This might not make that much sense to you, but in Europe people are eagerly waiting for the new Fiat Punto successor as the current third-generation model has been plodding on since 2005. (Confusingly, the second-generation model was also kept in production from 2005 to 2011 in Fiat’s Serbian plant concurrently with the third-gen.)
Well the hatch-obsessed Europeans will have to wait a bit longer, because the Brazilians are first in on the act and they’ve ditched the Punto name in favour of Fiat Argo. Just unveiled in the South American country, the Argo will take over where the Punto left off (although naturally it might still be badged as a Punto outside Brazil) measuring in about the same size while improving on interior room.
With hints of the bigger Fiat Tipo in the design, the Argo is a decent-looking hatch, especially in hot HGT trim. In this sporty spec the Argo HGT produces just shy of 140 horsepower from its naturally aspirated 1.8-litre engine, which is good for a top speed of 192kph. Peak power comes in a bit late if you’re already used to modern turbocharged power delivery, at 5,750rpm in the Argo HGT, but the maximum torque figure of 190Nm is available from 3,750rpm.
The sports version comes with a five-speed manual transmission, or an optional six-speed automatic, with kit such as a 7.0in colour display, 16in wheels, body spoilers and black contrasting accents, sportier suspension calibration, and of course some obligatory red trim.
In Brazil, the locals will get the option of a special Argo GHT Series Mopar limited to 1,000 units, which come exclusively in Portofino Blue, with black exterior accents and black wheels, plus a whole bunch of Mopar accessories inside the car.
Otherwise the range kicks off with a 1.0-litre three-cylinder Argo producing 77 horsepower, with a 1.3-litre four-cylinder nestled in the middle of the line-up offering 109 horsepower. Available features include a 3.5in digital dash display, keyless entry and start, stop-start system, dynamic electric steering and a bunch of LEDs.
What’s in a name?
Fiat believes a good car name needs to be simple, and when you look at its past compact cars like the Bravo, Ritmo, and Uno, it’s a conviction the Italians seem to stick to. Whenever they are naming a new model, Fiat puts together a whole team of people to get at it, and the final list of nominees ends up being about 10 names long. For the latest car the team ended up whittling it down to Argo — in Greek mythology, Jason and the Argonauts travelled aboard a ship called Argo, which eventually also gave its name to a rather large constellation you can see in the Earth’s southern sky.