By Ronan Glon
Monday, Mar 26th, 2012 @ 8:07 am
 
Fiat may be a late comer to the Chinese market, but in Latin America it reigns supreme. The Italian automaker's cars have topped local best-sellers lists for years, and the company has often offered market-specific models.

In order to stay competitive in one of its most lucrative global markets, Fiat has just launched a new sedan called the Grand Siena. As its name implies, it doesn't replace the existing Siena, but it compliments it as a more refined and more expensive alternative.

The Grand Siena adopts a brand new look that was jointly penned by Fiat's Centro Stile in Italy, and the styling center's Brazilian equivalent. The car's overall silhouette is reminiscent of the Siena, but it is longer, wider and taller thanks to the use of a new platform.

As a result of the new underpinnings, the Grand Siena's interior gains some much-needed room, and trunk space has increased to a class-leading 18 cubic feet. The dashboard was given a thorough makeover which gives it a more modern and less rustic look.

Fiat will offer the Grand Siena with two four-cylinder engines. The first is a 1.4-liter EVO rated at 85 horsepower, and the second is a 16-valve 1.6-liter E-torQ that makes 115 horsepower. Both engines are designed to run on alcohol, which increases their respective power outputs to 88 and 117 horsepower.

A five-speed manual transmission that spins the front wheels comes standard regardless of what engine is chosen, but customers who opt for the bigger 1.6-liter can order it with Fiat's Dualogic semiautomatic transmission.

In Brazil, the 2013 Grand Siena carries a base price of 38,710 reais, which equates to about $21,400. That is noticeably more expensive than a standard Siena, but buyers get what they pay for: the list of standard equipment includes ABS brakes and four airbags, two features not commonly found in the car's market segment.

Fiat currently has no plans to sell the Grand Siena in Europe or in the United States, but it is not out of the question to see the car debut in Russia, China or even in India in the near future.