Americans just don´t like small cars. Unless of course, they are delivered in the form of small crossovers.
This segment is one of the hottest worldwide and since gasoline prices have gone up in the U.S. some potential buyers may be considering one of these small trucklets. Not only are they stingy on gas, but they also are affordable.
One brand that seems to be struggling in the U.S. is Fiat, whose line-up currently is limited to the stylish — but aging — 500X crossover introduced back in 2015 as a 2016 model-year vehicle.
However, a new small CUV that will launch in Mexico next June could be just the ticket to boost Fiat sales in the U.S.
This vehicle´s name is Pulse and may be just what the “dottore” ordered to keep Fiat from flatlining in the U.S. so, to that end, its name seems to be most appropriate.
Checking for a Pulse
The Pulse is made in Brazil, which even though it builds the Land Rover Discovery Sport and Range Rover Evoque, has a knack for producing affordable vehicles. Remember the VW Fox sold in the U.S. from 1987 to 1993?
The Pulse is based on Fiat´s MLA platform, which is already being used in the Argo hatchback that is sold in Mexico and Latin America and the Cronos sedan which sells in Latin America. It is an urban CUV, which means that while its design makes no pretense of being off-road capable, it is a stylish vehicle.
Its top-of-the-line version is called Impetus and its roof is painted on either gray or black for contrast with the body color.
Trail Rated? No
Lighting is LED front and rear, while the wheels can be up to 17 inches. It has cladding on its wheel arches, sills and the lower part of its bumpers as well as simulated skid plates. Ground clearance is 8.8 inches, while the approach angle is 20.4 degrees and the departure angle is 31.4 degrees.
It may not be Trail Rated as a Jeep, but it would be adequate for dealing with potholes, speed bumps and most curbs in city driving or even some unpaved trails or mild off road conditions.
Its suspension set up is simple, but it is expected to be responsive. It has a MacPherson strut front suspension, while the rear consists of a Torsion beam.
For Mexico, the Fiat Pulse will launch with the 1.3-liter Firefly 8 valve (2 valves per cylinder), SOHC 4-cylinder naturally aspirated engine, with 93 horsepower and 95 pound-feet of torque, either with a 5-speed manual transmission or a CVT automatic.
An upgraded 1.3-liter turbo 3-cylinder 12-valve (4 valves per cylinder) SOHC engine is under consideration for Mexico. It has 125 hp and 147.5 lb-ft torque. This may the better choice for the U.S.
It offers a 7-inch digital and reconfigurable instrument cluster and its infotainment system offers Android Auto and CarPlay and either a 8.4-inch or a 10.1-inch touchscreen.
WiFi hotspot capability and Google Assistant and Alexa virtual assistants are offered. On its center stack it offers USB A and USB charging ports and Qi Wireless charging is available.
As for safety, it has front and side airbags, stability control and Tire Pressure Monitoring. The top-of-the-line version has Driver Assistance features like Autonomous Emergency Braking, Lane-Departure Warning and Automatic High-Beam control.
In Mexico, the Fiat Pulse has the Nissan Kicks and Kia Seltos in its crosshairs, and while prices have not been revealed just yet (remember that its launch in Mexico is more than a month away), you may conclude that this B-Segment Crossover will be affordable.
Price for these competitors in the U.S. range from $19,800 to $22,340 for the Nissan Kicks and from $22,590 to $28,090 for the Kia Seltos. The Fiat Pulse is expected to be in this price neighborhood for the Mexican market or maybe even lower.
So, the new Pulse may be an interesting addition to the Fiat lineup in America, where affordable cars and SUVs appear to be increasingly few and far between. And who knows, the Pulse may be what is needed to invigorate Fiat´s pulse in the U.S.