Fiat Qubo 1.3 16v MultiJet Trekking
Front engine guard hints at improved versatility
- Chassis changes make it slightly more versatile
- Lots of interior space
- Functional rear sliding doors
- Offers good value for money
- Performance is sluggish
- Exterior styling not to all tastes
- Some cheap materials in the cabin
- Long boot door hard to open in a tight spot
Fiat's Qubo is a solid, spacious and competitively priced compact MPV, and the arrival of the Trekking model means it can add versatile to that list, too. With chassis alterations and the addition of an electronic intelligent differential it attempts to offer a degree of four-wheel drive adaptability without sacrificing economy.
The Fiat Qubo's practical and highly accommodating body makes the most of its compact, Grande Punto derived platform, and now Fiat aims to make the most of the Qubo's chassis and drivetrain with a special model aimed at more adventurous users.
Fiat has added the Traction+ electronic differential system to the 1.3-litre diesel variant with the idea of offering greater soft-roader potential without the weight addition, complication and fuel consumption penalty of a four-wheel drive system. The system works by braking a spinning wheel and sending more of the engine's torque to the wheel with the most grip.
To compliment the system, the Trekking's ride height has been raised by 20mm to offer more ground clearance, an engine guard fitted at the front and special winter tyres added. Inside, the Trekking model also benefits from the addition of Fiat's impressive Blue and Me multimedia system. Bluetooth telephone integration and a USB port for remote control of MP3 players and their contents are included.
The Qubo's practical compact MPV status remains unchanged. A boxy body comfortably accommodates five adults and folding the rear seats forwards offers up a van-like rear with masses of load-shifting potential. A family friendly design includes two sliding rear doors for extra-easy access with the platform and much of the interior switchgear lifted from Fiat's small car range. A compact, snub-nosed exterior design is ideal for use around town.
Our verdict on the Fiat Qubo 1.3 16v MultiJet Trekking
With the Focus on practical, useful additions rather than mere styling upgrades, the Trekking model adds versatility and more value to the Qubo range. The Traction+ system should by no means be mistaken for a functional four-wheel drive system as it offers only a fraction of the potential, but combined with the increased ride height and winter tyres it boasts more off-road ability than most. The core practicality of the body remains and the diesel engine proves highly economical if less than sprightly.
The Qubo Trekking should prove to be a very cheap car to purchase and run and the additional standard equipment means impressive value for money. The diesel engine offers impressive real world economy while very low emissions also mean it's liable for less road tax than competitors.
Space and practicality
This is the Qubo's trump card and, although not a large car, it makes good use of its footprint. Front seat occupants have head and legroom in spades and, although in the rear there is less legroom, headroom is also in great supply. The rear load area is also usefully big even with the seats up. Attention has clearly been paid to space efficiency, with numerous pockets and storage spaces throughout the cabin and a useful luggage net is also present in the rear.
Controls and display
The layout of the Qubo's interior is straightforward and the centre console is easy to understand on first acquaintance. The comprehensive trip computer takes a little getting used to and some of the controls are located out of sight above the driver's right knee, but the features contained within the Qubo can be mastered even by the most hardened technophobe. The steering wheel position is adjustable and the gear lever positioning is excellent.
For a relatively small-platformed car the Qubo is quite a comfortable machine. The ride quality is decent, the additional 20mm of ride height making a difference to ride quality but adding little body-roll. It absorbs a fair amount of road imperfections and, although ultimate refinement is hampered by road noise, the Qubo is sufficiently insulated for longer journeys.
The Qubo comes as standard with remote central locking including deadlocks, while an alarm system is available as an option. The load area is also covered by a sturdy parcel shelf which does a good job of hiding any valuable items. The useful MP3 connector is placed between the seats, which does mean it is not possible to lock an MP3 player in the glovebox whilst being connected, which would be more useful.
All Qubos comes with six airbags as standard, as well as ABS with electronic brakeforce distribution. Although ESP is not present on the Qubo range, the Traction+ system of the Trekking model does a good job of offering improved grip in slippery conditions, which is clearly a safety bonus.
The Qubo is an undemanding car to drive in many respects, with a short shift through the gearbox and light power steering. A higher than average driving position offers great visibility and a compact and manoeuvrable platform is fuss-free in town and competent on the motorway. Performance from the 1.3-litre diesel unit is sluggish although refined. Much of the performance can be found in the lower-mid range, making stretching the unit's legs largely pointless. Although this means the Qubo Trekking is not the sprightliest it does make it very easy to drive smoothly and economically. The Traction+ system makes soft-road duties more manageable, although it's no replacement for four-wheel drive.
Family car appeal
The Qubo is an ideal family vehicle, with the ability to pack a family and their luggage into a small footprint. Isofix child seat anchorages are fitted to both the rear seats, while the view out from the second row would be a hit with children. The increased versatility offered by the Traction+ system also makes it useful transport for more adventurous family exploits.
First car appeal
The Qubo, although more practical than many first car buyers would need, actually fits the bill quite well. Choose the right exterior colour and it has an interesting appearance, will be cheap to buy and insure and is undemanding to drive. The Trekking in particular has a good specification for a new driver with decent entertainment kit and the additional safety offered by the Traction+ system.
Quality and image
The Qubo's snub-nosed exterior styling is highly subjective; some will love its charismatic demeanour, others will not. Respectable build quality is unquestionable however, benefiting from its commonality with the established Grande Punto hatchback model. Solidly put together and only let down by the occasional piece of average material usage in the cabin, the Qubo Trekking won't disappoint in this area. The exterior styling additions also give the model a slightly more rugged appeal.
Getting in and out of the Qubo is a very simple task, largely thanks to the high roofline. Those in the front seats have large door apertures to get through, while those at the rear benefit from the use of large sliding doors. They require a little more of a shove to open but make for very easy access. At the rear, the tailgate opens easily although it requires a reasonable amount of space to open fully due to its length.
Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)
The Trekking model boasts Fiat's Windows developed Blue and Me entertainment system, meaning the model offers a sound system better than might be expected of a cost effective family vehicle. A CD player and radio are present backed by a USB interface that allows control of an MP3 player through the car's central and steering wheel mounted controls. Bluetooth connectivity for mobile phones is also present.
Colours and trim
The Qubo's bold styling means it looks good in bold colour choices - a palette of nine is available. The Trekking model boasts a chunky looking engine guard that appears from under the front of the car, giving it a slightly more aggressive look. It also boasts unique wheel trims and, of course, Trekking badges at the rear. Inside, the model benefits from flashes of exterior colour and some silver trim to help break up the grey plastics.
The Qubo is a very easy car to park thanks to the boxy proportions and excellent visibility. The short overhangs and a stubby bonnet make it easy to judge and, although parking sensors are optional, it's easy to park without them.
Space saver spare wheel fitted beneath the boot floor.
Petrol engine options - 1.4-litre petrol (73bhp). Diesel engine options - 1.3-litre diesel (75bhp). Transmission options: five-speed manual gearbox, five-speed Dualogic automatic. Trim levels: Active, Dynamic, Trekking.
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