Having 3 children, a husband and a German Shepherd, I started looking for a car that would be able to seat all of us comfortably - not an easy task! Having considered the very popular Vauxhall Zafira, Volkswagon Touran, Peugeot, Citreon, etc, they all had 1 thing in common: 5 decent seats, 2 seats with very little legroom, and no boot space when all 7 seats were up! I then saw the 'new' shape Multipla and, well, you could almost say that I fell in love! It's not the prettiest car - in fact, my husband calls it ugly! - but I like it. Add to that the benefits:
- 6 individual, full-size, comfortable seats (3 in the front, 3 in the back);
- Large boot space (430litres);
- Added advantage of removing the back 3 seats to increase the boot capacity to 1900litres, with completely flat floor;
- Extremely comfortable to sit in and drive;
- High - easy to see whilst driving;
- Large almost wrap-around windows - allowing children excellent views while driving (when they're not absorbed in DS's or books, that is!)
- The 2 middle seats (front & back) can fold down supplying 'tables' with built in drink holders;
- Steering wheel controls for the radio;
- Storage in dashboard on both sides of the car;
- Extra large side mirrors covering blind spots & kerb - easy to park!
In the year that I've had my Multipla, it's proven a fantastic buy - easy to drive & comfortable to sit in, even with 3 car seats in the back (more elbow room for the children!). It is slightly uncomfortable to have an adult in the front middle seat whilst driving as that particular seat isn't adjustable, but fine to have a child there. The boot space is amazing considering all the seats, and there are quite a few extra storage spaces around the car too! You can even remove the front middle seat for longer trips and put a mini fridge in there!
The only disadvantages that I can think of are:
- it's width - it can be a little bit tricky to park in a normal-sized parking space as there's not much space left to get out of or into the car! (Sliding doors would've been useful here!);
- The handbrake can get in the way when getting into or out of the car - especially if you're wearing shorts or a skirt/dress (can get caught on the handbrake!);
- The slant of the windscreen makes it a bit difficult for the sun visors to be 100% effective, and it makes it a bit difficult to see how far you are from the car in front of you, so you tend to park 'miles' away from it!;
- you have to remember to leave a fair bit of space behind the car if you have to open the boot!
- the cd player tends to skip a bit
The advantages outweigh the disadvantages by far - this is a perfect family car. A pleasure to drive and the children love it!
Even my husband prefers us going out in my car now!
I love Top Gear, but am as far away from a petrolhead as you could hope to find. Mainly cos I live for the day when the motor vehicle will be replaced by a donkey and cart and my fear of Italian driving can be brought back to a level where breathing when in motion is a possibility.
So if you want lots of "handling" and "horses power" and "toques"...click back now, I won't be offended.
I wanted to call our now 7 year old, 100,000 km on the clock, slightly dented Multipla, Bertha.
Given the Italian Sock Dropper's handicap in the "th" department we were forced to compromised. The name suits her, she is plump, with a very big bottom. Nothing sleek or streamlined about her.
We chose her because our budget was small and she only cost 15,000 Euros from a FIAT car dealer who wanted rid of her cos she had been sitting there for a year, waayyyyy cheaper than any of the other models with extra seats that we went to see.
That was an indispensable feature for us, cos at the time my father in law was still alive, so I had to be able to fit in one child (in a bulky car seat), two elderly, cantankerous people who liked their food, their fulltime carer, my husband and myself. Cos heaven forbid that any hospital appointment should be attended without the whole family available to wail, wave their arms about and generally make a full blown nuclear crisis out of worm cast.
In retrospect, she probably would do better with a family who didn't force her up and down a 2 km long potholed, stony track about six times a day, but despite not being built for quite so much semi off road transportation she has served us well. So well that we aren't going to retire her when we get an off road 4x4 for our next car. Berta will live out her days with us as our second car, mainly for the purposes of us not being left trapped in the middle of nowhere in case "new car" ever has to go to hospital, refuses to start or other such annoyances.
