Fiat Marea Saloon 1997-2002

Fiat Marea Saloon 1997-2002

Review by it
Monday, May 16, 2016


  • A good choice of engines
  • Lovely exterior and interior design
  • Efficient and inexpensive


  • Lacking character
  • It's not that good to drive
  • In increasing the boot size Fiat made it almost impossible to access
  • There's nothing too bad about this car yet most alternatives are better


The Fiat Marea is a good car saloon car. Its problem is that there are so many better cars in its class that has left the Italian effort in the shadows. When announced, it seemed like a great idea ‐ same design traits as the ground-breaking Bravo/Brava coupled with an improved luggage space ‐ could've been a winning formula.

Exterior and Interior

After coming up with the two beautiful hatchbacks, the Bravo and Brava, it made sense to extend the range to include a sedan and an estate car. That's exactly what Fiat did ‐ a year later The Marea appeared bearing the same design touches, which were fresh and contemporary for the time. The problem is that the Marea is trying to be larger than it actually is. Having been built on the Bravo/Brava chassis, it is still a similar size to the VW Golf. In fact its wheelbase is an inch longer than that of the Golf but that doesn't change the point the fact that the Golf is still a more comfortable car. One year later Volkswagen Bora accomplished what the Marea failed at ‐ converting a successful hatchback into a stylish sedan. In a family car one of the most important factors is the comfort, and this is something that's lacking inside the Marea. The interior design was copied from the Bravo/Brava cars. Although the shapes and the flow are interesting, the cheap plastic will soon put you off. If you cannot afford a Bora or don't like it for whatever reason, you might want to look at the Marea.

Performance and Economy

The turbo diesel engines are economical, smooth and strong. Fit well for everyday driving. The 2.4-litre common rail diesel engine provides a great performance and is the strongest among the Fiat's diesel engines ‐ 130BHP is plenty of horses. Theoretically, it can propel the car to 120mph but you certainly don't want to go there unless you want the interior to disintegrate in front of your own eyes. Where the petrol engines are concerned, anything below the 1.8-litre engine is wroth leaving alone and definitely isn't big enough for the car. The 1.8-litre engine has more power for same economy. The best is the 2.0-litre 153BHP engine which has a good overall power plant. The fuel economy of all the petrol engines is around 30 mpg while that of the diesel engines is between 40 to 50 mpg. To insure the Marea is neither cheap nor expensive ‐ the smallest diesel engines fall within the insurance group 19 while the most powerful versions can go up to 27.

Like to Drive

The ride is rather firm which is again one thing you don't want with a family car. It doesn't glide along the road but you will feel most bumps or potholes in the road. The funny shape of the car accounts for the noise at highway speeds. Adding to the "music" are the tyres. Nevertheless, the car is capable of safe high-speed driving. You'll love the steering, the grip and the way the brakes work.

Faults and Repairs

The smaller engines are clearly too weak for this car. Take the estate version, add some passengers and luggage and the engine temperature will skyrocket to an unhealthy level. Larger engines are relatively reliable and should be free of major problems. Fuel injection is something that needs checking over quite often ‐ both on the petrol and diesel cars. Thanks to the rigid suspension, the cheap plastic parts will eventually come loose and start to rattle, adding even more noise at high speeds. There can be problems in the suspension itself. If buying a Fiat Marea, give it a good test-drive and listen for unusual noises. Many suspension issues can be tested on speed-bumps ‐ a faulty suspension will instantly let you know about its presence. Unlike the common belief, it's not that cheap to repair a Fiat. But if you find a good independent garage rather than a franchise dealer you will be able to reduce these costs.