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Fiat’s Aegea Project sedan ditches retro cuteness for grown-up style

Fiat may be known exclusively for its cute-and-cuddly 500 family in the U.S., but to the rest of the world it’s still a full-line carmaker that produces a wider variety of vehicles.

Unveiled at the 2015 Istanbul Motor Show, the Fiat Aegea Project is an example of what we’re not getting in this country. It’s a handsome sedan, but unlike the 500 it’s in no way retro, and definitely not cute.

The Aegea Project is named after the Aegean Sea that borders Turkey to the west. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has a large manufacturing plant in Turkey, so it’s not surprising that the country is getting a little special attention.

About the size of a Ford Focus, the Aegea Project features a fairly upscale design for a small car, with a wide grille imposed on an upright front end. Unlike certain other cars in its class (including the Focus), the Fiat was also designed as a sedan first, rather than as a derivative of an existing hatchback model.

Engine choices include two turbodiesels and two gasoline variants of undisclosed displacement. Power outputs range from 95 to 120 horsepower, and both manual and automatic transmissions are available, depending on the engine.

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With that sensible but unexciting spec sheet, the Aegean Project seems ripe for some tinkering from Fiat’s Abarth performance division. An Italian rival to the Volkswagen Jetta GLI is something we’d like to see.

We won’t be seeing it, though, or any of the actual production versions of the Aegea Project. The car will ultimately be sold in 40 markets encompassing Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, but not North America.

Fiat seems pretty content to squeeze the 500 name for all it’s worth in the U.S., meaning buyers who want a four-door model will have to go with the blob-like 500L or the 500X mini crossover for now.

Importing a compact Fiat sedan might also cause problems for FCA, too. A car like the Aegea Project could steal sales from the Dodge Dart which, of course, uses a platform from another Fiat brand: Alfa Romeo.

There you go. If you want a small, affordable, Italian sedan, buy a Dodge Dart.