As much solid, mainly dependable use that we have had out of her, there are some points to consider.
Her computer is a touch neurotic and has a fit if you drive her through a puddle, or if there is a sudden change in temperatures. This anxiety is usually displayed as a flashing unrecognizable symbol on the console yelling at us to take her to the nearest garage RIGHT NOW. We don't bother any more after six visits in the first three months, where a complete checkup demonstrated that what she needed was a valium and to pull herself together.
Her fan belt and it's supports don't like dust or grit and they like wet dust and grit even less. Five months of the year she causes grave eardrum damage to pedestrians, as she screams like a stuck cat constantly until we spend a couple of hundred Euros to change the belt and the wheelie things it sits on. Pretty much we budget for an annual change of those components.
Being Italian she isn't very pro seatbelts. The female part of the system is set so low down that if all the seats and in, up and occupied people struggle to strap in because they have to ram their hands deep between the chairs where the space between the cushions is at its tightest.
At higher speeds (150km ph) she sounds like she is filled to the brim with tin cans. The noise of various bits shaking about means a furious row breaks out between my husband as I. Because I want back in the slow lane pronto, convinced that any minute now she is going to disintegrate around us. I have it on good authority that when he charges to and fro to Milan on the motorway he is less observant of speed limits (genetic predisposition) and so far she has remained intact despite all the clattering that indicates the opposite.
She is hell to park in Italy. The spaces are few and tight. The use of designated spaces is a bit eclectic with people basically parking behind other cars on the basis that the person actually in the legal space will honk if they wish to leave, and the illegally parked owner can come and move his car...just as soon as he has finished his leisurely lunch.
Berta the Multipla is on the wide side, so we often find ourselves driving round for about a million years, getting over excited when we see a Lesser Spotted Free Space. Only to get our hopes dashed when it is revealed to be too small, or we can't get round the erratic parking of some unsociable git who dumped their car and thought emergency lights were a fine substitute for "consideration for others".
That said she has several bonus points that make up for the deficiencies.
You ride high in her, so you lose the feeling that you risk your bum scrapping on the road and you don't feel so intimidated when some idiot in a Punto practically superglues themselves to your bumper, flashing their headlights and being an utter berk about your refusal to go more than 20km ph over the limit.
She has been designed so you get an fantastic range of vision both back and front. With both of us acting as look out we have a 100% success rate of avoid hitting pedestrians who think zebra crossings are a form of cheerful road decoration rather than a vague suggestion of where it's best to cross the road.
The massive range of vision in the rear in conjunction with being so high up means you can also turn around and make gestures alla Jasper Carrott, knowing that you have been seen and utter confusion is taking place. Thus causing Granndad Racers to slow down, as they wonder if they have dementia cos they seem to have temporarily lost their ability to always understand body language.
She is no petrofrolic. We were worried that our outlay for fuel would go up compared to our old estate car, but despite all that bulk she has cost slightly less to feed (thank god, you should see the prices this side of the alps)
For all her temperamentalness in terms of computer and her fan belt issues, the rest of her has been utterly reliable. Aside from MOTs, bodywork where some twerp was under the impression that STOP written on the road was more advise than order and drove into us, a couple of tyres with nails in them (Ooops ! Am new to carpentry, one has to expect a learning curve) we have had almost no problems with her at all.
All in all if you need that extra seat, you like her plumpness, you can live with a few niggles, you don't wish to go like the clappers (sans earplugs), she is worth considering.
But if you do get her, love her OK. Cos this is not "just a car", she has feelings.
And you won't like it if they get hurt.
Well, not unless you like standing on the side of a motorway flapping fifty euro notes at lorry drivers in the hope that one of them will stop and rescue you.
Which is what happened to us the one time we mentioned, in her hearing, that we should think about trading her in when getting our next car.
Ten minutes later she blew out a tyre, dumping us halfway to Milan, with my mother in law in full, hysterical, unending, high volume, arm flapping, unmedicated autowitter about it being lunch time and no steaming, heaped plates of food being placed in front of her the millisecond the clock struck 1.
