European prestige

The price comes down

BRUCE NEWTON

GETTY IMAGES

All of a sudden a bunch of prestige European nameplates are looking much more affordable. The value of the Aussie dollar is playing a role, but so is ambitious new local management for car companies as diverse as Alfa Romeo, Citroen and Fiat.

Alfa, Italy’s sporting brand, now has substantial sales volume aspirations in Australia, underlined by price cuts for the Giulietta small car taking it from a choice of the heart to one of the head as well. It may take some adjusting, but the plan calls for the five-door Giulietta to become a bona fide competitor for the likes of the popular and well-regarded Mazda3 and Volkswagen Golf. There are both petrol and diesel versions of the sexy Giullietta and, importantly, an automatic dual-clutch gearbox has recently been added to the line-up.

There’s a similarly ambitious process going on at Citroen, which has lopped prices across its entire range this year, most recently lopping on-road costs from the C4 Aircross SUV. That saves potential buyers of the Mitsubishi ASX clone nearly $4000, pitching it into the heart of the booming compact market. It’s the same pragmatic story for the Fiat 500. Spunky looks and character have their fans, but cutting thousands from the pricing has the potential to attract many more.

$29,350-$39,150

Alfa Romeo Giullietta

Giullietta prices have been cut by as much as $7640. Range includes manual and auto turbo-petrol, auto turbo-diesel and QV hot hatch.

Pros: Price cuts, exterior style, ride and handling best from Alfa for ages.

Cons: Plasticy and dark interior, dual-clutch auto lurches at low speed.

www.alfaromeo.com.au

$31,990-$33,990

Citroen C4 Aircross

Mitsubishi ASX-based Aircross wagon comes as front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, with 2.0-litre petrol engine and continuously variable transmission.

Pros: “Exclusive” trim delivers high level of equipment and quality interior trim, 4x4 system adds surety on dirt.

Cons: No diesel or manual, engine a mediocre performer.

www.citroen.com.au

$18,800-$22,700

Fiat 500

Comes as a three-door hatch or “hole in the roof” cabrio with a choice of tiny-tot petrol engines.

Pros: Retro styling appeal, great for city cut, thrust and parking challenges.

Cons: Bouncy ride, lacks driving involvement.

www.fiat.com.au

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