Fiat Bravo hatchback (2007-2013)
"The Bravo is stylish and good value for money, but it feels distinctly average – performing adequately in areas where rivals excel."
- Quiet cabin
- Economical diesel engines
- Handsome looks
- Questions over reliability
- Not great for driving enthusiasts
- Resale values not particularly competitive
Having first appeared in 2007, the Fiat Bravo is getting a bit long in the tooth, especially when you consider that its main competitors in the small family hatchback market are the newer models of the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus and Peugeot 308. So, it’s actually all the more impressive that the Bravo is still elegant and brings a touch of design flair to UK roads. Whether its dimensions are more attractive than its key rivals will come down to personal taste, though. What's more, it remains competitively priced and offers reasonably low running costs. The diesel engines are cheap to run and are quiet, but the driving experience lags behind rivals such as the Focus, lacking some years of technological improvements under the bonnet. Then there are the continuing question marks over Fiat’s reliability and the quality of service at Fiat dealerships, both of which can be a real turn off for potential buyers. The Bravo is now only available in one specification, the five-door Easy.
MPG, running costs & CO2
The most efficient engine available in the Bravo is the 1.6-litre MultiJet, which promises to return 64.2mpg in fuel economy and emit 115g/km of CO2. Meanwhile, the smaller 1.4-litre MultiJet returns 49.6mpg and emits 132g/km. The standard entry-level 1.4-litre model returns 44.8mpg and emits 146g/km. No model falls below the magic 100g/km free road tax number, and the likes of the Golf and Ford’s EcoBoost engines easily better the Bravo’s economy.
Engines, drive & performance
For a family hatchback, the Bravo’s suspension isn’t very good at absorbing any bumps in the road, with even small knocks being felt by those inside the car. Luckily, its light steering makes driving around town very easy, which suits it better, as the Bravo is more competent rather than exciting to drive. With the engine options now reduced, it will appeal most to those more interested in a simple choice and low running costs rather than performance. The standard 90bhp 1.4-litre petrol engine is adequate, but we’d recommend the 1.4-litre MultiAir petrol engine, as it blends decent performance and fuel economy, and produces 140bhp, going from 0-60mph in 8.5 seconds. There’s now only one diesel option, a 1.6-litre MultiJet engine that produces 105bhp, which is very capable and affordable to run with reasonably low emissions to keep running costs even lower.
Interior & comfort
One of the Fiat Bravo’s main selling points is its near-silent interior, with road, wind and tyre noise virtually inaudible from inside the car. It’s definitely a quiet and relaxed place to be. The 1.6-litre MultiJet diesel engine is smooth, with not much in the way of noise or vibration. However, while Fiat claims that the Bravo is the widest car in its class and has more shoulder room for rear passengers than any other compact family hatchback, it’s actually the same size as the old Stilo, with disappointingly tight legroom in the back, especially compared to its main family car rivals. The seats are more comfortable than the old model and there are plenty of accessories like air-conditioning to help make long journeys more pleasant, if still a bit cramped in the back.
Practicality & boot space
The Bravo offers 365 litres of space in the boot with the seats in place, which isn’t bad for a family hatchback, but is still behind the benchmark set by the Ford Focus by a good 20 litres. If you fold down the back seats, the boot expands to offer an improved 1,175 litres, which, alas, does trail the Focus, this time by nearly 90 litres. There’s also another snag - the high boot lip, which makes loading heavy and bulky items tricky. Storage options inside the car are about average, with reasonably sized door bins and a standard-sized glove compartment. The driving position is somewhat cramped, but the driver’s seat is height adjustable.
Reliability & safety
Fiat is never going to win any medals in reliability at this rate. It still languishes at the bottom of the manufacturers list in the 2013 Auto Express Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, continuing its questionable reputation. The Bravo itself doesn’t feature in the poll, and no Fiat cars managed to get into the top 100 cars. There have been no recalls for the Bravo issued since mid-2008 but that’s hardly confidence inspiring. The quality of the interior is significantly better than it was in the Bravo's predecessor, the Stilo, however, but there are still plenty of its rivals that feel of much higher quality inside. A five-star adult and a three-star child occupant rating in the Euro NCAP crash safety test is still impressive, so the Bravo remains a safe car to own, even if the tests have recently been made more stringent. Electronic stability control, driver, passenger and front side airbags and seatbelt pre-tensioners are fitted as standard.
Price, value for money & options
You won’t pay as much for the Bravo than you will for the like of the Golf and Focus, but resale values in the used car market are a real concern. Of course, second-hand deals will also be limited by there now being a solitary spec. You’ll have to console yourself with the reasonable levels of equipment you get for your money. So, the Bravo comes with air-conditioning, all-round electric windows, Bluetooth and MP3 connectivity fitted as standard. You can also add climate control, an electric sunroof, cruise control, leather seats and a rear parking sensor as optional extras. Combined with the low running costs of the diesels and small petrol engines, the Bravo is a genuine low-cost prospect.