You have been warned.
"urghhh..you can't possibly want THAT monstrosity?" said my partner. "It's so...ugly". I dug my heels in...I liked the fact that it looked so different from most cars. But..."it's so un-aerodynamic..." he finish lamely.
Aerodynamic? ... why do men gush over cars with smooth lines and give it lots of "ooh's and aah's" about "aerodynamics"...and then conveniently bypass the fact that it guzzles 4 times as much fuel as 'normal cars'? (Correct me if I'm wrong but I thought the whole point of aerodynamics was to decrease wind resistance and thus make the car more economical to run?). Yeah...right!
I got my monstrosity! He got the bill. :-)
After 5 years of daily use, this car has been a veritable BARGAIN.
The pro's were (and are!):
* We bought left hand drive so we could take it to Spain with us when we emigrated. But now returning to the UK the car is still easily driven. Most left hand drive cars mean that your views are obscured - but because of the way the windows are built this doesn't happen.
* There are 6 seats (3 up front and 3 behind) - great if you have lots of kids or your kids have lots of friends - or you want to go somewhere with your mates and need a vehicle to get you all there!
* The back 3 seats can be removed and you're left with a high van/storage space - great for picking up ebay items, small household removals, taking things to the dump or for going on holiday!
* The handbrake is next to the door on the drivers side - so lots of space for the person sat in the middle.
* The 2 middle seats can be made into tables with cupholders etc - which is great for stopping with the kids and bringing out the picnic hamper and eating!
* The windows are all really LOW so the visuals are superb. My daughter now hates getting into any other car, because she can never see out.
* I don't do fuel consumption - I just fill it up when it needs more diesel - but my partner now ditches his Saab in favour of my car because it's cheaper to run!
* I've needed very little in the way of costly repairs on it over the last 5 years. So far, I've just had to replace a few tyres + the clutch went on the car costing me about £1K last year - but other than this no other repairs (and I bought the car second hand 5 years ago!)
The cons are:
* When I hit things, the sides of the car dent!
* When I took the car to Spain for 3 years, I found that the dashboard started to melt?? ...I guess extreme heat will do this? Fiat said to contact my local dealer but the local dealer said "they say that but we don't have a test centre...and they're not going to do anything for you" - so we now live with the sticky melted plastic which dust adhers to!!
* The plastic at the back of some of the seats and along the boot has cracked. Again, I think it was a heat issue which weakened the plastic but perhaps with all our household moves/freezers thrown in the back etc we may have inadvertently cracked the plastic near the hatch due to weighty objects?
In summation, if you're a family, and need a practical family car, you can't go wrong but I have to rate the quality as 3/5 only because of the plastic issues above.
When I bought our car about three years ago, I was very worried about it handling like a van. How wrong I was. The car handles well, I never grow tired of looking at it, the extra seat for that extra friend of the kids has helped us out 100 fold and the extras I got with the car were just great with the ELX model I have, containing alloys, air con, 10 CD player, two sockets for electicals, two sun roofs and many more bits and pieces. The interior is very spacious considering the size on the outside and very comfortable with all passengers front and back with their own seat. Boot space is good. The ride is as good as any average sized family car as is the driving position. With all the rear seats out it has plenty of storage space. Downsides are the front windows don't go all the way down and the fabric on the seats can stain easy. Three years on and the car still turns heads
In preparation for the birth of our fourth child my wife and I started to research our new vehicle - realising of course we'd need a MPV. Our favourite at the time was a Vauxhall Zafira, attractive, practical and within our price range.
After much research and many visits to car showrooms we ended up with a Multipla. I have to say I had decided we WEREN'T going to have one - what an ugly car - but aftere due consideration it was simply the best available. So what were it's strong points:
- It is very spacious inside (more than matching other, bigger cars we've previously had).
- MPV's tend to have 7 seats and our requirement was for 6 - this was therefore ideal.
