with a landaulet-style folding canvas roof.



    So, now that the Fiat 500 (above) is set to make a return to replace the Seicento as Fiat's smallest car, why shouldn't the Bianchina? Imagine a 500-based folding-hardtop bijou, a-la the Nissan Micra CC (AFAIK the cheapest cabrio currently available in Europe):



    Accomodating the folding roof requires stretching the rear, but that's what actually the Bianchia was - a 500 with a trunk (and numerous other modifications). I believe only one version would make sense, so why not call it Trasformabile right away? In the long run, it could also replace the Ypsilon, which is more of a city car than supermini car anyway, helping Lancia move a bit upmarket while not losing the developed customer base. It would actually be in accordance with tradition, as the Ypsilon stems from the lineage of Autobianchi A112 and Y10, sold by Lancia worldwide since the brand's incorporation into the Fiat empire:



    So, the venerable Autobianchi brand might still serve some purpose! And while we are at it, there was also the Stellina (think about a super-small and super-cheap spider based on the Panda, in case the Fulvia won't get a go):



    COMPACT CABRIOCOUPES

    Everybody has them now! First the 307 CC, then the Megane CC, and now VW Eos, Ford Focus, Opel Astra, and even the premium Volvo C70 (don't be fooled, it's on the compact Focus platform now)... Fiat should definitely have an entry in this class, but trying to create one out of the Bravo can be too much of a stretch - plus Fiat might not have the right image for one... The girth and poor body stiffness makes those cars more of image-building feel-good cruisers than sports cars, and there is the Spider, so no Alfa either. So, Lancia, here you go!

    One can of course try to make it resemble a Fulvia, at least distantly, but I can think of a car from Lancia's past more fit for that role... Wait for my next post!

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    R2-D2 Astromech Droid Bravada's Avatar
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    Re: Lancia's Future: Aurelia to Return? More markets? Fulvia by '09?

    THE LANCIA BETA

    Yes, it's the Beta, the unsung heroine of Lancia's history! Now resting in the shadows of the more gloriously remembered Delta and other modern-day "Greek letter era" Fiat-built Lancias, the Beta lasted for no less than 12 years, accounting for the bulk of Lancia sales in that period (1972-1984). It continues to enjoy a loyal fanbase worldwide, and I will argue that it is worth remembering and coming back to, even despite its reputation being shattered by poor Soviet steel and corrosion problems (a problem common to all Italian cars of that era anyway).

    The Beta was available in many different bodystyles. Although the most remembered is the Beta Montecarlo (below, sold as Lancia Scorpion in America), which was not a true Beta at all, being a rear-engined sportscar, the other are worth no less attention.



    Due to its longevity and being designed to different standards than the ones adopted by European automakers during the latter part of its life, the Beta effectively held an interesting position in the market, sitting between compact and midsize cars. Given the current market and Fiat's current lineup, this might be just what Lancia needs! The Alfa 147/149 and Bravo should take care of the standard compact market, while the Alfa 159 is a full-fledged competitor to premium Euro midsizers. But looking at the strong sales of Volvo S40/V50, which is positioned as a midsize car but effectively based on the compact Focus (and not really bigger than that), and the fact that the class-leading BMW 3 is also quite "compact" in size, there might be much sense in Lancia aiming for that market.

    So, let's have a quick look at the variety of Lancia Beta's body styles and find out how they could translate into the current marketplace. First off, let's see about the compact cabriocoupe I mentioned above. Although the Beta obviously didn't come in that bodystyle originally, there are two bodystyles that Lancia could derive inspiration from:

    The targa-topped Spider (sold in the US as Lancia Beta Zagato)..:



    ...and the classic Beta Coupe:



    The latter in a way encompasses the styling cues from the earlier Lancia Fulvia and Flavia (pictured) Coupes:



    Either of those could be reborn as the new Beta Cabriocoupe (or whatever you'd want to call it), and give all the other entries in the class a run for their money, with much nicer styling, wonderful Lancia interior and of course Lancia's panache. As concerns styling, I would have it loaded at prices higher than the standard Opels and Fords, but comparable when you add all the equipment. It could become a real hit!

    Moving on to the next interesting body style:



    What you see in the background is the Lancia Beta HPE I mentioned in one of the previous posts. The HPE was unique in the way that it was effectively a three-door station wagon (or "shooting break"). Both back in the day and now there is little if any comparable car, which doesn't mean there isn't a market for one. With all those "lifestyle wagons" gaining in popularity, and many cars driving around with no more than two people, but often with lots of "lifestyle gear", a HPE could be an interesting and unique choice.

    As mentioned above, Lancia is being said to be graced with the role of building a three-door Bravo equivalent. With the Bravo already looking overly "stretched", the unique HPE bodystyle with extended rear section looks perfect to relieve the extra length - it could even work if Lancia went for the longer Premium Epsilon platform. The HPE could go for the "premium compact" market of Audi A3 and BMW 1, offering the extra boot space over its competitors.

    Finally, there are good old "standard" Betas. Originally, the Beta started off as a unique "4-door fastback" Berlina, with a sloping rear end but with a normal bootlid (not a hatch encompassing the rear window). The merits of its styling can be disputed, but it surely was quite original-looking:




    As time went by and the Berlina started getting tired, Fiat stylists devised a quick way of refreshing the car while at the same time making it in line with the contemporary preference for saloon cars - a quick rehash of the rear part and the Lancia Beta Trevi (for tre-volumi, or three-box, but the reference to the Trevi rione of Rome was of course intended), was born:



    So, the revived Beta range could sit between the compact and midsize classes, or between the Fiat Bravo and Alfa 159, based on either Fiat Stilo platform (2600 mm), the related Lancia Lybra platform (also about 2600 mm), the outgoing Alfa 156 platform (2597 mm, AWD capable), the Premium Epsilon (2700 mm, AWD capable, but a 2525 mm version for the Spider also exists), or even the Fiat Grand Punto SCCS Gamma platform (2600 mm in the Fiat Linea), and consist of:

    * Lancia Beta Trasformabile cabriocoupe
    * Lancia Beta HPE three-door shooting break
    * Lancia Beta Berlina or Trevi - a liftback or a saloon

    How about that?

    PS. I have found a brilliant Fiat promo photo archive, where you can find first-rate current and historic model photos (I used some of them in that thread): http://www.fiatautopress.com/index.php?method=gallery (click on the logos on the left to get to the other brands).
    Last edited by Bravada; 11-05-2006 at 08:13 PM.

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