Italian Workhorse on a Budget

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It’s easy to get carried away with the romance when looking at used Italian cars, the Alfa Romeo Spider will turn heads all day long, the Fiat Coupe is so nicely designed you just find yourself admiring the fine details let alone that lovely 20v petrol engine. However if you’re looking for something to carry more than two passengers and the dog or some large loads from time to time, then the choice isn’t as great. You could pick an Alfa Romeo 156 or 159 Sportswagon, but the cars are that pretty, the thought of using them for anything that might dirty the insides doesn’t sit comfortably. So it’s to Alfa’s sister company Fiat we look.


Your budget: If you’ve got between £500-2000, then the Fiat Stilo Multiwagon, fits the bill. Built between 2003-2007, they have now dropped down in price to the ‘Budget’ category.

Info: As the replacement for the Bravo/Brava, Fiat decided to go all German with the Stilo, square and boxy, as opposed to following Fiat’s usual design flair, this created an overall look of a solid looking car, of which the Multiwagon was the better looking in the range.


The Stilo Multiwagon has a slightly high seating position than its sister hatchback also featuring a clever sliding and tilting action to the rear seats, sliding these forward increases an additional 40 litres of loading space over the normal 470. Although the back seats don’t fold down completely flat, the space is still very good. The rear window is a clever design, opened separately to the hatch, giving you a split tailgate effect.


Two engines where offered, a 1.6 petrol returning about 30-35mpg and the 1.9JTD, the diesel engine offered increased mpg around 45-50, which made it the most obvious choice. The diesel engine had been used in Fiats MPV, the Multipla, the bug eyed people carrier had put the engine through several thousands of miles, having sold relatively well for Fiat, so was pretty well tested.

Build quality: A step above previous Fiat,s the overall quality was good, the interior is nicely finished off and quality good for a car of this class. Fiat also gave the Stilo nice doors that thunk when closing, again a nod to the German cars.


Classic Italian CarWhats it like to drive: The Stilo drives well, soaking up the road bar the most aggressive pot holes, it’s also quieter to drive than its German rivals, giving you the impression your driving something more expensive. With its boxy shape, good visibility and the ‘City’ button, which lightens the steering, this makes it easier to park, especially in tight spaces.

Standard kit on the Stilo was good, electric front windows, 3 point seat belt harnesses, electric & heated mirrors, driver & passenger airbags, side airbag, ISOFIX child seat anchor points, in fact several standard items would have cost you more on an equivalent German car as extras. That’s not to say extras weren’t available on the Stilo, dependant on model you could add climate control, parking sensors & various other items which were just appearing on the market at the time.

Replacement parts for the Stilo won’t break the bank either, with many Stilo’s having been sold most cosmetic parts can be found at car breakers but for other mechanical parts these are very competitive, a clutch assembly is around £150, rear brake pads about £65.


Things to look for:

Springs snap – a common fault to which Fiat had a recall, check to see if these have been replaced

Airbag warning light – connectors under the driver & passenger seat can get loose, check the connectors & clean if needed

Overboost Valve – Sitting under the battery, it is prone to collecting dirt and can sometimes fail

Front lower suspension arms – the bushes on these can sometimes wear so worth checking for any play

General electrics – overall the Stilo was a step up from previous Fiats but it still had some issues with electrics, not unusual for this to be battery related


The Fiat Stilo Multiwagon is a car bought with the head not the heart, unsual when buying an Italian car. As always shop around, there’s plenty on the market, look for a full service history, check and double check things, don’t be afraid to ask the current owner questions. After that you should have found a pretty good Italian workhorse, for you, the family, the dog & anything else you care to throw in that large boot.


*Thanks to EnZari member Stephen Hancock for the photo’s of his ‘Italian Workhorse’, his Fiat Stilo Multiwagon

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