We use cookies on whatcar.com to improve your browsing experience and to provide you with relevant content and advertising, by continuing to use our site you agree to this. Please see our privacy policy for more details. Continue

What Car? says

2 out of 5 stars

For The little Seicento looks good and its spirited engine makes it fairly nippy in town

Against It's cramped, runs out of puff and safety equipment is conspicuous by its absence

Verdict It's not too bad in town, but the Seicento is blessed with very little versatility

Go for… 1.1 Sporting

Avoid… 899cc cars/Automatics

Fiat Seicento Hatchback
  • 1. The car's electrics are its weakest point, with a wide range of glitches. Check all the switches work properly
  • 2. The Seicento is seriously short of interior space
  • 3. If you're looking at a high-mileage car, check the engine and gearbox particularly carefully
  • 4. The suspension can a problem, so check it for thumps and clunks on a road test
  • 5. Be certain that any necessary recall work to the brake pedal and brake pipes has been done
advertisement

Fiat Seicento Hatchback full review with expert trade views

City cars aren't normally renowned for their cute looks, but this is where the Seicento steals a march on its rivals. Compared with the high-sided and boxy competition, the Seicento looks like a proper car, but in miniature.

However, there's a good reason that the competition is built that way - it gives more space inside. And, since Fiat chose to go another way, the Seicento is seriously cramped.

The Seicento drives well enough if you stay in town, but its weak engines, so-so handling and patchy ride mean that it struggles everywhere else. It will hit the motorway limit, but it takes an age to get there, and is horribly noisy once it has.

No version is particularly well equipped, and the base car is extremely sparse. But, perhaps the most worrying thing is the omission of basic safety kit. Well, that and the poor two-star Euro NCAP crash test results.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Not a lot of interest in any model now, only the Sporting stands a chance

James Ruppert
Used car guru

Most early cars come with a 39bhp 899cc petrol engine, which is peppy enough around town, but quickly feels out of its depth above 40mph.

The 54bhp 1.1 in the Sporting is better, giving enough performance to make it just about useable out of town. Mind you, the word Sporting is optimistic - its performance is still very limited.

In October 2000, the smaller engine was binned and all Seicentos came with the 1.1 engine, so it's best to find a car from after that date.

Early cars came in S, SX, Citymatic (with a clutchless manual gearshift) and Sporting trims. The base trim had very little kit, and even the Sporting lacked some essentials.

Later on, the three lowest trim levels were replaced by Mia, Active and Sound, but the only real differences were that power steering and a driver's airbag became standard across the range.

So, whatever age of car you're looking for, the best advice is to buy the best specified model you can find.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Average reliability, but watch for engine or electrical problems

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct

It was a cheap car to start with, and prices are rock bottom now that it's older. You can pick one up for significantly less than you'll pay for many other city cars.

If you can stand having such little power, the 899cc car will return an average of 46.3mpg. Don't bother, though, because the 1.1 isn't far off the mark with an average of 45.5mpg.

The smaller engine will pay dividends on insurance, however, as it has a group 1 classification. The 1.1 sits in group 3. For young drivers, that's enough of a difference to make a case for the 899cc unit, provided they only use it in town.

The only bad news as far as running costs are concerned are that servicing costs are expensive for a city car. Although hourly labour charges aren't outrageous at Fiat dealers, some parts are pricey and can be hard to come by.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Not a lot of interest in any model now, only the Sporting stands a chance

James Ruppert
Used car guru

Fiat has a reasonable record for reliability - it usually puts in an average performance in our reliability surveys.

However, that's no thanks to the Seicento, which has been fraught with problems. Owners are constantly forking out for repairs, and by far the most common complaint is the car's electrics, with a wide range of glitches. You're likely to need to fix the suspension, too.

The clutch and gearbox can be suspect on high-mileage cars, so if you're considering a car that's covered a lot of distance, check the service history to make sure that they have been replaced at some point.

Also check the service histories of Seicentos built during 1998 and 1999. Fiat issued three recalls for these cars for faults with the driver's airbag, brake pedal and brake pipes, so make sure the work has been carried out before parting with any cash.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Average reliability, but watch for engine or electrical problems

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct
Haymarket Logo What Car? is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media
What Car? is part of Haymarket Motoring
© Haymarket Media Group 2014