Car Test   R0262
August 2002
  Fiat Stilo
Printer Friendly Page Featured model: 1.6 Dynamic 5 Door
So, itís arrividerci to the Brava/Bravo duo that never exactly had punters beating a path to Fiat showrooms. But the Italian giant is predicting that the outgoing modelsí replacement, Stilo, is going to change all that.
   The newcomer is, in fact, two different cars in terms of style, personality and size: the sleeker three-door is more of a sporting driverís car, while the longer, taller five-door, tested here, is the practical family-friend model.
   Fiat admits that Stilo doesnít boast the most technically advanced chassis, but concentrates rather on high-tech equipment, together with interior versatility and upmarket trim.
   Even the entry-level Active models are well equipped, particularly with safety features (including window airbags), while the flagship Abarth runs the gamut of goodies from an air quality sensor to xenon headlamps.
   Top optional feature in the toy department is Fiatís Connect infotelematic system. Itís a sort of electronic Jeeves, based at a call centre near Milan, that will cater for your every (motoring) need.
   Our 1.6 Dynamic goes straight to the heart of the burgeoning lower-medium hatchback sector dominated by the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra Ė and several other contenders, too. Its list price is about LX/LS average, but its equipment list includes rear parking sensors, six airbags, two levels of power assistance for the steering, rain and light sensors (for automatic operation), plus the now obligatory air con button.
   Thereís been a serious attempt to confer MPV-style seating adaptability on this tallish hatchback by providing more-than-the-usual seating variations. Plenty of adjustments keep most drivers happy, as well, although thereís no cushion tilt and the heater/vent controls canít manage air to the screen and face vents at the same time; the underlying seat posture support is good, however.
   So itís easy to be swayed by the Stiloís considerable showroom and brochure appeal, and a hands-on inspection confirms that this Fiat is sturdily built with good attention to detail, inside and out.
   In fact, it weighs a lot more than the old Brava and its reconfigured 1.6 engine struggles to keep up with the pack. Itís also disappointingly vocal at higher cruising speeds. It rides well, however, and corners competently, although its handling responses make it a dullard compared with a Focus or an Alfa 156.
  considering size, price and rivals
Overtaking Ability
Fuel Economy
Security, theft of  not available
theft from  not available
  • rear head restraints recess flush with backrest
  • cooled glovebox
  • tough, thick seat upholstery
  • sensible facia top prevents screen reflections
  • standard rear parking sensors
  • facia vents have insufficient lateral flow adjustments
  • seatbelts chafe shorter occupants' necks
  • no left footrest (or foot space)
  • too much thigh support for some shorter drivers
  • indicators too quiet
Some of our testers are old enough to remember the Fiat 124; in those days Fiats were really fun, but had the build integrity of a biscuit tin. The Stilo is much more earnest, more mature Ė and a trifle dull. This mainstream 1.6ís dynamics wonít give the opposition sleepless nights but itís soundly engineered and the high-quality cabin looks a safe cocoon, as well. We could be talking here about a Volvo of a decade agoÖÖ..

engine 1596cc, 4-cylinder, petrol; 103bhp at 5750rpm, 107 lb ft at 4000rpm; belt-driven double overhead camshafts, 16 valves   transmission 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive; 21.5mph/1000rpm in 5th, 17.2 in 4th
suspension Front: independent damper/struts with integral coil springs. Rear: torsion beam (dead) axle, coil springs   steering electric power assistance; 2.9 turns lock to lock; 10.85m diameter turning circle between kerbs (15.5m for one turn of the wheel)
brakes ventilated discs front, solid discs rear, with anti-lock and brake-assist control standard   wheels/tyres 6.5in steel with 195/65R15H tyres (optional 7in alloy with 205/55R16V on test car); temporary use steel spare

size and type 3- and 5-door lower-medium (mid-priced) hatchback   trim levels Active, Dynamic, Abarth
engines petrol: 4 cylinder/1.2litre/80bhp, 4/1.6/103, 4/1.8/133, 5/2.4/170; diesel: 4/1.9/115   drive front-wheel drive, 1.2 : 6-speed manual, 1.6/1.8 : 5-speed manual, 2.4 Abarth : 5-speed Selespeed sequential automatic