- It's also well designed with lots of nooks and crannies to put things and useful drinks holders.
- It's higher than many vehicles and the kids can see easily out of the windows which makes journeys much more pleasant.
- Mileage is good. It's not at all expensive to run.
- And it seemed good when I had a test drive. I was also told by a friend who had one that performance and handling was good.
- Price was also very good, more value for money than comparable cars.
We've now had the car for 12 months and are delighted with it. All of the above remains true and actually the handling and performance are better than I initially thought.
As for the looks - OK it's ugly - but owners tend to stick together. it's one of those vehicles where other owners wave to you when they pass!
Probably the only downside is that servicing isn't easy because dealers aren't ubiquitous. You may have to drive a few miles to find one.
Overall - highly recommended! If you need six seats, go for a Multipla.
You've all seen them, haven't you? Those weird vehicles, with the bug-eyes! Most people have to look twice, just to ensure their eyes aren't deceiving them. With the Multipla, Fiat have managed to create the most unique car on the road. (Although Renault are beginning to get in on the act with their new creations...) So I'm going to tell you the story of how I came to choose a Multipla, and what I think of it now, after 2 weeks ownership.... are you sitting comfortably....? We're not a big family, really. Just me, the wife, the daughter (aged 2 1/2) and the dog. But we often found the boot of our old Laguna filling up when we went on long trips, so we were looking for something a little bit bigger. There is another, slightly more selfish reason to get something larger - I'm a bit on the tall side (6'3), and wanted to sit in a slightly more upright position. We researched possible replacements for the Laguna in depth. We went through all the different options - Estates (boring, and surprisingly poor leg room in the back), Galaxy/Alhambra etc. (too big), Scenic (too boring), Zafira (a close second, but still very dull), Picasso (my wife couldn't stand it), 4x4 (rubbish fuel consumption, and we'd only be getting one for pose value).... After umming and ahhhing we set off to our local "car supermarket", to have a closer look. We'd already seen the Multipla, and liked the appearance (I know, I know....) but as soon as we took it for a test drive, our decision was made. So that's the story..... but what made us decide on the Multipla?: 1. Versatility The Multipla, unlike any other car in it's class, seats 3 abreast in the front, and 3 abreast in the back. And the middle seat isn't "toddler-sized" either - it's a full-grown, independantly adjustable adult-sized seat. There's no feeling of being squashed at any time, even with 6
adults in the car (although the England Rugby Squad might possibly struggle a bit...) The middle seat in both the front and back fold down to create a handy table. Bizarrely, the hole in the middle is the perfect size for holding McDonalds Drinks trays in place! It gets better. The back seats, with a bit of fiddling, come out altogether, leaving an absolutely cavernous load space. 2. Driveability For such a big car, the Multipla actually handles very well. My version has a 2 litre diesel engine, which, for a diesel, has surprisingly good acceleration (particularly in second gear!) The increased width of the car means cornering is comfortable, without the swaying which often accompanies cornering in MPVs. Bizarrely, the width causes no problems at all with parking/driving along narrow streets etc. I was initially expecting trouble, but found I adapted to the extra width easily. One thing that didn't really strike me on the test drive was quite how high the Multipla is. I'm not sure whether it is due to the shape, but it never really struck me as such a big car. However, in queues of traffic, we now find ourselves looking down on many cars - we're actually at a similar height to the Toyota LandCruiser! The driving position is very comfortable, with an electrically-height-adjustable driver's seat, which is great fun to play with. Visibility is absolutely incredible, with huge expanses of glass surrounding the driver on all sides, and the support columns aren't too wide. The side mirrors are enormous, with an additional bit on the bottom focussed along the bottom of the car - great for judging distance from the kerb when parking! We've already taken the car on one longish journey, and found it very comfortable indeed. Usually, I end a journey feeling tired and achy, but I got out of the car feeling totally refreshed! AND NOW A BIG WARNING: Drivers of the Multipla, apparently, need to have held a full l
