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Click for pictures“Why buy a Ferrari
  when you can have
  one of these!”

IF YOUR F-WORD is Ferrari but your budget hasn’t yet hit six figures, don’t despair. For around £80,000 less than one of Marnaello’s finest you can own one of Fiat’s own-label, in-house alternatives to the fabled prancing horse.

For less than £25K you’ll get sultry Italian thoroughbred looks and a brawny 220bhp, 20-valve five-pot 2-litre engine, good for 155mph and 0-60mph in 6.5 seconds. And, unlike any coupé you care to name, Fiat’s Coupé has most definitely not been based on a staid saloon sibling as something of an afterthought to boost sales of the more mundane models in a range.

Look at Fiat’s striking and sexy Coupé, resplendent in flawless metallic royal blue paintwork, and ‘compromise’ is the very last word that comes to mind. Okay, so it’s a cliché, but it has to be said: even standing still the Coupé Turbo Plus looks as though it’s going somewhere — Fast.

And you don’t have to go far to discover that the Coupé is as exciting to drive as those smouldering looks suggest. Its 110bhp per litre makes the Coupé Turbo one of the fastest 2-litre production cars around,
so there’s more than ample power to play with. And every single one of those 220 kicking horses is harnessed to a nimble chassis via a six-speed gearbox. Although its assertive looks cry out for the open road, a good steering lock, light clutch, smooth gearchange, and abundance of torque makes town driving a doddle — leave it in third for near-automatic progress!

Point the bluntly purposeful nose out of town, however, and you quickly feel the Coupé Turbo straining at the leash. There’s a whole lot of joy to be had on sweeping country roads, where the lucky driver can truly appreciate the communicative steering and the Turbo’s predictable, front-wheel drive handling traits. ABS-assisted Brembo brakes (painted bright red and brazenly prominent through the angular 16-inch alloy wheels) are powerfully reassuring. Despite the very usable reserves of serious power to hand fuel consumption, at 29mpg overall, is outstandingly good for the performance.

The comfortable interior is crisp, almost Minimalist, and strikingly set off by the startling, body-coloured, painted metal dash and white background instrumentation. Inside, it’s much bigger than you would imagine: a real four-seater. Recaro seats are supportive, and a steering wheel that adjusts for height and depth a real boon (still
a disgraceful omission on far too many expensive cars). And that red push-button ignition on the fascia never fails to generate a frisson
of excitement every time the Coupé is fired up.

Fiat give you a lot for your money: standard kit includes ABS, remote central locking, twin airbags, power steering, tinted glass, power windows/mirrors, black leather upholstery with red stitching, leather covered steering wheel, automatic air conditioning, smart alloys wearing 225/45 rubber, and Viscodrive traction control. There’s even an easily accessible real-world sized boot with a fold down ski hatch. On top of its sheer driveability, these are good reasons for What Car? magazine to twice nominate the Fiat Coupé as their Coupé of the Year.

Unlike many showy cars of its ilk that are high on style but low on substance, Fiat’s Coupé is a ‘sure thing’. The clincher is the way Fiat have cleverly combined Italian supercar looks with the seating comfort of a refined saloon. And, being built by Pininfarina, this bargain-basement priced Ferrari alternative is as good to look at as it is to look out of. Make mine a blue one!

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Fiat Coupé Turbo Plus
| £24,755
Maximum speed: 155mph | 0-60mph: 6.5 seconds
Overall test MPG: 29mpg | Power: 220bhp | Torque: 229lb ft

--------------------------------------------------------- Fiat Coupe Turbo Plus