What is it?
Fiat’s latest take on the van-related MPV, the Qubo is a passenger version of PSA-Fiat's new entry-level van. It's boxy proportions hide its compact dimensions well, but it's actually 70mm shorter than a Punto.
Despite this there’s plenty of space for occupants and a decent-size boot. And although the Qubo is in essence an MPV version of the Fiorino van, that is itself based on the Punto. So the ingredients sound promising.
What’s it like?
You get most of the tricks you’d expect of a larger MPV. The Qubo boasts twin sliding doors, removable rear seats and even a front passenger seat that folds into the foot well.
There’s no escaping the boxy looks, however. Even though Fiat has done its best with flourishes to the wings and around the boot badge, the utilitarian shape (shared with its Peugeot, Citroën and Fiat commercial-vehicle cousins) is hard to conceal. Smart alloy wheels and natty roof bars smarten things up, but this is not a car for the fashion-conscious.
What is much more car-like is the way the Qubo drives. The steering wheel adjusts for both reach and rake, the gear lever is well positioned, and although the seating position is elevated you don’t feel as if you’re perched too high.
On the move, the 1248cc turbodiesel is adequately refined and hauls the Qubo along at a respectable pace. It certainly feels more driveable than its 16.5sec 0-62mph time would suggest. An ample 140lb ft of torque available from 1750rpm no doubt helps the Qubo here.
In corners there’s a reasonable amount of roll, but this is the payoff for a comfortable ride. Even the steering is better than you would expect. It’s not brimming with feel, but it is light, progressive and accurate.
Should I buy one?
The Qubo makes plenty of financial sense, qualifying for lowest-rate vehicle tax and capable of returning an easy 50mpg in everyday driving. It also has few rivals - its closest competitors are either larger, more expensive MPVs like the Renault Modus or less flexible superminis such as the new Honda Jazz.
The Qubo does nothing badly and exceeds expectations in many areas. Yes, it’s a niche product, but it’s an extremely well executed one.