icence for over a year, otherwise they will not be insured. Bizarre but true. My wife is not pleased! 3. Uniqueness Well, there's no doubt there! But the unique appearance doesn't end on the exterior. If you look closely, you'll see the rather odd door handles, peeking over the window-sills. Then, you might spot the dashboard, centred in the car, rather than being in front of the driver. With bright colours, and those huge windows, you'll never see another car quite like it!!! 4. Usefulness For a young family, the Multipla is ideal - they've thought of everything, from wipe-clean surfaces on the back of the front seats (where little muddy feet tend to kick...) to the huge windows, allowing fantastic visibility for all occupants. The boot is surprisingly big, given the not-too-impressive length of the car, and as I've already mentioned, the ride is extremely comfortable. Oh, and all importantly - it averages 42 mpg - not bad for a car this size. 5. The Down-sides There must be some negatives.... And there are. The handbrake is to the right of the driver, between the seat and the door. If you're not careful, as you get out, your heel can hit the handbrake, releasing it. As I have discovered, this is not clever if you've parked on a slope. The fresh and funky layout is all very well, but there are a few moments when you wish you had better access to the controls. Two in particular - to operate the front electric windows, you have to slide your hand horizontally under the protruding door handle. And the dash-board mounted gearstick is all very well, but it does mean you have to fiddle around behind it to find the heating controls. And surprisingly for a car this size, there isn't an enormous amount of storage space, in terms of little cubbyholes etc. The two main storage areas (in front of the driver and front passenger) are smaller than in a standard ca
r, and the tiny storage bins above the sun-shades are only really useful for storing glasses. However, I'm in no doubt at all that the Multipla is the best car I've driven, and will give us many happy years of motoring. And at least if I'm driving it, I don't have to look at that ugly exterior!!!
I loved the look of this car when I saw the photo's of it as a concept back in '96. Last week I finally bought one! A JTD ELX in Canary blue. It is by far the best car I've ever had, and one of the best I've ever driven (and I've owned and driven a lot of cars). I admit that the looks are very much an aquired taste - either you love them or loathe them. One thing you can't do is ignore them! Personally I'd rather drive something that looks different than yet another eurobox like a Golf or an Astra. We are a family of five, with children aged 3,13,and 15, and they all love the car and make excuses to go out in it. Of course I say no every time (yeah, right I do!). The Diesel engine is brilliant - powerful, torquey, and quieter than a lot of petrol engines (except at idle of course). We've done 380miles so far and the fuel gauge is showing just below half a tank (65litres), so economy looks good too. Build quality is very much better than you might expect from Fiat - there's no rattles or squeaks - everything is just really well screwed together and very well designed. The ride quality is sublime, the handling fun, and road noise on the Firestone Firehawk 700's virtually non-existant. We can converse in normal voices at 80+mph with the stereo on at a decent level. You can't say that about many 'mainstream' cars let alone those fitted with a Diesel engine! A note about the width:- I get sick of hearing people complain about this, yet no-one seems to complain about the width of a Land Rover Discovery or a Mercedes 'S' class, which are wider still. And a Multipla is an awful lot shorter and very easy to park - honest! Those van like mirrors (my wife calls them ears) are excellent, and the parking sensors are pretty well redundant. A further point worth making is this:- how do you get sickly children out of the rear seats of a Zafira/Galaxy/Sedona etc before they
throw up? Not easy is it? In a Multi you simply open a door and lift them out - there's no seats to tip forward, nobody has to get out of their seat 1st before you can have access to the rears, you just have brilliant access to all six seats. There is also a good crumple zone between the rear seats and the rear of the car - not something you can say about most other MPV's, especially in the under £20,000 league! In summary all I can say is, if you have a family to transport, put your prejudices to one side and buy a Multi, or at least test drive one. As far as I and a lot of other owners are concerned, there is only ONE family car on the market worth the purchase price. If we could afford to run a second car what would it be? You guessed it; another Multipla!
