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What Car? says

1 out of 5 stars

For Decent styling and handling; good engines

Against The load bay is short and the ride is poor

Verdict Its rivals do just about everything better

Go for… 1.9 JTD

Avoid… 1.6 petrol

Fiat Marea Estate
  • 1. Watch for any signs of overheating, such as a milky emulsion inside the oil filler cap
  • 2. The suspension and axles are a common cause of problems
  • 3. The load bay is shorter than most rival estates' and sitting three in the back is a tight squeeze
  • 4. Be suspicious of any engine that doesn't rev consistently, has trouble starting or sounds rough. This could be a sign of an iffy fuel system
  • 5. Catalytic converters can fail and are dear to replace
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Fiat Marea Estate full review with expert trade views

You'll easily spot it in a car park. This estate's smart, Italian looks are distinctive and far prettier than the dumpy saloon version's.

However, like the saloon, the Weekend estate is built on the chassis of the Fiat Bravo, a small family car. As a result, its load bay is shorter than most rival estates' and sitting three in the back is tight. That said, as a four-seater, it's fine. And, although the boot isn't the roomiest, it'll do for most families, and the rear seats split and fold for extra versatility.

You may hear passengers complaining about the firm ride, especially in town. The pay-off, though, is that it goes round corners without too much lean, grips well and has sharp, responsive steering. The engines, too, are eager, although the 1.6 struggles when fully loaded.

Trade view

John Owen

Early cars disastrous, later cars little better. Don't pay over the odds

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

The 1.9 JTD turbodiesels (105 and 100) are our favourite engines, as they suit the car well and are a better bet than the older 1.9 TDs. They're strong in everyday driving, turn in good economy and rev smoothly, but for even more performance, you can track down the strong 2.4 JTD 130 engine.

Of the petrols, steer clear of the 1.6 because it just doesn't have enough oomph for hauling heavy loads. The 1.8 offers more pull for similar fuel economy, but our favourite petrol is the five-cylinder 2.0 150, which is punchy and has a good turn of pace.

Trim-wise, SX cars have only the basics, so give them a miss. Early ones lack air-con and, while all have anti-lock brakes, don't expect much in the way of airbags. Instead, go for mid-specification ELX or range-topping HLX.

If you're shopping for a Weekend, don't expect a lot of choice, even though it is more common than the saloon version. Independent dealers and private sales are the places to look.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Excellent reliability. Expect low repair bills and few visits to the garage

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct

The Marea Weekend is keenly priced, so you're off to a good start. In fact, that's the main reason for choosing one, if we're being totally blunt.

Take care to get a good one, because repair costs for Fiats are higher than average, according to Warranty Direct. At least, routine maintenance is far easier on the wallet, and Warranty Direct estimate that you can save more than a third off the labour bill by going to a good independent garage rather than a franchised dealer.

Insurance holds no fear, either. Our preferred 1.9 JTD turbodiesels fall into groups 8 to 10, and our top petrol model, the five-cylinder 2.0, is the heftiest at group 14. The cheapest petrol model to insure is the 1.6, in group 10.

The 1.6 isn't that much more economical than the other petrols - all give around 30mpg on average. The diesels stretch that to between 40mpg and 50mpg.

Trade view

John Owen

Early cars disastrous, later cars little better. Don't pay over the odds

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

First, check you can get on with the driving position - many don't.

The engines are generally reliable, but watch for any signs of overheating, such as a milky emulsion inside the oil filler cap.

Fuel systems aren't that clever, so be suspicious of any engine that fails to rev consistently, has trouble starting or sounds rough. Watch out for smoky diesels, too.

The suspension and axles are a common cause for complaint, according to claims made by Warranty Direct customers. Listen for clonks and ensure the car tracks straight and corners tidily. The ride is not the most comfortable in the first place, but suspension faults should be easy to spot on a test drive.

We've heard reports of catalytic converters failing and the electrics aren't the most robust (often niggling faults, but sometimes expensive to fix). The interior can suffer at the hands of a family, so give it all a good examination, especially the luggage bay for signs of over-ambitious load carrying.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Excellent reliability. Expect low repair bills and few visits to the garage

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct
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