HOW THE STILO 1.6 5-DOOR COMPARES engine (cyl/cc/bhp) revs at 70mph (rpm) 30-70 through gears (sec) 30-70mph in 4th/5th gears (sec) fuel (mpg/CO2) brakes from 50mph (kg/m) maximum legroom - front (cm) typical leg/kneeroom - rear (cm) steering turns/circle (m) overall length (cm)
Fiat Stilo 1.6 16v 4/1596/103 3260 12.2 23.0/35.6 36/179 17/26.5 107 110/79+ 2.9/10.85 425
Peugeot 307 1.6 16v 4/1587/110 3500 10.3 17.4/26.0 37.5/169 12/26.5 107 95/71 2.9/10.9 420
Honda Civic 1.6i 4/1590/110 3550 10.5 17.8/24.5 42.5/157 16/26.5 107 102/76 2.8/11.6 429
Ford Focus 1.6 4/1596/100 3150 10.8 20.1/29.1 40.5/169 15/26.5 107 100/71 2.9/10.6 415
VW Golf 1.6 4/1595/105 3540 10.3 17.3/23.3 38.5/170 18/27.5 111 95/71 3.1/10.4 415
Previous Fiat Brava 1.6 4/1581/103 3470 10.7 19.5/26.2 36/186 27/26.5 102 96/73 3.1/10.7 419
  + seat fully rearwards

Very generous array of driver aids, including 'my car' settings for auto wipe and lights, plus rear parking sensors. Stalks' rotating turret switches can confuse and dials dim in some daytime conditions.
Two levels of power-assistance should suit most drivers - we liked the 'City' mode. Grippy cornering on (optional) wider wheels/tyres, but ultimately lacks on Alfa's eager, alert response.
Firm, supportive seating and a reasonably tranquil ride over most bumps. Competent air con, but noise from underbonnet intrudes past 60mph; some door seal hiss and road rumble, too (on 55radials).

This new model's sturdy build (but no more power) results in disappointing acceleration, compared with its counterparts - and it's predecessor. Gear change a bit clingy and accelerator rather 'sudden'.
  acceleration in seconds through gears* 4th gear 5th gear
  20-40 3.7 12.0 17.4
  30-50 4.7 11.3 16.6
  40-60 5.8 11.6 17.2
  50-70 7.5 11.7 19.0
  30-70 12.2 23.0 35.6
  max speed in each gear (* using 6250rpm for best acceleration)
     gear      1st*      2nd*      3rd*      4th*      5th
     speed (mph)      31      56      81      107      113 (5250rpm)

That extra 160kg on the well-endowed Stilo Dynamic takes its toll at the pumps, despite the reworked engine's lower emissions. Filler will spit back near full, on the forecourt. Disappointing.
  type of use (air conditioning off) AA test (mpg) 
    urban (17mph average/heavy traffic) 23.5
    suburban (27mph average/6.4 miles from cold start) 30
    motorway (70mph cruising) 35
    cross-country (brisk driving/20 miles from cold start) 37
    rural (gentle driving/20 miles from cold start) 42
    overall mpg 36
    realistic tank capacity/range 50/400
    official mpg (urban/extra urban/combined) 27.4/48.7/38.2
    CO2 emissions 179g/km
    car tax band D

A plethora of airbags with the front ones progressively responding to the impact severity - as do the belt tensioners; convenient head restraints. A fuel cut-off system prevents spillage.
  from 50mph (with ABS/brake assist)
This model has not yet been
tested by EURO NCAP
pedal load     stopping distance
unhurried 10kg     36m
sudden 17kg     26.5m best stop
+4kg ie 21kg     27m
fade resistance/consistency    
Euro NCAP = European New Car Assessment Programme: independent crash safety tests evaluating protection for occupants and pedestrians in an offset frontal collision, side impacts and pedestrian strike conditions
click here for more NCAP details/test results etc.

A comfortable back seat that's slide-mounted to suit varying people and cargo needs. It also gives rear rake adjustments, but doesn't fold completely, so the extended deck is uneven. A handy folding front seat/table is also provided.
  in centimetres (5-door hatchback)
  length 425
  width - including mirrors 194
    - mirrors folded 177
  height 153
  load sill height (inside/outside) 20/71
  turns lock-to-lock 2.9
  turning circle (metres) 10.85
  easy to park/garage?
  front - legroom 86-107
    - headroom 94-100s
  rear - typical legroom 100-110b
    - typical kneeroom 63-79b
    - headroom 90
    - hiproom 131-136
  load area
  load space (all seats in use)
(litres/cu ft)
  load length 79-62b-135
  load length to facia 230
  load width 101-117
  load height (to shelf/to top of aperture) 56 87
b seat fully forwards/fully rearwards  s no sunroof

Optional alarm but deadlocks, remote handset and the other standard conveniences work well. The tailgate can be unlocked separately (for shopping) and relocks again on closure. Luggage not secure from the interior, however.
central locking  
remote control  
remote window closing  
alarm (perimeter + interior)  
self-locking doors (static and drive-off)   
two-stage unlocking   
attack-resistant glass   
'see-me-home' lamps   
AA load area security rating
=standard    =option    =not available
NCSR - "theft of" not available
NCSR - "theft from" not available
NCSR = New Car Security Ratings: a 1 to 5 star system which rates anti-theft protection, both of the car itself and the theft of valuables from within the car
Visit for more details
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