The vehicle, introduced internationally at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year, goes on sale in South Africa this month.
The new 1.6 petrol engine will be introduced into South Africa in an Active trim level retailing for R169 900. The 1.9 JTD Dynamic will be introduced locally in the first quarter of 2005.
The New Multipla confirms all the strengths of the previous model: six comfortable seats and the compact feel of a saloon; a distinctive personality that stands out in the current motoring scenario; flexibility of application - and extraordinary versatility.
The originally styled New Multipla is Fiat's answer to the need to pack a large amount of internal space into a car only a little over 4 metres long: it is the only car in its market band to offer 3 + 3 seats combined with a roomy luggage compartment.
It is higher than segment B and C vehicles and this means the driver has great all-round vision and road presence.
Like its predecessor the New Multipla can carry up to six people in two rows of three seats, each with plenty of space and freedom to move.
Tilting the seats or removing them altogether allows the creation of a luggage compartment that extends up to 1 300 litres, while interior passenger room is more than 3 cubic metres.
The number of seats can be adapted to the number of passengers (two, three, four, five or six) so that all the remaining space can be used to carry possessions.
For example, the car could carry three passengers so that the rest of the completely flat floor can be left free for long, bulky items.
The main changes are to the front end, where the "double bubble" look has gone.
Now the headlights blend into the new grille (complete with smaller holes, a round logo and chrome detailing) and there's a new bonnet and bumpers. The bumpers are now body-coloured.
At the rear there are wraparound bumpers and new taillights combined with a generous tailgate that houses a large Fiat logo.
The side view now sees painted side skirts.
Insidethe central seats are the same size as the side seats; the fascia is cloth covered, and the controls and instruments are arranged in accordance with ergonomic precepts and the Multipla's original sense of style.
The New Multipla Active offers no fewer than 10 body colours. The 1.6-litre 16-valve engine produces 76 kW at 5 750 r/min and 144 Nmof torque developed at 4 000 r/min.
Some 85% of this pulling power can be exploited through a broad band from 2 300 to 5 800 r/min.
This translates to 170 km/h top speed in fifth gear and acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in 12.6 seconds. Fuel consumption is 8.6 litres/100 km over a combined cycle
In addition to multifunction seats (all reclining and the rear seats designed to fold up and remove) and the numerous safety devices (including ABS, Isofix attachments, front airbags) the Multipla also comes with power steering, central locking, electric front windows, manual climate control system, electric door mirrors, body-coloured bumpers, CD front loader and door remote control.
Other features include a parcel rack, rear head-restraints, 12 volt power point on the dash and boot, height-adjustable steering wheel, 15 inch wheel trims and a second generation Fiat CODE.
The driver's seat is electrically height-adjustable and the backrests of all the seats are adjustable, while the rear seats may be folded and tilted to increase the load space - or removed altogether.
To increase the luggage compartment load capacity without detracting from the comfort of rear passengers, the rear seats may be secured to the floor in two longitudinal positions 15 cm apart.
In the most forward position, the luggage compartment capacity is 540 litres. When the central seats (front and rear) are unoccupied, they may be reclined to act as an armrest, side table and oddment compartment with two cup holders.
The centre of the fascia contains a radio compartment and a small area equipped to hold coins and motorway cards. A container lower down on the driver's side can be used for keys or other small items.
And there is more, two concealed boxes under the sun blinds can be used to hold all the small items that you can never normally find anywhere to put: garage remote control, sunglasses, cigarettes, sweets etc.
Fiat Auto South Africa offers a 12-month Manufacturer Warranty, unlimited mileage and an additional 24-month Dealer Extended Warranty or up to 100 000km in total, three years on paintwork and five years on rust anti-perforation.
The new models are covered by the AA Fleetcare roadside assistance for 12 months.
Services are required at 20 000 km intervals.
Click here for road test of previous Multipla
Click here for photo gallery of New Multipla