Fiat Bravo Hatchback 1995-2002

Fiat Bravo Hatchback 1995-2002

Review by it
Monday, May 16, 2016

Pros:

  • Groundbreaking interior and exterior design
  • Great value for the low price
  • Decent fuel economy
  • Performance comparable to high-end German models (the turbo version)

Cons:

  • Reliability issues

Overview

The Fiat Coupe was an unexpected and unusual model from the Italian auto maker. Fiat used to make sporty cars decades ago, but since the Sport Spider disappeared in early 1980s, they've mainly concentrated on small and cheap utilitarian cars. Although the Coupe attracts the customers with its fascinating design and style, the car is practical and costs much less than Mercedes Benz CLK, Porsche Boxter or BMW Z3.

Exterior and Interior

As soon as you look at the Fiat Coupe it is likely you will fall in love with the car and you'll instantly forget it any technical faults it may have. The car is easily one of the most exciting things that has happened in the 90s mainstream car making scene. Although it was designed by a talented American designer called Chris Bangle, the car doesn't have a single American feature about its style. It is so Italian that you think the car was designed by someone that was born and bred in Italy. The Pininfarina studio is often wrongly credited with designing the car, although they provided the interior, they didn't work on the exterior. The angles, broken lines and ostentatious creases were a brave thing to offer in a mainstream market where Mercedes and BMW rules with smooth and rounded cars. The risk paid off and for a few years the Coupe sold really well. The interior displays a touch of a master (Pininfarina) and it just works really well. The cain is elegant, ergonomically pleasing and logical, it even seats 4 people. The driver's seat is very comfortable and well-positioned to enjoy the sporty nature of the car.

Performance and Economy

The naturally-aspirated 1.7-litre engine doesn't offer anything but disappointment. From a striking looking car like the Coupe, everyone expects great handling abilities and acceleration. The less powerful version is simply a Bravo (the car that the Coupe was actually based on) with a beautiful body. To be worth its while, the Coupe has to be equipped with the 2.0-litre engine and preferably the turbo charger. In its highest spec, the Coupe can achieve 155mph top speed (electronically limited) and accelerate from 0 to 60mph in 6.5 seconds. Then you realise that it's just a 5-cylinder engine. If it delivers the same oomph as a German V6 and consumes less fuel (it can achieve 30mpg if you don't hit it too hard) then why would you pay extra for a more expensive, but poorer performing car?

Like to Drive

When it comes to handling, you have to remember that not all Coupes are born equal. The non-turbo version is a usual mainstream car, while the turbo version features a visco limited-slip differential that improves its steering behaviour and gives it an edge over more expensive German coupes. For the low investment that you have to make in order to obtain one of these, you probably can't get a more exciting car. The car is available with both 5 and 6-speed manual gearboxes. The latter is much more fun and can deliver better fuel economy.

Faults and Repairs

Although Fiat maintains that the Coupe is just a little more sophisticated than a Bravo, I'm guessing they're talking about the 1.7-litre non-turbo version. After all in its highest spec it is a sports car and has to be treated like one. Generally Fiats are very reliable, but I cannot say the Turbo Coupe. It is at the top of the reliability scale, but not in a good way. It may require expensive repairs and the turbo charger is likely to fail after a certain period. Mild rust problems have also been reported and you may also need to give some attention to an array of small electrical glitches. If regular (though more regular than with other cars) maintenance is provided, the engine and gearbox is going to serve well and any problems you do face with the Coupe, will probably be worth it.