This is one great car for families. My wife can take the 3 kids and both her parents out whilst I'm at work. The 'styling' really suits her joyfully eccentric personality too. She says she can reach across both front passenger seats and give 2 kids a whack with one movement! We tow a 16 foot 5 berth caravan, usually with my Volvo, but since we bought the Multipla to replace my wife's old Astra I found that it was heavy enough for towing. It is a 1.9 Diesel (JTD SX) with loads of torque for towing and even fully laden with the whole family and a caravan with awning and 5 bikes it manages well on most roads. Mind you it does slow down on motorway hills especially against the wind. Fuel consumption is about 35-40 when solo but down to 25-30 towing. Airconditioning as an extra was really well worth having - it works very well even for demisting in the cold. Now over 12 months old its only had minor faults like water in a headlight and squeaky fanbelt. Its good to know we have a 3 year warranty but its been so relatively fault free. We think its one of the best and most practical cars we've ever had.
My dads old Mercedes finally went bang earlier this year, it was 17 years old and drove worse than a scoda. He had just lost his job so we were looking for a cheap car just to get him around. We ended up with a Reno not much better than the Mercedes. He hated it. So for the next two months we went car shopping. I love to shop, just like most women do, but when it comes to cars; I’d rather not shop. We went to Mercedes and test drive a new a class, and hated it. The seats and headrests were terrible so we gave it a miss. We tried a few other cars and then it came to the turn of the mulitpla. The multipla (also know as… most ugly looking transportation imaginable, please look away) is made by fiat. It has six seats, three in front and three in the back. You may think this is strange but it is very well designed. The instrument panel (yes I know fancy words – my dad was a car designer) has the gear stick on it as well as the normal little bits like a tape player and fan. I personally think that all the gadgets put together looks like a face; this may be intentional, maybe not. The car is a little bit wider than most cars and shorter. It is not much harder to park though (I say this but as I’m 16 I obviously can’t drive to confirm this). My mum does however refuse to try and put it in the garage. So what does this car look like? UGLY!!! It basically looks like two cars squished together on top of each other. It comes in a range of colours, ours is silver. There are a set of headlights on top of the bonnet and another where you find all headlights at the front. The boot is really big and spacious and enough to fit all my shopping bags :) It is really easy to clean. I get paid £5 to wash the car and I hate my mum’s golf, it takes me a good couple of hours to get it shining. This however is easy money, wash, rinse, leather!!! 2 sun roofs. You heard me right 2!!! On
e for the front and one for us kids who sit in the back. My mum has a bad neck and so always moans about how cars hurt it. We always carry cushions to prod up the headrest where it is not designed well enough. However I cant remember her using a cushion in the multipla… yet. The wing mirrors are brilliant on this car. They have two parts. The normal part that lets you see behind like all cars do and then a little bit underneath so you can see the road and things like double yellow lines. This helps us, women drivers, park straight in the parking spot and not all wonky (unless the lines are). So enough with the gadgets, how does it drive. Well I am the queen of travel sickness. I haven’t yet been on a long journey in the car but I have done a 2-hour trip. I loved it. It road brilliantly and I didn’t feel sick. Down country lanes and on the main motorways. This car is a bad travellers dream come true. My dad loves driving it as well. It is not available in automatic yet. However my dad (who is a big fan of such things) hasn’t found a need for it. The car is so well built that it already is not hard to change gear and reverse. 3-point turns are now made easy. That’s about it really. Sorry boys that there are no fancy technical words in here but what do you expect. It’s a great car and if you are looking for a new car (especially a family size one) this one is worth a test drive. Sara
Although I've never actually ridden in one I think the Fiat Multipla is a work of art. If you can't afford a super-car or a roadster, it's got to be the next best thing to get yourself noticed. It may look ugly to some, but so did the Mona Lisa and that's one of the most well-known painting's in the world!! It's a masterpiece in my opinion. It's almost like Fiat split thier designers into 2 teams, and told one to design the roof of a car and the other to design the bottom of a car and then stuck the 2 ideas together. We've all been out their for years complaining that cars are all looking more or less the same, and when something completly original like this comes along, most of us just discard it. It deserves a test-drive. From what I've heard it drives extremely well, and although the interior isn't quite Jaguar or BMW standard, it's not tacky plastic either. Believe me, it will get noticed and in some cases admired. The looks are probably what got you reading this.
