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FIAT Bravo Eco 2008 Road Test

Sat, 07 Jun 2008

Tax, the price of oil and particularly the UK price of diesel mean that ECO is becoming increasingly important. Every manufacturer now has an mid size ECO diesel: Citroen with the C4 1.6HDI EGS, Peugeot with its 1.6HDI 308s, Ford with its Focus ECOnetic, VW with its Golf Bluemotion, and now FIAT with its new Bravo 1.6 Multijet.

These days, instead of offering performance none of us can legally use, manufacturers put their finest minds to work on reducing CO2 and increasing economy. I’m currently running a Ford Focus ECOnetic that is turning in a remarkable 62.4mpg, the best economy of any car I have ever driven.

FIAT has tackled this too, but in a slightly different way.

FIAT Powertrain Integration Manager Gianluca Sapia explained. And managed to apply as much charm to emissions control as Julie Eckersley does to the news.

He told us that FIAT has overcome its diesel EGR valve problems by using a DC motor instead of a solenoid, allowing much more precise control. The diesel particulate filter is located close to the engine where exhaust gases are hotter and help it regenerate more efficiently. The entire engine weighs a mere 170 kilos. The injection pump works at a pressure of 1,600 bar. Belt cam is used rather than chain cam because it’s lighter. The turbo is water-cooled. Maximum torque is developed from 1,500rpm. A six-speed transmission is employed, with 5th giving 32.5mph per 1,000rpm and 6th 37.5mph per 1,000rpm.

There are actually two versions of the new engine for the UK. The 120PS has a variable vane turbo and is EU5, two years ahead of the need to be. The 105PS Eco version we drove is fixed vane turbo, EU4 and yet chugs out just 119g/km CO2, putting it into the £35pa tax bracket and possibly making it London C Charge exempt from 27th October.

It’s the same beautifully styled car I’ve driven before in different guises. And the speedo remains very difficult to see behind the left side of the steering wheel rim. So it’s best to run with the lights on and the digits illuminated.

The 6-speed box has excellent change quality. There is ample torque from 1,500rpm. And great potential for motorway economy with that very high 6th gear.

Cross-country, though, it isn’t spectacularly economical. We compared figures with other drivers and they ranged from 47.9mpg to 54.8mpg. I got 53.3mpg, thinking I was driving it much the same way as my five speed Focus ECOnetic. Ford says that they went for five rather than six speeds in the ECOnetic because five worked out more efficient on average.

But, with great respect to Ford, the Bravo 105 Active Eco lists at just £14,150, quite a long way short of my Focus 1.6 ECOnetic that kicks off at £16,550 before the extras.

Both cars will be discounted (though not by as much as models not so much in demand). And that £2,400 gap will take a lot of 9.1 mpg advantage to pay back. (Though, of course, these are only my own personal comparative figures over a relatively short test.)

Last year FIAT Group made a trading profit of 3.2 billion Euros. In the first three months of this year FIAT made its biggest profit in its entire 109 year history. There are already 10,000 Bravos on UK roads after its first year.

So if you buy a FIAT (as I recently did), you don’t have to make excuses.

A Bravo is a very viable alternative to the opposition. And if all the bravos you see appear to have their sidelights on it’s so the drivers can see their speedometers.


Original Bravo preview test at www.honestjohn.co.uk/road_tests/index.htm?id=262

Test of Bravo 1.4 petrol T-JET 150 at www.honestjohn.co.uk/road_tests/index.htm?id=318

For prices, specifications, dimensions, capacities and performance figures, please click the tabs.

To link straight to FIAT, click www.FIAT.co.uk

Build your own Bravo at www.fiat.co.uk/showroom

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