Fiat Ulysse Estate 2003-2005

Fiat Ulysse Estate 2003-2005

Review by it
Monday, May 16, 2016

Pros:

  • Versatile seating
  • A very practical car
  • A good diesel vehicle for large families or delivery

Cons:

  • Some models are pretty basic, lacking extras and equipment

Overview

The Fiat Ulysse made its debut in 1994 along with its siblings the Peugeot 806, Citroen Synergie and Lancia Zeta ‐ essentially the same car with different styling and trim choices. Its goal was to expel the American MPV Chrysler Voyager from the European market. The 2nd generation followed in 2003 and the Fiat was the only participant to retain its original name. The Peugeot was renamed to 807, Citroen to C8 and Lancia ‐ the most expensive and luxurious of all "Eurovans" is known as the Phedra. Although technically there's a very small difference between all four cars, the Fiat has been the least-popular making it an ideal buy in the used car market.

Exterior and Interior

As a typical Eurovan, it has that distinctive feel of a commercial vehicle. It is very basic and lacking all the luxury that you'd normally find in an American van. Nevertheless, the seats are comfortable and the cabin layout is versatile allowing you to combine the seats, take them out, put them back in quickly and easily. Design-wise it is minimalist ‐ hence why it's cheaper than the French equivalents or the top-of-the-range Lancia, which cannot be bought in the UK. The sliding doors make it very easy to load and unload or pick up your kids from school in a hassle-free manner. Visually, it is considered less inspiring than its French siblings. The front part lacks refinement but you don't really expect the car with such a basic interior be beautiful and polished. Although it looks like a commercial vehicle, you don't normally find curtain airbags in commercial vans. The Ulysse, however, has a pair of those ‐ providing an equal safety package for all passengers. Those trying to escape the drab look of a plastic Eurovan have to look for the Prestigio trim ‐ its leather upholstery and some additional electronic gadgets make it a very pleasant and modern choice.

Performance and Economy

For a car this size you'll want to choose one of the diesel versions, or if you insist on petrol, then at least go for the manual transmission. Otherwise it is a family car that consumes too much fuel and doesn't make sense. Both diesel engines are great ‐ the smaller giving 40mpg and the bigger one managing around 38mpg. The petrol engine will average around 30mpg with the automatic transmission providing much less mileage for your money. The Ulysse is a great buy. It is much cheaper than the 807 or the Synergie, hence when people get their hands on it, they are rarely keen on selling it on. Another factor contributing to the scarcity of the car is that they weren't produced in great numbers. The Ulysse falls within the insurance groups 17 to 23 depending on the engine.

Like to Drive

It's just as good as any van. It's a big size car and should be treated like one. Avoiding sharp maneuvers and high-speed cornering might be a good idea. Because it was developed alongside Peugeot and Citroen, its floorpan and suspension is actually better than on any other Fiat, hence it will feel more pleasant to drive.

Faults and Repairs

It is an average car as are its re-badged siblings. From an 8-seater family car you would expect a higher level of reliability. Many problems that were plaguing the first generation of the Ulysse were eradicated, while some others remained. The most un-reliable part of this car is the electric system ‐ you can expect all sorts of surprises from it. The ECU is prone to failures which might lead to self-inflating airbags, central locking faults and random error messages on the central control screen or the latter going blank without any apparent reason.