Fiat’s mid-sized hatchback lineage has had many different names, but to replace the Brava/Bravo models in 2001, the Italian company plumped on the title Stilo for its C-segment Golf-challenger. Available for six years, the Stilo is not the most flair-laden car, but it’s a little bit different from the hatchback norm, which includes the likes of the Ford Focus, the Opel Astra and the Peugeot 307 (from a similar era).
Fiat sold the Stilo as a three-door and five-door hatchback, and also as an estate known as the Multi Wagon; this last variant is one of the very few estates in history, though, which is more ungainly than the model it is based on, so it’s best avoided if you care about such things. A variety of small, normally aspirated petrol engines with four cylinders were offered, in 1.2, 1.4, 1.6 and 1.8-litre guises, while alongside the mainstream range was a 1.9-litre turbodiesel badged as the JTD; all of these delivered between 80- and 133hp. Performance badging included the Sporting and GT models, with 133hp, but the range-topping variant was the Abarth – this used a 2.4-litre, 170hp inline-five petrol engine to deliver 0-100km/h in 8.5 seconds. It was later developed into a Schumacher model, to celebrate the Fiat link to Ferrari and German F1 legend Michael Schumacher. The Stilo wasn’t a particularly loved vehicle when new, as it had less advanced torsion-beam rear suspension than its Brava/Bravo predecessors’ multilink set-up, and few examples survive today – meaning the slightly-more-cherished performance models could be easier to find than run-of-the-mill cars. Gearboxes on the Stilo range were five- and six-speed manual units, and the five-speed Selespeed semi-automatic. This last transmission is best avoided, as it will feel crude and rough in comparison to modern dual-clutch autos.
If you can track one down, it’s going to be one of the mid-ranking petrols – this will serve as cheap and cheerful transport with low running costs. Look for one of the 1.8-litre, 16-valve cars for the best performance without breaking the bank.
Fiat Stilo 1.8 16v Dynamic 5dr
Engine: 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol
Maximum speed: 200km/h
0-100km/h: 10.2 seconds
Fuel consumption: 8.3 litres/100km
• Stands out from other European cars
• Good interior space
• Wide range of engines
• Hard to find
• Not thrilling to drive
• Petrol engines from pre-turbocharged era
The Fiat Stilo is not going to go down as a classic car in any sense of the word, but as a stylish, unusual alternative to jelly-mould C-segment hatchback rivals from the same period in time, it can make an intriguing car to seek out and enjoy.