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I have owned my Fiat Bravo for just over 2 years now and bought it second hand on a Y plate. Unfortunately Fiat seem to have a bad reputation- I think due to their older cars, you should ignor this as the newer cars are excellent. I have done 50000 miles since I had the car (in 2 years), and the only parts I have replaced are the exhaust ( standard wear and tear), and a little electronic box called the coil pack (the old car equivalent to the points in the distributor ) as the new cars have electronic ignition. Even when these parts went the car never actually broke down- it has never been off the road due to a problem. Considering Fiat's reputation I think this is quite good. It is a nice car to drive and the handleing is very good (for a standard car), I am comparing this against a Toyota MR2, my last car and my dream car!
It has a 1.2 16v engine so while it does lack power at times it is reasonably quick. I am not a slow driver and I cruise along the motorway every day at 80 mph with no trouble at all, and I have found that it will easily keep up with similar cars with 1.4-1.6 engines, again I am comparing this to an MR2 so for it to impress me shows how good this car is. I don't deny that a bit more power wouldn't go a miss but as for driving around normal roads within the speed limit you can't fault this car. With that said you will understand the great fuel economy of this car, it costs around £40 to fill the tank and I get on average around 450-500 miles, thats over 100 miles to £10.
My bravo had a fiat CD player and a 6 speaker sound system, which sounded great, untill the rollers in the head unit wear out and it would'nt give me my CVD's back. I have changed the stereo for a Pioneer but all the speakers are perfectly good. Although the player did wear out it can happen to any player and cannot really be blamed on a fault of the car. The interior is very nice and comfortable and although mine doesnt have air con it was an option that was available. The back seats fold forward and down to leave an almost flat van like boot. It has driver and passenger airbags, electric windows, remote central locking and a factory fitted immobiliser, again soom of these are options so check before buying.
I don't rate Fiat's after sale service very much, when i had the trouble with the coil pack I took it to Fiat and they charged me £60 just to link it to their testing machine and told me it was the accelerator potentiometer and would cost over £300 to fix. I know a little about cars and wasn't convinced, so I looked at it myself and found the problem to be the coil pack and fixed it myself (four screws and the part cost less than £100). While I was at Fiat I looked at the service price list and worked out that if I had it serviced how they recommend, by them it would have cost me over £1500 in less than 2 years.
A great car for both town and motorway driving, VERY reliable and economical. It is a low insurance group, cheap to run and generally cheap to buy. The only problem with them in general is the depreciation (mostly due to Fiat's reputation), mine was £10000 new and its just turned 4 years old and according to autotrader's automated valuation system its currently worth around £800!!!- this is also due to the high mileage on mine in particular. I would recommend this car especially if the only reason you are holding back is because of what other people are saying. The only thing I would recommend is don't have it serviced at Fiat!!