I have recently traded in my Bravo after four years and 65,000 miles, and found it to fly in the face of Fiat's reputation for poor build quality and unrelability.
I had very few problems, and considering that I covered over 20,000 miles a year in the first two years, I have had nothing major to replace and no major failures. The car started first time, every time, no matter what the weather, and the only things I had to replace outside of the normal (brake pads and tyres) were a couple of shock absorbers.
One or two bits of interior trim looked close to falling off and the ride was certainly harsh and bumpy, but the 1.2-litre engine was lively and responsive. Overall I was sad to trade it in. The only major gripe was the trade-in value, which was next to nothing!
Over the past two years, I've owned two Fiat Bravo 1.8 HLX cars and found them to be, on the whole, cheap and reliable transport.
There were three main reasons for me choosing this car: first, it was cheap to buy due to big depreciation; second, it has only group 8 insurance (I was 21 with no no-claims bonuswhen I bought my first); and third, it has great looks.
I thought both cars handled well, were reasonably quick (as long as it was spinning above 4000rpm) and had a fair bit of decent kit. You get heated seats (although the driver's one always seemed to pack up), electric windows, mirrors and sunroof, and some have a CD changer.
On the negative side, at 80mph on the motorway, it is doing nearly 4000rpm, which, coupled with the noisy exhaust, leads to earache on long journeys and also poor fuel economy. With daily use (and a heavy right foot), I usually got between 29 and 33mpg. The best I ever got was 37mpg.
I also found that parts such as exhausts were quite expensive, and the alloy wheels are very easy to buckle and a new one is £150 per tyre.
On the whole, it's a cheap way to start your motoring career.
I have owned my Bravo for a full year. Everything that could have gone wrong, has. I have stuck with it because parts are cheap and widely available.
The performance of the 1.4-litre engine is impressive if you consider its rivals. The engine, although very nippy, lacks pull. The ride round town is very uncomfortable - you feel the smallest of pot holes, and while the suspension manages to be very hard, it doesn’t stop the car from bottoming out over the average speed bump.
The 1.4-litre petrol engine is very economical in traffic, averaging 39-41mpg. If driven hard, it can drop to as low as 5mpg. Unfortunately, like many other Italian used cars, depreciation is very high - it's well worth considering other rivals which hold prices better.
The car is well refined with little cabin noise. It has a nice, open dash layout with plenty of space. With a height-adjustable driver's seat, and adjustable steering wheel, finding a comfortable driving position is easy. The front passenger has plenty of leg room. There is one cup holder in the glove box, which is at a funny angle, and lacks height. The rear passenger leg room is acceptable.
The boot is not well thought through, however. The load space is too high, and the suspension mounts take up a quarter of the boot.
Having owned two Bravos, I have found this car to be an excellent used buy.
I must have good roads around me because, even though this car has Fiat's 33mm lowered sports springs on it, the ride is not harsh.
Dealers are a bit of a mixed bag, and I would advise going to an independent Fiat/Alfa Romeo specialist.
The Fiat Bravo is still modern looking, despite its design now being 10 years old. Hats off to the Italians for forward thinking.
Trim and equipment levels in the 1.8 litre HLX are good, although perhaps not when compared with some more recent cars.
In town, it's fairly agile but it's definitely been designed to be a great motorway cruiser. The gearing on the 115 HLX is perfect for munching the motorway miles, and at 70mph you are just at the bottom of the power band in fifth gear, leaving ample go to overtake when required.
The fact that this is my second Fiat Bravo (the first was an older base model 1.4 S) should stand as testament to how good these cars are! For a small hatch the 115hlx is surprisingly easy and comfortable to drive, and I make many long trips in it, and hope to do so for a long time still.
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