It may be uglier than a rhino's bum, but the Fiat Multipla is an amazing car. Only being 4 metres long you would expect there to not be much room inside but thats where you'd be wrong. Instead of the standard 5 seats, an extra one is positioned between the two front seats. This seat and the back ones can also be folded down to reveal tables with integrated drink's holders. There is plenty of leg-room for each and every one of the amazingly comfortable seats (all with 3-point seat-belts) Extra large windows and twin sun-roofs (all electric) allow for supurb air circulation, even before you turn on the air conditioning (that comes as standard). If it's space you are after, the back three seats can be removed completly giving 1900 litres of luggage space. Safety-wise, this car includes ABS, reinforced side impact bars, and driver and front passenger airbags. For those who want to know the technical details, the Fiat Multipla comes in 1.6 16v (Petrol) and 1.9 JTD (direct injection turbodiesel) models, with around 11 and 8 miles per gallon respectively. This car is also available in a host of different colours, and upholstery styles. The comfort of a luxury saloon, the practicality and capacity of a roomy estate and the easy handling and manoeuvrability of a small car, it's no wonder that this car won "Top Gear car of the year " in 2000 and "Top Gear family car of the year" in 2000 and 2001. This car gives one of the best rides you will ever experience in a car (Trust me, i love riding in one) So, any downpoints to this marvelous machine? Only that it is ugly from the outside, and only comes in manual transmission, but this are minor faults to an otherwise perfect transporter.
We're two adults and two toddlers, so in this unconventional six-seater we've lots of space. Our usual arrangement is to fold the front centre seat down, giving extra personal space and a table which is accessible to all. In the back, we remove one of the seats completely, giving lost of extra space for bits and pieces without having to open the boot. Alternatively, it's one little person on each side, with the centre seat folded down to create a second table. When you reach your destination, there's none of the usual scrabble to get out. Little legs can be stretched inside the car. The driving experience is superb - huge visibility, commanding height, more innovations and ideas than you could list (my favourites are the central speedometer unit, which means you look out over a flat dash containing a storage bin; the dash-mounted gearstick, and the aforementioned centre seat/table). Handling is excellent. I'm racking my brains to think of a downside of owning this lovely beast - one seat less than the Zafira, but I don't care. The extra width takes some care and a bit of forward planning. The stares, especially of young males, are entertaining to me but might upset the less-than-committed owner. Discrete it's not. You and yours are very much on show as you roll down the street. At the petrol pumps there is great curiosity from other motorists, but frequently mixed with a dollop of 'not for me, mate'. Oh well, it's most definitely for me!
My daughter and her family of five were less than impressed when I suggested the Multipla as a transport solution . Already her sons and friends had laughed themselves silly at the unusual vision they had seen in their area and my mention of the bench seats non-plussed my daughter. A session in the car changed all that forever.The magnificent view due to the slightly elevated aspect impressed the two tots (unused to seeing outside) whilst the climate control,the twin automatic sun roofs and the comfortable three in a line seats with their reclining facility won over my daughter. The acceleration of the desil(£20 less tax than now) rated as a fun and safety feature. My daughter's husband was overjoyed with the stabilty,performance and economy (see the onboard computer). I was impressed with the"boot" which was capacious and provided an ample buffer from a rear impact. My wife was curious how one could see a following car in both rear mirrors which did not seem to possess blind spots. They all now wave at passing Multiplas who invariably wave back.
