Monday, March 08, 2021

How did Fiat get it so right with the Argo?

It may seem quite pointless in Europe, but the Fiat Argo was launched in 2017 as the replacement for both the Punto and Palio in Latin America while also attempting to fill the gap left by the absence of the current generation of the Fiat Tipo in countries such as Brazil where it's made. Besides the "emerging" approach similar to how the Fiat Palio used to be positioned in markets outside Western Europe, a need to compete both in the Brazilian "popular" segment and remain somewhat attractive for customers who would be more inclined toward the next size class for which Fiat was left without a contender in Brazil after the Bravo got phased out demanded its design to not appear of a much lower cost than the larger European Tipo. Engine selection also had to include a 1.0L option for Brazil, with the 3-cylinder variant of the Global Small Engine (GSE a.k.a. FireFly) which shares the basic design features with the 4-cyl 1.3L offered as the base engine in regional export markets such as Argentina and Chile, with the top of the range featuring the E.torQ in a 1.8L variant. Fiat is often pointed out in Brazil as more "specialized" in small economy cars since it started local production in '76, not being so much of a strong contender in more prestigious segments, then it's quite understandable why it decided to concentrate efforts on this stopgap model catering to regional needs. Even though the one-size-fits-all approach may not usually be so effective when it comes to the automotive market, Fiat got it right with the Argo because it doesn't look impoverished for an entry-level model (disconsidering smaller offerings in the Brazilian Fiat range which are too compromised regarding design and interior space), while an "emerging" approach doesn't effectively prevent it from being suitable to some customers with a more conservative profile within the segment immediately above who considered a downsizing in order to adjust their budgets in the middle of some disastrous economic policies which were implemented not only in Brazil but in neighboring countries too.

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