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

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

    Ford Focus

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

    Seat Leon

  • 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

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

    Peugeot 308


First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • First Drive
    25 November 2015
    More powerful Clubsport version of Volkswagen's iconic hot hatch proves thoroughly entertaining on our track-only first drive in Portugal
  • First Drive
    25 November 2015
    Suzuki has added an automatic diesel powertrain to its S-Cross crossover line-up. Does it offer a compelling choice over the manual versions?
  • First Drive
    24 November 2015
    Alpina’s D3 saloon and estate benefit from the latest BMW 3 Series updates. We've always loved it, but is it still as beguiling as ever in this latest form?
  • First Drive
    24 November 2015
    Our first UK drive shows that few supercars offer as rounded a package as Audi's new R8. It isn't the last word dynamically but it still has a lot to offer
  • First Drive
    20 November 2015
    A new 1.8 turbo petrol engine and manual gearbox make the Ibiza Cupra a more satisfyingly brutish, hands-on hot hatch, but it's still not the best of its breed