It looks like Fiat’s next major launch in the U.S. will be a compact crossover internally referenced as the “Ellezero” (pronounced L-0) and due for a world debut at March’s 2012 Geneva Motor Show.

The vehicle, which is predicted to resemble a five-door Fiat 500 on steroids, will go on sale in Europe by the middle of the year and arrive in the U.S. not too long after as a 2013 model.

While its styling may mimic the cute lines of the Fiat 500, most of the similarities end there, according to Inside Line.

The Ellezero is expected to ride on Fiat’s newly developed SUSW (Small U.S. Wide) platform, which will also spawn a new compact crossover for Jeep. Key competitors will be Ford’s upcoming Fiesta-based crossover, which has been seen testing in the U.S., as well as a new compact soft-roader being developed by Opel for the European market and the existing MINI Cooper Countryman.

Power should come from the same 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine with MultiAir technology found in several Fiat models, including the 500. Expect output to be slightly higher than the 101 horsepower and 98 pound-feet of torque found in the 500, though. It's also very likely that a sportier Abarth model will be launched further down the track.

Production of the Ellezero will take place at the former Zastava plant located in Serbia, which previously built the Fiat-based Yugo.

The good news is that we can expect even more Fiat models in the not too distant future. In addition to the Fiat 500 ‘Elettra’ electric car due next year, as well as the long-rumored 500 ‘Giardinetta’ wagon, Fiat is also expected to bring its Doblo commercial vehicle as new compact entry in the Ram lineup.

Stay tuned for updates as we approach the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, press days for which commence on March 6. In the meantime, visit our dedicated show page for our ongoing coverage of the event.


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