Fiat, Alfa Romeo, and Jeep re-launch in Ireland

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Fiat, Alfa Romeo, And Jeep Re-Launch In Ireland Fiat, Alfa Romeo, And Jeep Re-Launch In Ireland
The new Alfa Romeo Tonale is a mid-size premium crossover that’s designed to compete with the likes of the BMW X1 and the Audi Q3, and should arrive in the next few weeks with a starting price of around €45,000.
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Neil Briscoe

Gowan Group, which took on the mantle of importer for Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Jeep late in 2021, has let its new Italian-American brands lie somewhat fallow for the past twelve months. That was a calculated risk, waiting for key new models to arrive before setting out a new stall.

Now, that stall is set and while we’ve already seen soft arrivals for the likes of the fully-electric Fiat 500e and the new plug-in hybrid version of the Jeep Compass, the big news is that Alfa Romeo is now back. Again. Again, again.

Let’s face it, Alfa Romeo has had more revivals than Madonna at this point, each one full of promise and promises. Will it be different this time around? There is confidence, certainly on the Irish side of the operation, that funding and new model arrivals from the broader Stellantis Group (which encompasses Peugeot, Citroën, Opel, DS, Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Jeep, Maserati, Abarth, Lancia and more) will underpin a true renaissance for the classic Italian brand.

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Crucially, this time around Alfa Romeo is relaunching with a model that Irish customers might actually want to buy. The new Tonale is a mid-size premium crossover that’s designed to compete with the likes of the BMW X1 and the Audi Q3, and should arrive in the next few weeks with a starting price of around €45,000.

At first, the Tonale will come with a 1.5-litre, 160hp mild-hybrid petrol engine, but will be available shortly after that with a plug-in hybrid model. It’s certainly handsome enough to pass muster, and the cabin looks and feels suitably premium to compete with BMW and Audi, but will Irish buyers be moved enough to switch to an Italian allegiance?

“We need to re-ignite interest in the brand” John Saunders, head of Gowan’s Italian brands told The Irish Times. “Alfa has kind of been forgotten about in Ireland, but we’ve been in the Irish motor trade for 55 years, so all of that experience, all of that customer service knowledge will be brought to bear. We’ve had amazing interest in the return of these brands.”

Critically, Gowan Group is appointing new dealers for these brands, bolstering a Fiat dealer network that had shrunk to unsustainable proportions in recent years. The first three new dealers will be Fitzpatricks of Kildare, which will take on Fiat, Fiat Professional vans, and Jeep; Autobolands in Cork, which will take on Fiat, Fiat Professional, Jeep, and Alfa Romeo; and Dooley’s of Carlow, which will take on Fiat, Fiat Professional, and Jeep.

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Saunders also said that the company will act with caution when it comes to promising customers when cars are going to arrive, citing the continuing supply chain disruption around the world, but the expectation is that Alfa Romeo production, at least, will be relatively buoyant and the first customer cars should start to land in Ireland from late January onwards.

Beyond that, Alfa Romeo is on a march to become an all-electric brand. Towards the back end of next year, it will launch its first all-electric model, which will be a compact crossover, platform sharing with the Peugeot e-2008 and the Opel Mokka-e. That will be the starting gun for a mad Alfa dash towards electric power, culminating in becoming a fully-electric brand by 2027.

Jeep's electric trail

Jeep too is on the electric trail (literally, if you count that brand’s off-roading prowess). The first taste of that will be the new Jeep Avenger compact electric model, which will arrive here in the summer of next year.

It too shares a platform with the e-2008 and Mokka-e, and will have a one-charge range of around 400km. Plug-in hybrid and mild-hybrid versions will eventually arrive, too. It will be followed late next year by the rather handsome new Grand Cherokee, which will come only as a plug-in hybrid and which will be a rival to the likes of the new Range Rover Sport and the BMW X4 plug-in hybrids.

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In 2024, the Jeep story will become much more interesting. That year will see the start of sales of the new Wagoneer S, an all-electric model based on Stellantis’ new STLA platform, which promises a one-charge range of as much as 700km, and the potential for explosive 600hp performance.

The Wagoneer S will be a sleek, low-slung model but it will be joined by a more upright, more rugged Rubicon model, which will be to all intents and purposes a Wrangler replacement. That will get the same long-range electric STLA platform, but will come with outdoors-y options such as a removable roof, windows, and even doors.

For all their upright style, Jeep is promising that these cars will be environmentally friendly in more ways than merely being electric — the Avenger and Rubicon come with bumpers which are not painted, but dyed at the point of construction, minimising the use of paint and making them last longer, thanks to being less susceptible to knocks and grazes.

Future Fiats

Fiat isn’t being forgotten about. The electric 500e has had a relatively successful year, finding 170 homes in Ireland in spite of not having been available for the critical Q1 sales.

A new Fiat 600 will launch in late 2023. Think of that as a bigger version of the 500e, with five-doors and greater practicality but the same charming styling.

Next up after that will be the new Topolino city runabout, which will basically be a badge-engineered version of Citroen’s Ami.

In 2025, we should see the new Fiat 500x, which will grow from its current compact size to more of a family-friendly crossover. As with the mechanically-related Jeep Avenger, expect to see mild-hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and fully-electric versions of this car.

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