Priced to compete directly with conventional saloons and hatchbacks, the new Fiat Croma, which goes on sale in the UK on Saturday 20 August, is Fiat Auto’s unique entry into D segment, an area of the market from which one in every five cars sold in the UK, belongs.

Designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro, the new Fiat Croma blends together the benefits of a saloon car, an estate and an MPV. It sets high segment standards for build quality, interior finish, comfort, equipment levels and state-of-the-art technology, within an innovative ‘crossover’ design. The latter represents an evolution of the hatchback concept into a well weighted combination of company car and family car – with size, spaciousness and comfort at the top of the priorities list.

Fiat Auto’s distinctive new executive car thus combines the loadspace and versatility of an estate with the commanding driving position and spacious passenger accommodation of an MPV, whilst offering the superior driving dynamics of a conventional saloon. On board, the new Fiat’s singular design parameters have created an interior of high quality which offers class-leading passenger space in several areas, with particular attention paid to rear passenger accommodation, where its interior dimensions are class-leading.

Seven versions of the new Croma, priced from £15,745 – £19,345 on-the-road, will become available from launch, embracing three trim levels – Dynamic, Eleganza and Prestigio – and a choice of three Euro 4-compliant engines: an all-aluminium, twin balancer shaft, twin overhead camshaft, 2.2 litre, 147 bhp, 16-valve petrol unit, and 120 and 150 bhp versions of Fiat Auto’s widely acclaimed 1.9 litre MultiJet turbodiesel. Later this year, a new, 200 bhp, 5-cylinder, 20-valve, 2.4 litre MultiJet turbodiesel version, the most powerful engine in Fiat Auto’s common rail turbodiesel family, will join the range, and at the beginning of next year, a 140 bhp 1.8 litre petrol engine option will become available.

Petrol engines are mated to 5-speed manual transmissions, with a 5-speed, sequential shift automatic gearbox available for the 2.2 litre unit. Both 120 and 150 bhp versions of the 1.9 litre MultiJet turbodiesel are fitted with 6-speed manual transmissions, with a 6-speed sequential shift automatic gearbox available for the 16 valve unit. The powerful, 2.4 litre MultiJet engine is exclusively mated to a 6-speed, sequential shift automatic gearbox.

The new Fiat Croma’s equipment specification has been carefully considered to simplify and enhance life on board, with ABS, seven airbags, (two more are optional), remote central locking and tailgate release, electric windows throughout, air conditioning, a 6-speaker CD player, and alloy wheels fitted as standard across the entire range.

This comprehensive equipment package is further boosted by a range of innovative, safety and comfort-enhancing options, such as an electrically operated SkyDome sunroof which covers a remarkable 1.5m2, increasing the Croma’s total glazed area above the waistline to some 75%, rain and dusk sensors, cruise control, xenon headlamps, rear passenger side airbags, a CD system that can play MP3 files, Fiat’s unique Connect NAV+ satellite navigation and infotelematics, dual zone climate control, privacy curtains and darkened rear windows.

Allied to an outstanding Cd figure of just 0.28, which not only contributes to noise reduction but also to reduced fuel consumption, particular emphasis has been placed on eliminating the transmission of noise, vibration and harshness to the cabin of the new Fiat Croma, further enhancing on-board comfort with the quietest possible, vibration-free interior. The extensive deployment of sound absorbing materials and sound-deadening partitions within the box sections of the Croma’s monocoque structure prevent noise propagation and isolate the passenger compartment from the outside world.

Wind and road noise are also greatly reduced by the adoption of an innovative, double glazed laminated windscreen, consisting of two thick layers of glass separated by a thin film of PVB, which absorbs sound waves at 200 kHz, the prime frequency at which wind noise becomes particularly irritating. Specific attention has also been paid to the vibration-free mounting of all mechanical elements including engine, suspension and steering column, within a particularly rigid bodyshell structure – a factor which also contributes to the surefooted handling of the vehicle.

Fiat Auto has equipped the new Croma with the highest levels of both passive and active safety. Assisted by a chassis designed to provide exceptional torsional stiffness yet absorb impact with maximum efficiency, the Croma may be fitted with up to nine airbags, whilst height adjustable front seatbelts with pretensioner and load limiter, anti-whiplash front seat head restraints, three-point rear seatbelts, anti-submarining front seats, ISOFIX child seat attachments to outer rear seats and an FPS Fire Prevention System are all fitted as standard.

The new Fiat Croma also offers the full range of braking, traction control and stability systems available today: ABS anti-lock brakes complete with electronic brakeforce distribution, ASR to limit wheel slip during acceleration, MSR to modulate engine torque whilst changing down, and a sophisticated ESP to control stability during sudden changes in direction. Vehicles fitted with ESP also benefit from hydraulic brake assistance and a unique Hill Holder function to facilitate smooth hill starts.