The chairman of the large, diversified Italian auto maker, Fiat S.p.A., introduced the firm's new front-wheel-drive car, the Strada, to some 2,000 dealers, their wives and about 50 auto writers Tuesday.

The car was specifically designed for the American market, and comes ironically just as every American car maker is preparing domestic cars of a similar configuration. Chrysler Corp. already has its Omni/Horizon on sale, General Motors Corp. will introduce its four versions in the spring, American Motors Corp. has completed a deal to manufacture Renault front-wheel-drive cars in the U.S. and Ford Motor Co. is due for a similar car within two years.

The Strada will sell for a base price of $4,296 for the three-door standard version and $4,840 for the five-door custom.

The Strada has a four-cylinder, 91-cubic-inch engine that delivers 69 horsepower. It seats four people. It comes with either a five-speed manual transmission or an automatic, and has MacPherson struts and independent suspension on all four wheels. The curb weight of the car is 2,050 pounds.

Unlike most older Fiats and other, non-luxury European cars, the Strada has air conditioning available in all versions.