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

  • More than 29 million Golfs have been sold since 1974

    Volkswagen Golf

    1
  • The standout component of the Ford Focus has always been its handling

    Ford Focus

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

    Seat Leon

    3
  • 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

    4
  • Peugeot 308
    The 308 marks the first time a carry-over name has been applied to an all-new Peugeot

    Peugeot 308

    5

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • First Drive
    27 March 2015
    Lavishly-equipped, rugged-looking Peugeot 508 estate is a pleasant drive, but there are many more recommendable alternatives
  • 308 GT 1.6-litre petrol is priced from £24,095
    First Drive
    27 March 2015
    Peugeot's given the 308 the engine from the 208 GTi 30th and some chassis upgrades; we find out if the changes bring a bit of old-school Peugeot hot-hatch magic to this likeable family hatch.
  • Car review
    26 March 2015
    Does Suzuki's new city runabout have what it takes to succeed?
  • First Drive
    26 March 2015
    Collins Performance has given the Fiesta ST 270bhp and 265lb ft, but has our favourite fast Ford been ruined in the process?
  • First Drive
    26 March 2015
    The Seat Leon X-Perience is the closest thing to an SUV that you can buy with a Seat badge for now, blending estate practicality with off-road ability