Canadians like their small cars. All of the auto manufacturers know this. It may be the only thing saving Suzuki's presence in Canada. That's why we often get first crack at smaller, cute cars like the smart and the Mini.
In other cases, the US may get a token single model while Canada gets the full line-up. Such may be the case with Fiat as they bring their new Panda MPV and their more established Punto to Canada, with no current plans to take them to the US.
Buoyed by significantly higher Canadian sales than in the US (proportionally), Fiat is looking to make a bigger push up into the Canadian market. Canadian's love of small cars, often due to their lower pricing and fuel economy, combined with a more European mindset makes Canada the perfect place to gain a strong North American foothold for the affordable Italian car company. Fiat specializes in making small cars. The company is launching a series of Fiat "studios" in both countries and Toronto's first independent Fiat dealership recently opened. Canadian showrooms will include the 500L, an all-electric Fiat 500 EV, the next-gen Abarth Punto, and the Panda MPV which is expected to be a sure seller. Until then, Fiat vehicles can be found at Chrysler dealerships.
The Fiat Panda MPV is a subcompact SUV that will be up against the Kia Soul and Suzuki's SX4, but with the added appeal of European design and a "premium" image. With a 4x4 option (not available in the Soul) the vehicle can tackle wintery back roads while still being fuel efficient enough to be an everyday car. It's sporty with good clearance, both practical and economical. Priced right and with engines comparable to those in European models, it should be a winner.
Fiat encountered only limited success when it returned to the US with it's 500 Mini car, sales were nowhere near what they expected, selling only about 20,000 units which was about a third of what they projected. They sold another 5,000 in Canada, a country with one-tenth of the population of the US.
The Panda, produced since 1980 is a European favourite. The current, third-generation model unveiled in 2011 at the Frankfurt Motor Show won Top Gear Magazine's prestigious "SUV of the Year" award in 2012. The 4x4 model was introduced in 2012 at the Paris Motor Show.
By Linda Aylesworth - autoExpert.ca