Review by it
Monday, May 16, 2016
- Comfortable and versatile
- So much boot space that you don't know what to do with it
- Easy to drive and park around the city
- Too much relying on electronics
- A matured driver will find this a drag to drive
Once Fiat had an IDEA; 'What if we take a common Punto platform and try to make a beautiful, deceptively large and comfortable car based on it?' and that's what they did. Although they did get the comfort bit right, they forgot about the 'beautiful' part.
Exterior and Interior
The whole IDEA behind the car is to produce a tall supermini that would resemble a microvan. The higher than usual roofline provides a better space and a larger boot than other cars taking up exactly the same amount of space. Because it's so small and MPV-like, the car looks cumbersome. It's somehow a mix of the Panda and Punto, which doesn't work well together. In order to add to the pseudo-MPV look, there's also a small triangular window between the side mirror and the A-pillar - what looks good on a Meriva, doesn't fit a considerably smaller car. Besides on a car this size, the awkward A-pillars reduce visibility.
The interior of the car, along with the long list of standard equipment is where Fiat hoped would attract more customers. Its wheelbase is only 1 inch longer than Punto's, but there's so much more space inside. The rear seat can slide allowing for different variations with the boot space. The maximum size of the luggage compartment, with the rear seats magically disappearing into the floor, is 1440litres, which is almost 400litres more than on a standard Punto. So, from the point of flexibility, the car is spot on, now how do you get everything else to match up. Unfortunately, in the case of the Idea, you don't. You cannot help but think that in the end it wasn't such a good IDEA at all.There are several trim levels but the Eleganza trim is the most complete. It's packed full of gadgets to attract a younger buyer. Most of the gadgets are out of place really, especially the on-board computer with so many useless functions. Very few luxury cars have such a complicated computer on board, so why would a low cost Fiat want to have one? Probably to distract the eye of a customer from its faults and niggles.
Performance and Economy
The average vibe you get from the exterior design has found its continuation in the way the car feels and performs. The 1.4-litre petrol engine is quite mediocre. With 42mpg it can be labelled an economical engine, but that's about it. It lacks the punch. So does the 70bhp diesel engine which produces 52mpg. The more powerful common rail diesel with 90bhp is the preferred choice of many Fiat enthusiasts. The economy of 57mpg is truly remarkable and makes the Fiat Idea a very cheap car to run.
What isn't cheap is the car's price tag. Because it's packed with all sorts of clever gadgets, majority of which you won't be using anyway, the price is quite steep for a mini. Good news for a used car buyers is that people realise that they've bought a dud and try to get rid of it as quickly as possible, driving the used car prices down.
Like to Drive
The car is not very enjoyable to drive. The suspension is softly sprung and means you get a lot of vibration into the cabin and the body rolls and wallows considerably. The Fiat Idea will be appreciated by people who don't enjoy working with a manual gearbox, but still want to benefit from a much better fuel economy that the manual boxes generally deliver. The Idea comes with a robotic semi-automatic gearbox that will manipulate the clutch without your involvement. It's also very easy to steer and very easy to park - it's a small car and equipped with parking sensors making it difficult to get it wrong!
Faults and Repairs
The mechanical reliability of the Idea is good as it takes its gear from the Punto and that is a cracking little car. The problems come with the countless computers and gadgets that the car is so full of you'll wish that it didn't have any of them, unfortunately you won't have much choice and the never-ending list of original equipment will cause you problems.