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

3 out of 5 stars

For The Stilo is a roomy car at rock-bottom prices

Against It has no image and is dull to drive

Verdict Rivals do it all so much better

Go for… 1.2 Activ

Avoid… 2.4 Abarth

Fiat Stilo Hatchback
  • 1. Watch that the car tracks correctly, because Stilos can pull to one side and wear their tyres unevenly
  • 2. Gearbox failures are the most expensive of the car's (several) known problems
  • 3. Go for the five-door model because it rides more smoothly, as well as being roomier and much more practical
  • 4. Head gaskets can blow on 1.2 petrol engines, particularly if coolant changes are left longer than the recommended three years
  • 5. Water can leak into the boot, but it's hard to work out where it's coming from and to fix the problem
advertisement

Fiat Stilo Hatchback full review with expert trade views

There are two very different Stilos. The three-door is set up to be sporty, with less space inside and a stiffer ride. On the other hand, the five-door is more family-friendly. It's roomier, rides more softly, and even has trays on the front seat backs, where rear passengers can balance a picnic or a laptop.

Neither version handles with any great finesse, but at least they are safe, predictable and comfortable. And, the car's four-star occupant safety crash test rating from Euro NCAP is good. However, that's more than you can say for its disappointing one star for pedestrian safety.

Never mind all that, though. The biggest attraction of the Stilo is its price. Its value drops like a stone so that, by the time it's three years old, it's worth only a third of what its first owner paid. After that, things calm down, so buying a nearly new model is not terribly sensible, but a two- to three-year-old car is a bargain.

Trade view

John Owen

Bits could drop off, so take a box on every journey

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

The most basic model, the 1.2 Activ, has a punchy engine and plenty of kit, including remote locking, four airbags and anti-lock brakes. And, because buying a Stilo only makes sense if it's done cheaply, this is the best model to buy. Go for the five-door, though, because it rides more smoothly, as well as being roomier and much more practical.

The 1.9 turbodiesel Activ is also worth going for – the engine is smooth and very economical - but it will cost more to buy than the 1.2. It came in two states of tune, with 115 or 80bhp, but the more powerful one is the one to go for. For one thing, it uses less fuel.

Otherwise, go for the 1.6 petrol, which is keen and quick. There's also a 1.8, but it feels no quicker than the 1.6 and will cost more to fuel and insure.

A 2.4 Abarth hot hatch tops the range, but it's an unruly beast to drive and is scarce on the used market.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Finding conditions very tough, values are falling fast across the range

James Ruppert
Used car guru

Insurance, fuel economy, servicing - all the main running costs look pretty reasonable.

Our favourite 1.2-litre model sits in an attractively low group 4, and most of the others fall within group 7 or lower. The only one to avoid on insurance grounds is the 2.4 Abarth and its group 14 rating.

Fuel economy, too, is good on most of the models in the range. The 1.2 should top 40mpg overall, the 1.9 diesel gets nearer 50mpg, and even the 1.6 petrol is pretty reasonable, with 38mpg.

You can cut your costs further because servicing is straightforward enough to trust a reliable independent garage, so saving on main-dealer charges. Spares are modestly priced, too, although some repairs take longer than they would on a Ford or Vauxhall, adding to the cost.

However, the worry comes because Stilos aren't that reliable. They get a pasting from the JD Power customer survey, suggesting that repairs may well be a regular feature of life with a Stilo.

Trade view

John Owen

Bits could drop off, so take a box on every journey

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

Just when you thought a used Stilo was looking attractive, you have to worry about its reliability. And, it is a worry, so make sure you give any car a really thorough check.

Look out for signs of water leaking into the boot, because it can be hard to work out the source of the problem and put it right. Then, check that the air-conditioning works, because faults are common and repairs can easily top £500. Minor electrical items such as window motors can fail, too.

Gearbox failures are the most expensive of the car's known problems, and head gaskets can blow on 1.2 engines, particularly if coolant changes are left longer than the recommended three years. So, check the service history with a fine-toothed comb.

Last, but not least, insist on a good test drive. Listen out for potential problems from the suspension, as faults are comon, and the only consolation is that shock absorbers are fairly priced, so repair bills shouldn't be too savage.

Watch, also, that the car tracks correctly, because Stilos can pull to one side and wear their tyres unevenly, scrubbing the tread away within just a few thousand miles.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Finding conditions very tough, values are falling fast across the range

James Ruppert
Used car guru
Haymarket Logo What Car? is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media
What Car? is part of Haymarket Motoring
© Haymarket Media Group 2014