just-auto.com

EXCLUSIVE: ITALY: Five-door Fiat Stilo to challenge Euro MPVs

By just-auto.com editorial team | 16 February 2001

Fiat's new compact hatchback will be called Stilo and replace the Bravo and Brava soon after its international public debut at the Geneva Motor Show next month. The five-door version is expected to rival current European mini-MPV (minivan) models such as Renault's Scenic and General Motors' Opel/Vauxhall Zafira.

The Stilo "represents a generational leap forward in the medium-sized compact car sector [and] is set to re-establish Fiat as a major player in this sector of the European market," the Italian auto maker said in a pre-release statement.

New Fiat Stilo 5-door will challenge Renault's Scenic

The Stilo (the name is derived from the word 'style' in various European languages) will be sold in three and five-door versions, with each, like the Bravo and Brava models they replace, different from each other in terms of styling, character and dimensions, especially height.

The five-door Stilo is 4.25 metres long, 1.76 metres wide and 1.51 metres high, on a wheelbase of 2.60 metres. The three-door model has the same width and wheelbase, but is 4.18 metres long and 1.46 metres high.

The driving positions differ between the two body styles because the key H-point, the height of the driver's seat above the road, is lower in the three-door version. The increased height in the five-door provides easier passenger access, more space and a better view of the road.

Like the latest Honda Civic and upcoming Peugeot 307, the five-door Fiat Stilo merges the styling of the traditional five-door European hatchback with the added practicality and high riding position of the increasingly popular mini-MPV (minivan) Scenic, Zafira and even Fiat's own quirkily-styled Multipla.

Latest 5-door hatchback generation is aiming for established mini-MPVs like GM Europe's Zafira

The latest generation of hatchback/mini-MPV 'crossover' vehicles, like the Civic, 307 and Stilo, are expected to create a growing niche in the keenly-fought European family hatchback market sector for themselves.

Fiat says the Stilo brings the advantages of an MPV to a more traditional formula because it is easy to get in and out of, there's a lot of space inside, and the driving position is higher, to make the driver feel more in control.

The car is also modular and adaptable because one front seat can be folded forward and the two rear seats moved fore and aft and reclined independently making it easy to adapt the car to the needs of the moment. Just like a Scenic, in fact.

Three and five-door Stilos share the same safety features and equipment specifications which are likely to be generous by current class standards.

Both will be launched with a choice of four petrol engines and two common rail turbodiesels.