When the five-door Fiat Bravo hit the UK market in 2007, it wasn’t so much a debut as a comeback for the Bravo name. Production of the original Bravo/Brava had halted in 2001 but, after the dismal Stilo singularly failed to set the car-buying world alight, in 2007 Fiat dug the Bravo namebadge out of the bottom of the corporate branding drawer.

As far as Fiat is concerned, the revived Bravo is the car to put it back into contention in the hard-fought family hatchback segment. That pitches it against rivals such as the VW Golf, Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra, among others.

Potential buyers are almost inevitably lured by the Bravo’s looks. It is probably the sexiest small hatch bar the Mini. It also marks a departure from the dull Fiats that have done so much to undermine the appeal of the brand these past 30 years, because it flaunts some tasteful, sexy Italian flair.

By doing so, it invokes memories of some of the most sensuous and exquisitely crafted cars in the world, from Alfa Romeos and Lancias to Ferraris and Lamborghinis. But does it have the all-round abilities to deliver on those looks in what is probably the most hard-fought car class of them all.

Top 5 Family hatchbacks

  • Seventh generation Volkswagen Golf
    More than 29 million Golfs have been sold since 1974

    Volkswagen Golf

    1
  • The popular Ford Focus in 1.5 TDCi Zetec form
    The standout component of the Ford Focus has always been its handling

    Ford Focus

    2
  • Seat Leon
    Seat offers five engines for the Leon, ranging from a 104bhp 1.2 petrol to a 181bhp 2.0 diesel

    Seat Leon

    3
  • Seventh generation Vauxhall Astra
    The seventh-generation Vauxhall Astra seems to be a collection of General Motors' latest and greatest technology

    Vauxhall Astra

    4
  • Mazda 3
    The SkyActiv platform used in the 3 features more high and ultra-high-strength steel, offering greater strength and less weight

    Mazda 3

    5

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