What's the used Fiat Stilo estate like?
Properly known as the Multiwagon, the Stilo estate is a thoroughly practical family car. It has a very low boot floor, which is excellent for getting cargo in and out, and the sides are flat, so you can make the most of the available space.
There's plenty of room for passengers, too, and drivers will appreciate the fact that the steering wheel adjusts for both rake and reach, while height adjustment on the driver's seat makes it a very comfortable place to sit. The layout of the cabin could be far simpler, however.
Drivers will also appreciate the engines, all of which rev smoothly and make a nice noise when they are working hard. That said, the petrols feel rather weak in this estate.
Worst of all, like the Stilo hatchback's, the estate's ride and handling are distinctly average. In particular, when you drive the car hard through a series of bends, the body is poorly controlled, and lurches around uncomfortably.
Advice for buyers
What should I look for in a used Fiat Stilo estate?
Sadly, the Stilo seems to conform to all the negative images some people have of Fiats. For instance, it was rated in the bottom five overall in the 2006 JD Power customer satisfaction survey, and 19th out of 20 models in the Small Family Car category.
Owners reported a host of niggling problems with their vehicles, but if you buy a used one, hopefully at least some of those issues will have been sorted out by the previous owner.
Also, make sure you find out from the previous owner if there have been any problems with premature tyre wear, as some Stilos suffererd from faults in the suspension.
Finally, there was an issue with side airbags accidentally deploying which sparked a recall from Fiat UK. If the car you're considering was among those affected, check in the service log that the sensor has been replaced before buying.
What are the most common problems with a used Fiat Stilo estate?
Is a used Fiat Stilo estate reliable?
What used Fiat Stilo estate will I get for my budget?
How much does it cost to run a Fiat Stilo estate?
It's unfortunate for Fiat that, historically, its used cars generally haven't held their value well. However, that's great news for used car buyers. Depreciation on a new Stilo Multiwagon averages around 60% over three years, which means there are plenty of bargain buys.
A poor performance from the Stilo in JD Power customer satisfaction surveys has also helped to make the car less attractive, further pushing down prices, so make sure you haggle hard for a good deal.
The car's running costs shouldn't be too much of a problem, either. Insurance groupings are low, and fuel economy on the diesel is over 50mpg, whichever power output you buy, so you can expect to go a long way between fill-ups. Petrol versions return somewhere in the mid-30s.
Parts and repair costs are no worse than average, but there are plenty of independent Fiat specialists around who will be cheaper than the franchised network.
Which used Fiat Stilo estate should I buy?
Launched at the end of 2001 (on a 51 plate), the original Multiwagon line-up included a pair of 1.9-litre diesels with either 80 or 115bhp. A 120bhp diesel replaced them both in December 2005.
There were also two petrols - a 1.6-litre with 103bhp and a 133bhp 1.8-litre - which were axed in September 2005 and December 2003 respectively. They both rev keenly, which is just as well: you'll have to drop down the gearbox to get more revs when you want to climb up hills.
From all these engines, our choice would be any of the diesels. Fiat's JTD units have a great reputation and excellent fuel economy.
As well as picking your engine, you also have a choice of three trims: Active, Active AirCon and Dynamic. All feature remote central locking and electric front windows, and we'd recommend the second as the best compromise between kit and cost, although only the latter version comes with alloy wheels, climate control and a CD player.
If you're looking for the ultimate load capacity, avoid models with the optional sliding rear bench, as it doesn't fold flat like the standard fixed one. You might also want to look out for higher-spec trims which have one potentially useful feature: the glass opening separately from the rest of the rear tailgate. Whatever combination you pick, avoid going to a main dealer to buy - there are plenty around at second-hand dealers