Five engines are available, with an 89bhp 1.4-litre petrol model kicking off the range. Unfortunately, this is only useful as a runaround, because it's a bit gutless. The 1.4-litre Multiair is a much better bet for petrol fans. However, Fiat offers three excellent turbodiesel options - a 1.6 that comes in standard- and low-C02 forms with 118- or 104bhp (the former only with an automatic gearbox), and a 163bhp 2.0-litre.
The Bravo can't match the nimbleness of the best small family cars because its light steering has an artificial feel and there's a lot of body lean in corners. To make matters worse, the suspension struggles to deal with imperfections in the road surface, making the ride jittery.
One of the Bravo's best aspects is its quietness. Road noise is well suppressed, and although there is some wind noise, it's far from intrusive. Engine noise fades into the background at a steady cruise and few manufacturers make smoother four-cylinder diesel engines than Fiat.
The Bravo is competitively priced and large discounts make it cheaper still. However, this has to be weighed against poor resale values. Insurance premiums, tax rates and fuel bills are all affordable for most people.
Many of the panels in the Bravo's cabin don't line up accurately, while the hard, shiny plastics in the lower reaches feel cheap. Fiat doesn't usually perform too well in our reliability surveys, either, and the firm featured near the bottom of the 2012 JD Power survey.
The Bravo was awarded a maximum five-star rating in Euro NCAP crash tests, and twin front, side and curtain airbags are standard across the board. Deadlocks, marked parts and an integrated stereo make life difficult for thieves. You'll also have to pay extra for stability control on most models.
Every model has driver's seat height adjustment and a steering wheel that moves for both reach and rake to help you get comfortable. However, the Bravo's sleek exterior styling takes its toll on rear visibility, with a small rear screen, sharply rising waistline and chunky rear pillars all creating blind spots. Some of the switchgear is confusingly arranged, too.
In spite of that swooping roofline, there's plenty of headroom throughout the cabin, but rear kneeroom is tight compared with the class leaders. Luggage space is far more generous, thanks to the sheer depth of the boot, although you have to lift items over a high load lip, and the rear wheelarches intrude.
Entry-level Active models come with air-con, a CD player, front electric windows and remote central locking, with Mylife trim (available only with the 1.6 105 diesel engine) adding some extra style and technology. Dynamic models feature climate control, Bluetooth and steering-wheel mounted stereo controls, while range-topping Sport trim brings sporty design touches.
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The Bravo has weak residuals, meaning the cheaper cars make better buys. So, although the 1.4 engine isn't the strongest, this model has all the kit you need, and we reckon it is the best model in the range