Product Type: Fiat cars
Newest Review: ... any problems were minor and cheap to fix so when i decided i fancied a change i opted for a fiat stilo active and then began the endless... more
Great looks, shame about the rest
Member Name: bradburyss
Date: 27/08/02, updated on 27/08/02 (7426 review reads)
Advantages: Gorgeous styling
Disadvantages: Steering lacks feedback, Suspension is too bouncy, Interior is drab and over complicated
I initially phoned up to drive a 1.6 Dynamic 3 door, however this was locked up in the compound and the saleswoman that I dealt with couldn't find anyone with the keys to get the car out for me. I ended up driving the 1.8 Dynamic which apart from the engine and ESP (Electronic Stability Programme) has the same equipment as the 1.6.
The test drive didn't get off to a good start with the car being extremely messy inside (although I did receive an apology I had phoned up the day before and expected better) and it was parked at such and angle we spent the first five minutes shunting backwards and forwards to get off of the forecourt (I wasn't driving at this time).
The 1.8 Dynamic comes with Air Conditioning, Electric Front Windows and Mirrors, a Radio Cassette player, Trip Computer, Front Foglights, 16" Alloy Wheels, ABS, EBD, ESP, Remote Central Locking. The are various options available included uprated radios, parking sensors and automatic wipers, height adjustable passengers seat, satellite navigation etc. It is well equipped for the price of £12,835 (£500 more than the 1,6 model)
The 3 door version looks great, although I would recommend wearing sunglasses when looking at the yellow ones (it is a tad bright). It's the sort of car that looks like it's moving whilst still stood still. The Dynamic comes with 16" spoked alloy wheels which look nice and sporty and suit the looks of the car. The front end looks nice and menacing whilst the rear looks unusual with the lights that stand proud of the boot door. However I wouldn't like to guess how long it would be before you scratch the rear bumper trying to put stuff in and out of the boot because of its
depth. The side rubbing strips and bumper strips are black on this model, which looks better than the coloured ones, plus has the advantage that if you do have that parking faux pas it won't notice so much.
Someone ought to have mentioned that there are other colours than black! Everything is the same colour and as the dashboard is very slab like it makes it feel very dark and enclosing.
Being a 3 door the front seats tilt and slide forwards to gain access to the rear. This makes is easier to get in and out of but I certainly didn't make a graceful exit and almost pulled a bit of trim off the bottom of the seat with my shoe!! Also the seat belts are a bit of a grab behind because of the extra length of the doors.
Behind the Wheel
The seat adjusts every which way you want it to, up and down, back and forth etc. etc. The steering wheel also adjusts for height and reach so getting a good driving position wasn't too difficult, however I did feel like I was perched a bit too high even with it set low, and as I have found with quite a few cars, having the seat far enough forward to fully depress the clutch meant that my right leg was cramped up a bit too much. Also there isn't much foot room by the pedals and no where to rest your clutch foot.
The dashboard is unusual, there are the standard Speedo, Rev Counter, Fuel and Temperature guages plus a 2 line LCD display which has the mileometer on the bottom line and the trip computer on the top line. The computer is controlled from a button on the end of the wiper stalk, which for each press changes the information on the display. Usefully you have two sets of trip counters, mpg readings etc. so you can compare the current trip to your overall economy etc. The problem I found is that when you pressed the button the display first shows the option you have selected in words, then takes a few seconds to display the reading. It means you en
d up taking your eyes off of the road much more than you should need to and in my opinion is dangerous. Other manufacturers use a symbol to show what you have selected, which works, this doesn't!
The Speedo and the Rev Counter also posed a problem for me, rather than having a series of dashes for every 5 mph they have dashes for 5, 10, 15 then every 20mph (i.e. 20,l 40 ,60, 80) is a blob. It took me a while at first to work out what speed I was doing especially around town for 30mph limits.
The column stalks are chunky square items which don't feel as nice as round ones, nor do they have a positive click to let you know that you have engaged the indicators fully which was a nusaince at first. I didn't test the wipers as it was a sunny day, but it looks as if you have to turn a ring on the stalk to operate them rather than move the stalk as you do on most other cars.
The Radio and heater controls are set in the middle of the dashboard but are quite a reach away and the controls for the fog lights and dashboard dimmer angle away from the driver making it more of a reach than it should be.
What a disappointment! The first thing I noticed before driving off was that the handbrake didn't release until the button was pushed all the way in and then some, this really shows the lack of attention to detail which plauged the rest of the driving experience. The steering felt disconnected to the front wheels, I knew they were doing something but not exactly what which made it incredibly difficult to place accurately on the road, also the vehicle was pulling quite badly to the left and the steering wheel was off to the left when centered (if that makes sense?!) The suspension picked up everything on the road with a severe rubber bounce. It's difficult to describe but it felt like a layer of jelly had been places between the suspension and the rest of the car. The engine for a 1.8 lacked oomph. It
felt slower and more reluctant to rev than the 1.4 in my Citroen ZX even speeding up to motorway speeds it felt sluggish! The clutch had a very long travel to it and was so rubbery in action that I couldn't find a biting point which resulted in a few near stalls but fortunately no kangooring down the road! The brakes were the opposite and had too much feel almost making myself and the front passenger kiss the windscreen on the slightest touch!
Although the car had only done 3000 miles it felt a lot more and had already developed a few rattles which made themselves apparent. The saleswoman did mention that the 1.6 was a courtsey car and had quite a few rattles and squakes in it. Not good for any car, but unforgiveable in a brand new model.
The car is let down by a lack of attention to detail, and in some places over complication. The driving experience could have been so much better if the steering and suspension had been looked at just a bit more and the interior if they had added a splash of colour (incidentally the Abarth models do get a silver centre console which does improve the interior a great deal). The exterior looks great it's jsut a shame about the rest.