Used Fiat Brava Hatchback 1995 - 2002 review

Category: Family car

Take the plunge only if it's sound inside and out

Used Fiat Brava Hatchback 1995 - 2002
  • Used Fiat Brava Hatchback 1995 - 2002
  • Used Fiat Brava Hatchback 1995 - 2002
Used Fiat Brava Hatchback 1995 - 2002 review
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Steve Huntingford
Published01 January 2006

What's the used Fiat Brava hatchback like?

This characterful Italian hatch - effectively a five-door version of the three-door Bravo - caused quite a stir in its mid-1990s heyday with its bold styling.

The engines are very much part of that character, with a pleasantly sporty rasp, and even the basic 1.4 petrol (which was later replaced by a 1.2) gives lively performance.


Take the plunge only if it's sound inside and out

  • It's cheap to run and has lively engines
  • The ride is harsh and handling average

Even when they were launched, the ride and handling rated only as average, and the five-door Brava is nothing like as sharp to drive as the Brava. And, whichever you choose, refinement is also poor.

Inside, the driving position suits most shapes and sizes and there's a fair bit of room, and a good-size boot, in the Brava. Best of all, the equipment levels are high and prices are rock-bottom.

That said, these aren't the kind of cars that past owners have cherished, so you should expect them to need regular repairs.

Ownership cost

What used Fiat Brava hatchback will I get for my budget?

How much does it cost to run a Fiat Brava hatchback?

Chances are you could spend plenty on repairs, and there's a risk that the total will soon overtake what you paid for the car, especially as the Brava is so cheap to start with.

In most other respects, running costs are fine. Insurance costs are low, with most smaller-engined models falling into group 4, and even the 1.8 is only group 7.

Fuel economy is respectable, too: you'll get up to 40mpg fromthe 1.2, 36mpg from the 1.6 and 34mpg from the 1.8. Pick a diesel and you're on for up to 51mpg.

An annual service is cheap, and it's easy enough for a local independent garage to do what's needed. Some repairs are costly, though. Clutches take a long time to replace, which bumps up the bill, while working on the suspension is awkward and time-consuming.

Our recommendations

Which used Fiat Brava hatchback should I buy?

The basic 1.4 petrol engine, or the 1.2 that replaced it, was the top-selling model and it's also the best one to buy second-hand.

Either engine is gutsy enough and, anyway, a Brava is best driven in a relaxed style. The stronger 1.6 and 1.8 petrols and two 1.9 diesels that you can also find only serve to show up the limitations of the chassis.

If you must go for one of these stronger units, the 1.6 is good. The other engines don't suit the car particularly, although the diesels are willing and economical, if noisy.

An auto gearbox is available with the 1.6 but it is likely to give trouble after a few years. The manual gearboxes, however, are tough, so we'd recommend sticking with them.

SX is the most common trim - and our favourite - with electric front windows, remote locking and a decent stereo. ELX and HLX, the top two trims, are scarce but provide plusher cabins, alloy wheels and, in the HLX, the air-conditioning and anti-lock brakes absent from other models.


What alternatives should I consider to a used Fiat Brava hatchback?