Fiat plans to cut costs and make higher profits with the new Marea D-segment sedan and station wagon range to be launched in July. Code-named Project 185, the Marea (which means tide in Italian) will replace the aging Tempra.
The Tempra has not been a huge success. By the end of 1995, only 661,406 units had been built in Italy. It was launched in 1990.
The Marea is based extensively on the Fiat Brava. It will be built in the Mirafiori plant in Turin. Annual capacity is 150,000 units.
Punto and Bravo/Brava have been able to re-establish Fiat's image (and volumes) in the biggest sectors of the European market. Outside Italy, Bravo and Brava have been successful in a segment where margins are very tight. The Marea competes in the D-segment, where margins are substantially higher. Yet production costs will not be substantially different from the Brava's.
Fiat Auto is expecting to make 500,000 units a year of the Bravo, Brava, and Marea sedan and station wagon. The cars were considered as a single project and the vehicles share many common parts.
Fiat, like many other manufacturers, is forced by competition to limit price increases to around 5 percent. Considering the higher level of equipment offered as standard, the real increase will be just 2 to 3 percent.
Styled by Fiat
Both versions of the Tempra were styled by I.De.A. Institute. The two Mareas were designed in-house by the Fiat styling center, by the same team responsible for the Bravo and Brava. The Mareas are a subtle shape compared to the boldness of Bravo and Brava, a sign that Fiat decided to play safe in a conservative market segment.
The station wagon, called Weekend, loses the heightened roof of the Tempra and features vertical rear lamps, echoing the Punto design. The lamps are housed in a gray plastic insert which continues the line of the roof rails.
The tailgate opens to the bumper line, as on the Tempra station wagon, and the lower part of the bumper folds out, giving a flat loading area.
The front fenders and the windshield are shared with the Bravo HGT, while the hood is the same as the Bravo/Brava, but with a different grille. The rear bumper is entirely new.
The sedan front and rear doors are from the Brava, with a change to the stamping of the belt line. The Marea station wagon has a new stamping for its rear doors.
The Marea's headlamps are the same as on the Bravo and Brava, while the rear lamps are new.
The interior of the Marea is an evolution of the work done with Bravo and Brava. The instrument panel and fascia are virtually unchanged, but the colors are different: two-tone gray and two-tone beige. Door panels and seats are new.
The Marea is based on the Bravo/Brava platform with a 254cm wheelbase, longer than the Tempra. It thus has some of the roominess Fiat will lose when production of the Croma is stopped this summer. Croma was launched in 1985.
Overall length of the Marea sedan is 438cm, while the station wagon is 448cm. The two cars will be 5cm wider than the Tempra at 174cm, and 2cm higher at 146cm.
Suspensions and engine range will be the same as the Bravo/Brava, including the recently launched 1.9-liter 100ps turbodiesel engine with indirect injection.
The gasoline engine range starts with an 80ps 12-valve 1.4-liter, then the 16-valve 1.6 with 103ps, the 16-valve 1.8-liter with 113ps and the 5-cylinder 20-valve 2-liter with 147ps. There will also be a Lancia K 2.4-liter 5-cylinder good for 124ps.
All these units come from the new family of modular engines built in Pratola Serra, Italy, with the exception of the 1.6 Torque, built in Mirafiori.
As for gearboxes, Marea will come standard with the new 5-speed offered on Bravo and Brava. One automatic option will be available, the Aisin 4-speed unit launched at the Turin show on the 1.6 Bravo/Brava, featuring three basic positions: Normal, Sport and Ice.