It does look odd, doesn't it? No wonder Fiat can't quite work out how to sell it - their latest "3x3" campaign makes it sound like it's a bit less than a 4x4, which isn't quite the point. I test drove the Multipla and the Renault Megane Scenic back to back. Now the Scenic is a good car, full of clever ideas. So are the Zafira and the Premacy. But - the Scenic is a tall Megane hatchback, the Zafira is a tall Astra estate, the Premacy is a modified 323. BTW, the Citroen Picasso wasn't available at the time (March 2000). The Multipla doesn't need all the clever features of its competition because it's quite clever enough already. By starting from the wheels up, rather than modifying an existing design, Fiat have been able to build in what other manufacturers have to add on. Like space - which can't be added on. The Multipla feels very spacious inside. The width combines with the use of light-coloured materials and the enormous windows to give an extraordinarily airy sensation. The three-in-row seating arrangement suits my three-person family just fine. Short trips - all in the front. A great big airbag protects the passengers. And I can use all the space in the back - take the seats out if necessary. Just two of us, or a long trip? Fold down the middle seats and the rear passenger can see forwards and everyone has a useful table. Grandparents to transport? The rear doors are huge and open wide and the seats are easy for older people to get in and out of. The dash is funky indeed. The gearstick is so close to the steering wheel that you hardly have to let go of it to change gear. Citroen and Honda have noticed this and the new Picasso and Civic have dash-mounted gearchanges too. Just like a rally car... The Multipla is no rally car, but it is safe and secure on the road. All the expected safety stuff is there - impact bars, ABS, brake effort balancing, air
bags. This is my first Fiat, and I've been waiting with trepidation for awful things to happen, but after nearly a year's use they haven't. Build quality is OK, stone chips don't rust, it starts and runs well and doesn't rattle. What could be improved? A bit more power wouldn't hurt - say another 20 BHP. The fuel consumption could be better at 33 MPG. The middle seat headrests block the rear view. There's no need for this - they could push down flush as the Scenic's do. Oh, and a side-effect of the huge glass area is that the windows don't fully retract into the doors. As for the styling - what can you say? You can't see it from the inside and if others don't like it, that's their problem. I guess you just need a little self-confidence to be a Multipla owner.
It is perhaps no coincidence that it is a popular taxi in Italy. This car at first recoils you with its looks, and I for one thought that Fiat had made a mistake and nobody in their right minds would be seen in it! We are a family of 5 and needed a family car, we looked at large saloons (we had an Alfa Romeo 164 before, and liked it greatly). We tried the Seat Alhambra deisel (noisy and slow) and Renault Scenic and looked at the Renault Espace (too expensive). Eventually we were persuaded to go for a test drive in the Multipla. We liked it but told the garage that we would think about it. They kept offering it to us for weekends, and even though my wife only likes automatics, having only ever driven them since passing her test, she was won over by the easy to drive multipla. We tried the petrol and the turbo diesel. The Diesel is better suited to this car as it has more low down pulling power, and it fairly quiet and much more economical. We get up to 50 mpg on a country run and 44 mpg on average, provided you use all 5 gears and change up as soon as you can. Consumption drops off quite quickly if you cruise above 80 mph, but where can you do that? The kids love it as it gives them a good view out (especially for the little one sitting between mum & dad in the front) and they can have friend along in the back. The deluxe model is worth having with airconditioning and twin electric sunroofs making it light and airy all year around. I would specify the optional side airbags next time. Boot space is adequate, and good for the type of car. If we need more we take out one of the spare rear seats, which is easy enough. Insurance costs are low (about £250 fully comprehensive) and services are every 12,000 miles and so far not too expensive. New cars now come with 3 year manufacturer's warranty, which is worth having. The only faults are the tall design makes it difficult to wash, at least if you are not tall, an
d it is about 3 or 4 inches wider than a normal car, so it can be a squeeze in some multi-storey car parks, but the large side mirrors can be retracted from inside the car and we have always managed to get in, even if it means that we all have to get out on one side only. I have shown it to a friend with a similar sized family and even though they always have a Volkswagen Passat estate, they were won over and bought one in record time. MY advice is to put aside your prejudices, try it and you may be won over too!