Product Type: Fiat cars
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UPDATED 4\11 Big Bonny Berta
Fiat Multipla in general
Member Name: boscoticino
Fiat Multipla in general
Date: 27/10/10, updated on 04/11/10 (102 review reads)
Advantages: space, range of vision, extra seat
Disadvantages: whingy, neurotic computer
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.
Summary: No buyer's remorse despite niggles.