road test Fiat Bravo

Fiat might recently have modelled its cars on grocery boxes, but the Italian giant has become innovative and quality conscious in its design. The Bravo and Brava are the most eye-catching mainstream hatchbacks you're likely to see this decade.

The most beguiling of the pair is the Bravo, its slinky skin defining a shape of great muscularity and fluidity. There's a structural integrity about this car that the supplanted Tipo never quite achieved. Much greater crash safety and security, too.

On test the 1.8ELX was hard-edged when extended, but the engine was barely audible when cruising. Wind and tyre noise were well suppressed. I have sat in more supportive seats, but no five-door in this sector has more room or style. I liked the responsive power steering, the solid, all square stance on twisty roads, the firm brakes and the crisp, easy gear-change. Switches and vents all reflect painstaking attention to detail.

Models start at pounds 9,608 for the 1.4S. The five-door 1.6SX Brava, with more boot space, costs pounds 11,424. The 1.8 ELX, with anti-lock brakes, is pounds 13,293. The five- cylinder 2.0 and turbo-diesel will be available later in the year. Fiat claims prices are 3-5 per cent below the competition and even the cheapest model has a driver's airbag, power steering, central locking, engine immobiliser and purpose built audio equipment.

Roger Bell

Specifications

Fiat Bravo 1.8HLX, pounds 12,580 Engine: 1747cc, four cylinders, 16 valves, 113bhp at 5800rpm. Transmission: five speed manual gearbox, front-wheel drive. Top speed 120mph, 0-60mph in 9.7 seconds, average consumption 35.9mpg.

Rivals

Ford Escort 1.8Si three-door, pounds 12,890 Recent improvements in handling and refinement. Lacks Bravo's brio, but the1.8 version car goes well.

Honda Civic 1.6 ES1 three-door, pounds 13,250 Small, high-revving engine gives strong performance. Latest model is prettier than the old "hunchback".

Peugeot 306 2.0 XSi, pounds 13,810 One of the class bench-marks. Pretty, well- packaged car with plenty of zap, fine handling and comfortable ride.

Rover 216 Si three-door, pounds 12,195 Cute new in-house Rover 200 is smaller than the car it supplants, and not as roomy as its Fiat competitor. Lively performance, agile handling and fun to drive.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

    £25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

    £15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Designer / Design Director

    £38000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This B2B content marketing agen...

    Austen Lloyd: Law Costs HOD - Southampton

    £50000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: An outstanding new...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn