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by Karl Peskett

Fiat has today announced the introduction of its new Ritmo five door hatch.

Initially Fiat will offer four versions of the Ritmo in Australia, with additional models to arrive in 2008, including self-shifting gearbox versions. The two trim and equipment levels, Emotion and Sport, are offered with a choice of the 1.4 litre 110 kW T-Jet petrol engine and the 1.9 litre 110 kW JTD Turbo Diesel.

Standard features include electric windows and mirrors, cruise control, aircon and a decent audio system.

The Sport designation adds rear spoiler, sideskirts, climate control, sports pedals, front sports seats with lumbar adjustment of driver’s seat, leather sports steering wheel, gear lever and handbrake knobs, sports upholstery, red brake callipers and 17” alloys with 225/45 tyres.

The Sport also comes with Blue&Me which offers a hands-free system with Bluetooth™ technology. This includes steering wheel controls, instrument panel with multifunction display, MP3 audio file player from a USB port and SMS text reader.

The new Ritmo has been awarded a maximum 5-star rating for adult occupant protection in the gruelling Euro NCAP crash test programme.

The 1.4 litre T-Jet 110 kW turbocharged petrol engine, makes its debut in the Ritmo. It offers an ‘overboost’ button located on the centre console in Sport versions, and will deliver 230 Nm at 3000 rpm, endowing the Ritmo with a 0-100 kmh acceleration time of 8.2 seconds and a top speed of 208 kmh. However it will still return 7.1 l/100 km in the combined cycle and restrict CO2 emissions to just 167 g/km.

The Multijet diesel engine, a 1.9-litre turbo, will also give you 100kW, but torque is rated at 305 Nm torque delivered at just 2000 rpm, allowing acceleration from 0-100 kmh in just 9.0 seconds and a top speed of 209 km/h, whilst returning a fuel consumption of less than 5.6 litres in the combined cycle.

“Five door family hatchbacks are not renowned for flair or excitement but the Fiat Ritmo is set to change everything with fresh dynamic styling inside and out, cutting edge engines that deliver performance and economy and a chassis that is sharp, responsive and great fun” says David Stone, General Manager for Fiat Cars in Australia.

Prices start at $29,990 for the Emotion T-Jet, and top out at $36,490 for the Sport Multijet.