From £14,566
A great new engine in an average, if stylish, car

Our Verdict

Fiat Bravo
Bravo shape was rapidly produced, but remains one of the best-looking Golf-chasers

The Fiat Bravo is a stylish Focus rival. It's good value, but has an odd driving position

  • First Drive

    Fiat Bravo 2.0 Multijet

    New common-rail diesel gives Fiat's Focus challenger better performance and flexibility
  • First Drive

    Fiat Bravo Eco

    Budget motoring without sacrificing any of the creature comforts

What is it?

This is the all-new 1.6-litre Multijet, the centrepiece of Fiat’s family of common-rail direct-injection turbodiesel engines, which comes in either 103bhp or 118bhp form. The more powerful engine will also replace the lower-powered 1.9 Multijet, though the 148bhp range-topper remains.

What’s it like?

Green. Both versions of the new engine get a diesel particulate filter as standard, making them compliant with 2011’s Euro V emissions regulations. The 118bhp motor also chucks out just 129g/km of CO2, and will return 57.6mpg on the combined cycle.

It’s also exceptionally refined. The higher powered car gets a variable geometry turbo and this, coupled with a more relaxed and meaty power delivery means smoother, more effortless performance than the smaller output engine offers.

The only criticism we can find of the engine is a hint of breathlessness at low revs - even though Fiat claims that maximum torque arrives at just 1500rpm.

The rest of the car is less, er, accomplished. It looks great, but some of the interior trimmings are ill-fitting and the plastics can feel tacky to the touch. It’s way better than Fiats of old, but it’s no class leader inside.

The same goes for the ride and handling. There’s reasonable grip and body control and the car feels agile, but the ride is always fidgety and there’s none of the fluidity, composure and maturity that you’ll find in a Ford Focus. Or even a Hyundai i30.

Should I buy one?

If you’re looking for a smooth, efficient and eco-friendly diesel, then absolutely. But go for the 118bhp engine - if you can stump up the fairly steep £14,500 required. The roughly £700 cheaper 103bhp 1.6 is both less refined and more strained in its performance than its more powerful stablemate.

This is a case, though, of a great engine in an average - if stylish - car. In almost every measurable way, a Hyundai CRDi 1.6 is a better car, but we’d quite understand if you went for the Bravo. It’s just much cooler.

Matt Rigby

Join the debate

Comments
6

4 February 2008

Good looking hatch and nice engine, so nothing unusual there for an Italian car.

Question is, why is it that, despite having been in car production business for over a century, in terms of ride and handling Fiat is still unable to make a mainstream car that can match its class rivals, including the model from a relative new comer like Hyundai, which has nothing like the engineering pedigree and historical track record?

4 February 2008

Overdrive, it really depends on which country or even which magazine you read the review in! British hacks rave about the tail-happy Focus while the Italians see that as an undesireable handling trait in a family hatch... I recently drove a Bravo and although the ride is fairly firm it cornered well and was quite good fun.

It seems to me that its price:engine:looks:handling ratio is just about unbeatable in this class.

5 February 2008

Hyundai also got only 4 stars on Euro NCAP (pretty bad for a new car, Bravo is older and got 5) but of course all of a sudden this doesn't matter. If it were the other way round though and Bravo got 4 stars you'd be all over the 'substandard' safety.

And Bravo's interior (especially considering its price) is excellent, top of the class, a fact mentioned by this magazine months before but ofc Bravo isn't selling that well atm so it's time to bash it some more to prove how good a magazine you really are.

Disgraceful.

5 February 2008

The Bravo is a fabulous looking car, with excellent spec and handling to rival the rest of the class. It's not all about copying the opposition, rather offering something different or better spec'd like for like. This is where Fiat have hit the jackpot. The interior is far better than anything else within the class and the price is more than competitive.

Only down side will be residual value, but if Fiat have built this car to more exacting standards, then this overtime will not be such an issue.

12 February 2008

"if you can stump up the fairly steep £14,500 required."

Steep as opposed to what? A quick glance through Focus and Astra price lists reveal it's cheaper or on par with it's opposition and FIATs are always better discounted. Or is this usual sly dig meaning "steep for a FIAT"?

14 February 2008

Italian cars have never really been well received in Autocar.

Especially Fiats. The Bravo also goes head to head in one of the most hotly contested segments in the UK. Albeit, they seem to have to have a car that handles like and F1 car to get class honours. God knows why.

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