Car Test   R0315
 
February 2003
First Drive Fiat Stilo Multi Wagon
Printer Friendly Page Featured model: 1.8 Dynamic
This new Multi Wagon completes the Stilo range, which was introduced here last spring. As its name suggests, Fiat intends the newcomer to be viewed as more than just an estate car, claiming that it also combines the flexibility and versatility of an MPV.
  
   Itís hard to see quite how, since the only concession to its people-carrier status is the fact that itís 4cm taller than the five-door Stilo, with higher seating as a result. The seats themselves (just five of them) are firmly bolted to the floor.
  
   Anyway, semantics aside, the Multi Wagon is difficult to criticise in its role as a commodious cargo carrier, with a smartly trimmed load space roomy enough to challenge those of arch rivals Focus, Golf, Astra et al. And with no side intrusions, itís such a sensible cubic shape, too. It claims to have the lowest load deck in this class, thanks to inclined rear dampers, and also boasts a plastic-topped bumper than acts as a handy flat sill.
  
   Loading is via a high-lifting tailgate or through an optional opening tailgate window, and thereís a ski flap for long things. Even longer items can stretch from tailgate to facia if the front passengerís seat folding backrest is specified. The roller blind pulls out and locates easily, and four lashing eyes, a shopping bag hook and a 12v power socket are provided.
  
   Folding the 60/40 split back seats almost doubles the load length. However, you can opt for sliding back seats; the Ďbootí can then be extended by as much as a generous 16cm, but you obviously lose rear kneeroom in the process. The main snag with this facility is that only the backrests tip forward, so you end up with a substantial step in the load deck.
  
   From the centre of the car forward, youíre in standard Stilo territory. There are plenty of seat and steering wheel adjustments, but the way that only the cushion raises and lowers wonít suit all drivers. The soft-feel facia, and especially the centre console, are busy with buttons, but all the controls are within easy reach. All round vision is first class.
  
   Four engines (two petrol, two diesel) are offered Ė we drove the 1.8 petrol. This twin-cam, 16-valverís 133bhp makes it a lively, gutsy performer, helped along by an excellent gearchange. Itís a pity that it becomes so vocal when you work it hard, but main road cruising is a good deal more relaxed; the same can be said of the ride, yet even on poorer surfaces the suspension copes reasonably well.
  
   The Multi Wagon corners competently, too, although it lacks the Focusís deft steering and responsive handling. We like the two levels of power assistance, though Ė the City mode is a boon when parking and is a great asset, in general, to the less muscular.
  
   Knee and legroom in the back are excellent; indeed, thereís a lot of room all round, with plenty of window space, as well. Itís a really congenial and comfortable back seat for two (not so good in the centre), especially if you opt for the sliding/reclining seat.
  
AT A GLANCE
  considering size, price and rivals
Controls/displays
Handling/steering
Comfort
Space/practicality
LIKES ...
  • rear side airbags available
  • facia finish reduces screen reflections
  • central air supply to rear - as well as footwell vents
  • classy fader on the 'house lights'
  • rear head restraints lower flush with backrest
and GRIPES
  • gloomy, recessed instruments
  • excessive thigh support for shorter drivers
  • no left footrest (no footspace)
  • easy to hit heated-seat switch by mistake
  • 'space saver' temporary-use spare wheel
VERDICT
The Stilo may not be the brightest candle in the
C-segment chandelier, but this Multi Wagon version is one of the most practical load-luggers in its class. Expect MPV versatility and youíll be disappointed, but if you want practical load space and plenty of it, this soundly engineered estate car will deliver.


BRIEF SPECIFICATION
engine 1747cc, 4 cylinder, petrol; 133bhp at 6400rpm, 119 lb ft at 3500rpm; 16 valves with double overhead camshafts and variable valve timing
drive front-wheel drive, 5-speed manual
suspension front: independent damper struts with integral coil springs, anti-roll bar
rear: torsion beam axle with coil springs and inclined telescopic dampers, anti-roll bar
wheels/tyres 6.5in alloy with 205/55R16V tyres (optional 215/45ZR17W tyres on 17in alloys on test car); temporary use spare
brakes ventilated discs front, solid discs rear with electronic ABS/brake assist, brake force distribution and stability control
0-62mph* 10.8sec
official mpgß 24.1/44.8/34.0
maximum speed* 124mph
CO2 emissions 197g/km
* maker's figures  ß urban/extra urban/combined

THE STILO MULTI WAGON RANGE
body 5-door lower-medium (mid-priced) estate car   trim levels Active, Active AirCon, Dynamic
engines petrol: 4 cylinder/1.6 litre/103bhp, 4/1.8/133
diesel: 4/1.9/80, 4/1.9/115
  drive front-wheel drive, 5-speed manual only
notable features available sliding/reclining back seat, fold-down front passenger's seat, louvred glass sunroof, cooled glovebox, Dualdrive electronic power steering, 'My Car' personalised car functions, trip computer, speed-related stereo volume, speed limit buzzer, parking/rain/dusk sensors, Connect Nav


SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
  in centimetres (x)
  steering
   
  easy to park/garage?
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