February 7, 2008

Road test: 1997 Fiat Brava.

In 1995, Fiat replaced its Tipo with the Bravo and the Brava. The Brava was a five door sedan and the Bravo was a three door sedan. This particular article will focus on the Brava but both models got the coveted European Car of The Year award in 1996. How does that distinction hold up twelve years later? Let's find out.

It's a very spacious car inside. The dashboard is neatly layed out and everything is easy to get to and operate. The glovebox doesn't lock which is a small concern when you leave it in a parking garage every day. The cloth seats are a touch on the firm side but very supportive. The build quality inside is surprising for a Fiat. The trunk is much larger than you'd expect, you can fit a fair bit of stuff back there. The back seat is adequate as well-- two full size adults can sit there comfortably. The C pillar creates a huge and potentially dangerous blind spot, it would have benefitted from an extra window.

Under the hood lies a 1.4 liter inline four cylinder mated to a 5-speed transmission. The whole package is mounted transversally and turns the front wheels. Fiat never offered a 6-speed which is a shame. At 130km/h (speed limit on French highways, which any person who was driving in the 1970s and 1980s will complain about) in 5th, the engine is running about 4,000rpm.. if for no other reason than to keep gas mileage down, a 6-speed transmission should have at least been offered as an option.

The car is fairly quick considering the engine size. It handles pretty well too, you can have some fun with it on curvy backroads. Where this car really shines though is on the freeway. Unlike some of its predecessors, it's very stable at high speeds, making it an ideal car for long freeway trips.

However, and I hate to say this, but it's a ten year old Fiat. It's not as reliable as some of its competitors, namely the Peugeot 306, though I believe it fares better than the Renault Megane of the same era. There are no major problems with it, just little things (especially of an electrical nature) that nickel and dime you.

All in all they're a good value in the used car market but they're hard to find in decent shape and their resale value is next to nothing. But if what you're looking for is cheap and relatively recent point A to point B car you can toss around every now and then, the Fiat Brava/Bravo duo is worth a look.

1 comment:

andrew said...

ronan, you need to make these photos clickable. they are too small.