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Wednesday / 22 May 2024
HomeFeaturesThe Fiat Strada is coming back to Africa – But we can’t have it… yet

The Fiat Strada is coming back to Africa – But we can’t have it… yet

Fiat has just announced that the Strada bakkie will be relaunched in Sub-Saharan Africa, but South Africa will not be one of the lucky recipients, at least not yet.

The carmaker confirmed to TopAuto that the most recent Strada, which is currently exclusive to Brazil, will be launched in left-hand drive markets across the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa but that the tip of the continent will have to wait for the next-generation vehicle in order to receive a right-hand drive variant.

This won’t be anytime soon either, as a Stellantis representative said the next iteration of the pickup will not be coming out in 2024, putting its estimated time of arrival in South Africa well into 2025, if not much later.

An unfortunate wait

The news of the Fiat Strada’s regional launch not affecting South Africa, at least for the foreseeable future, undoubtedly comes as a major blow to the local car scene, as it is one of few vehicles that seemed primed to replace the outgoing Nissan NP200, especially since the Strada used to exist on our roads until 2012.

The NP200 is one of the country’s top-selling bakkies, in no small part owing to the fact that it is the only model still catering to the half-tonne light commercial vehicle (LCV) segment.

At a starting price of only R234,000, the Nissan serves a valuable niche as an affordable and practical set of wheels for small businesses, which is why it came as a shock to the system when the company announced it would be shutting down production of the bakkie by March 2024.

Since then, there has been a lot of speculation as to what brands and models could fill the NP200’s shoes, but so far there have been no contenders.

Renault was previously poised to introduce the Duster-based Oroch, but these plans were put on ice due to the Russia-Ukraine war, as the vehicle was meant to be produced and imported from Russia.

VW held another promising candidate with the Saviero, but just like Fiat, it confirmed that the vehicle would remain exclusive to Latin America owing to its left-hand designation.

What we are missing out on, for now

The second-generation Fiat Strada was launched in Brazil in 2020, which is bad news for South Africa since we are now waiting for the next generation.

Built at Stellantis’ plant in Betim, Minas Gerais, Brazil, the bakkie has been a big hit in its home market, selling more than 400,000 since the most recent version launched roughly three years ago.

It is sold in both single and double cab specifications, and can carry between 650 and 720kg in its load bed, depending on the model.

Power is derived from either a 1.3-litre naturally-aspirated or a 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine with 80kW/140Nm or 96kW/200Nm, respectively.

It is only available in front-wheel-drive, and gear changes are handled by either a five-speed manual or a CVT transmission.

Of course, it all sounds great for the South African market, but anyone who’s interested will have to wait patiently for the Italian automaker to bring the latest version of its bakkie to local showrooms.

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