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Fiat Bravo Sport 1.4 MultiAir 140

Click to view picture gallery“Fiats Bravo five-door hatch offers
  car buyers in the Focus class a
  stylish alternative to mainstream
  mediocrity. And in Sport guise, it
s
  a smart, well-equipped package...


BRAVO! BUT IT'S MORE THAN THAT in addition to a dash of Italian sexiness, it also possesses a decent dose of brio thanks to the 1.4-litre MultiAir powerplant under its bonnet.

These days, 1.4-litre engines put out a lot more poke than people expect — the old maxim about there being no substitute for cubic inches no longer holds sway because this new breed of high power small cc engines are as powerful as they are efficient.

This 140bhp 1.4-litre Fiat unit delivers as much power as you'll really ever need on our increasingly congested road network. Performance is brisk with the 0-62mph time posted in a quick 8.5 seconds and a top speed of 127mph.

The four-pot petrol engine is eager to please and happy when you use the revs — the six-speed manual 'box is a precise, easy-changer — and with 170lb ft on call from 1,750rpm there's enough torque to ensure good flexibility and minimal gear-changing around town. On the motorway its loping sixth gear helps keep it refined and makes long journeys at a steady cruise stress-free affairs. It's worth emphasising that the Bravo is a particularly quiet car; noticeably so at speed.

“The four-pot petrol
engine is eager to please
and happy when you
use the revs — the six-
speed ’box is a precise,
easy-changer — and
with 170lb ft on call from
1,750rpm there’s enough
torque to ensure
good flexibility and
minimal gear-changing
around town
...”
And you won't need to pull over too often for fuel — a week's hard driving in our test Bravo saw a real-world average of 37.7mpg. Officially it should do 49.6mpg in the combined cycle, 38.7 urban and 58.9mpg extra-urban. Fiat's Start&Stop is fitted to maximise fuel economy but can be switched off (or on again) any time you want.

Adding to the pleasure is an airy cabin that's as appealing as the body that clothes it. Smartly finished with a pair of sporty two-tone seats (black suede livened up by bright blue metallic-effect sections) with soft but effective bolstering and aluminium Sport pedals, the interior is well-considered and easy on the eye thanks to the interesting blend of materials and textures.

The soft-touch, carbon-look upper fascia is all-of-a-piece with neat controls housed in a high gloss-centre console and deeply recessed dials — at night they're lit by a relaxing pale orange glow that makes them very easy to read. Between them is a driver's information display crowned with a pair of smaller gauges for fuel and temperature.

There's also plenty of room for all the paraphernalia you lug around in your car — starting with a useful storage drawer under the front passenger seat, a refrigerated compartment, a large glovebox and ample space for bottles.

Making life better for the driver is a hard-rimmed, leather-wrapped steering wheel that feels good in your hands and which adjusts for both reach and rake, along with a height-adjustable seat and height-adjustable front seatbelts. There's also lumbar support and a front armrest, and you'll find remote audio controls on the wheel.

Visibility to the front through the steeply raked windscreen is fine although the sleek coupe-like styling and rising waistline does mean you get a smaller rear screen. Actually it's fine once you're used to the car and the rear wiper does a first rate job of cleaning almost every inch of it — good news on our more often than not wet and mucky roads.

Rear seat passengers get seats shaped to match the front pair, and decent room to relax in them. And despite them being set low — a consequence of the Bravo's coupe-look roof — they proved comfortable with good foot and knee room. And, in spite of the Bravo's backward-sloping roofline, there's a deceptively good amount of glass so your rear seat passengers aren't short of either light or headroom.

Two riding together in the back can share a wide, padded centre armrest; three in the back is do-able and even the middle rear passenger will have space between the top of their head and the roof.

“The Sport model runs
with a firmer, more
sporting suspension set-
up and yet it rides
comfortably enough.
Roadholding and
handling are predictable
with minimal body roll
and good brakes so
drivers can enjoy the
full 140bhp
...”
The well-shaped boot is big (365 litres) and easily extended when the 60:40 split rear seats are folded down, providing a generous 1,175-litre load bay. While the size is practical, the load bay floor is two-level; but it is flat.

The boot is usefully deep which makes the load lip seem high but the tailgate opens to a head-friendly height and it proved easy to load and unload items both big and small. For its likely occasional flat pack/garden centre usage, the Bravo's cargo carrying abilities are duly fit for purpose.

The range-topping Sport comes with a fair serving of kit including Sports seats, Sports instruments, Blue&Me hands-free 'phone and MP3 connectivity with steering-wheel controls (so you can keep your hands on the wheel when you select your entertainment), cruise control, radio/CD, AirCon, one-shot up/down front electric windows, power adjustable heated door mirrors, Dualdrive electric power steering, Sport suspension, striking 17-inch alloy wheels (finished in graphite with machined spoke faces), red brake callipers and a rear spoiler and sideskirts.

Safety kit includes six airbags, automatic cornering foglights, ABS, an Electronic Stability Programme, Hill Holder (for smooth hill starts) and a five-star NCAP rating.

A five-door hatchback that's roomy enough for five, the Bravo nevertheless lays down a compact footprint — 4.3-metres long by 1.8-metres wide. And it comes in handy in town, parking up, and on the open road.

The Sport model runs with a firmer, more sporting suspension set-up and yet it rides comfortably enough. Roadholding and handling are predictable with minimal body roll and good brakes so drivers can enjoy the full 140bhp; press on and it stays reassuringly tidy.

The Bravo is also equipped with Dualdrive electric power steering which offers two settings: both deliver identical assistance above 19mph but press the button on the fascia if you want extra assistance driving through urban landscapes or for easy low-speed manoeuvring in tight spaces.

There's a lot to cheer in the Fiat Bravo: it's competitively priced, well equipped, looks smart and also comes with a five-year warranty. Family-friendly, it will inject some welcome élan into the family driver's day. What are you waiting for? — MotorBar

Fiat Bravo Sport 1.4 MultiAir 140 | £17,900
Maximum speed: 127mph | 0-62mph: 8.5 seconds | Overall test MPG: 37.7mpg
Power: 140bhp | Torque: 170lb ft | CO2 132g/km