sporting fiats club Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Introducing the Stilo


Driver Aids


Stilo Range

Model History

Owning and Driving

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Register Interest

A Tale of Two Stilos
Model Gallery

Stilo on Stilo

So we have the replacement for the well proportioned Bravo and Brava. This time under one name. Project 192 became Stilo to the world at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2001. I first became aware of it a few months later when watching telly. An advert. Four adults were sitting in a light and spacious car rhythmically playing with all the switches - and there were a lot of switches to play with.

OK, but cars are for driving aren't they? Well no, not for most people. Most people would rather already be at the other end of the journey - for them driving is to be endured. And in our society we are constantly reminded how allegedly dangerous it is to drive. So cars must be as safe and as comfortable as possible. Something of a super taxi then, one for the family, quiet, competent, spacious and accessible. One day you're going to be in need of a hire car from an airport or similar and you'll get to drive one. On a stressful, bad weather sort of day I think you'll like it. Only thing is one of these versions carries Abarth badges and I was struggling to find much of the usual Abarth-ness about it. We're not going to turn away 170bhp, but if you wanted my honest choice I think I prefer the Bravo HGT.

The Stilos come in 3 and 5 door versions and they are quite different. Fiat have targeted their 3 and 5 door Stylos at the broad mass of the public first and squared up to the Ford and Volkswagen buyers in particular. The Stilo build quality is good by any production standards. Interior space has to be paid for outside, and the chunky solidity of the exterior lines help to disguise the Stilo's width. The cars have the latest fashion in overhung rear valences too. We're all getting wider as a nation. Statistically our average girths are expanding. Maybe we need a wider car. But there's the key to this car's design, I feel. It's statistical. Its been specified on tables with focus groups, modes and means and quartiles and percentiles. A car specified to cover the averages and compete with features.

Of course the 5 door is the taller and the longer of the two - the 3 door has a lower front stance - and a lower driving position, definitely wedge shaped back from the large front intakes and rounded front light clusters. The 5 door offers more visibility, and a much more flexible interior. The rear seats adjust and recline to alter storage and seating space, the front passenger seat can become a table. This car has many features of a small MPV. With the transponder you can enter and start the car without a key. Opt for the Radar Cruise Control and you can set the motorway speed and let the car maintain distance by braking and accelerating. Enter a tunnel and the lights will come on. If rain falls, the wipers will activate. There is a parking distance sensor too. When in town there's also a dual sensitivity electric power steering with a lighter action City Mode.

There's just a bewildering array of electronic gadgets and options. Fiat's market analysis has been working over time, I'm positive, to identify each section of the medium car buying public and address their latest whims. If there is a function or feature that's appeared in the last five years then I'll bet somehow its been addressed in the Stilo options packages. I'll bet too there's some you'll never have thought of.

Stilo Suspension

Under the body design work has continued to keep the Stilo as quiet and stable as possible.

The torsion beam (semi-independent) rear suspension design was first used by Fiat in the Uno, and refined through nineties models. It is employed to reduce intrusion into the rear luggage space. In the Stilo the design is also aided by a hollow anti roll bar, and hydraulic bushes that help damp vibration and increase toe in (feel) during cornering. The front suspension is MacPherson strut, with attention to materials and bushing to keep vibration and road noise to a minimum.

Overall the Stilo suspension is a well trodden Fiat design path to successful road suspension. The chassis dynamics are fine for driving and cornering at normal road and motorway speeds. You don't get much of the usual Fiat feedback. The suspension isn't even overly stiff - a Fiat trademark if ever there was one. The Stilos both have a very poised system.

Driver Aids

Add to that the driver aids. Besides ABS there's electronic load brake biasing, traction control on acceleration and braking (separate driving wheel skid control), Brake Assist in emergency stopping, high speed stability control, an Occupant Classification Sensor so that the airbags deploy not only with two levels of acceleration according to the severity of impact, but also detect if the front seat is occupied or not. If not the airbags on that side do not deploy. Fiat's acronyms for these are ABS, EBD, ASR, MSR, BRAKE ASSIST, ESP and OCS.

I won't go into the voice activation and memory systems, partly because of the emotional scarring I received at the hands of a Mercedes about a year ago trying to programme the voice controls, or should it be the voice stuff programming me? Perhaps it was because it was in France and I didn't have the right accent. Different maker and car I know.

Engine Options

Here again Fiat have some of the class leaders in engines to choose from. For the UK market there are 5 engine options. Put into the Stilo and the power available is deceptive because of the limited feedback and noise damping solutions built in. These include a drive by wire system, so some of the usual pedal connections to the under-bonnet orchestra are missing.

Turbo Diesel

The UK received only one of the continental diesel options available - the latest turbo diesel with a Garret turbo charger and intercooler accompanying Fiat's Unijet common rail injection system. This one can really be persuaded to go some with the right boost, chip and injectors. But for now it is merely one of the best diesels around.

2.4 20v

The 2.4 20 valve Abarth delivers its 170bhp with little fuss. From the Brava HGTs and Marea we know this is about the power limit from this engine before the miles per gallon start to plummet. A viceless, smooth 5 pot, with the established long service interval.

1.6 16v, 1.8 16v

As with the 2.4 litre, the 1.6 16v and 1.8 16v engines twin cams have been developed with space and weight saving in mind. All benefit from the variable valve technology/ hydraulic tappet design pioneered by Fiat in the nineties. They are well established,  and familiar to the Fiat dealerships so maintenance should not be a problem.

1.2 16v

The lightweight FIRE 1.2 16valve was first introduced during 1996 with the Punto Sporting. It has been an unqualified success to date. I would suggest, however that the Stilo is a much heavier vehicle and I'd like to know how the two get on together from any owners.

The Stilo Range

Fiat have combined the engine and trim choices as follows:

There are three levels of trim - Active, Dynamic and Abarth.

Under the Abarth trim choice only the 2.4 litre 5 cylinder engine is available. Also this year the Abarth can be chosen with a manual gearbox. Until now the Abarth came with the Selespeed automatic change only. There are another four gearbox options in addition to the Selespeed. As yet there is no 2 litre engine option for the Stilo.

The increasingly popular 1.9 JTD turbo diesel is offered with Active or Dynamic trim, while the 1.2 16v lightweight FIRE engine is available with only the Active trim level.








Fuel Consumption (mpg)

1.2 16v  80bhp@5000rpm





1.6 16v 103bhp@5750rpm








1.8 16v 133bhp@6400rpm





2.4 20v 170bhp@6000rpm





1.9 JTD 115bhp@4000rpm






Comfortable yes, versatile yes - Fiat's own brochure words. Stilos are mileage eaters, and very efficient. When I see an Abarth badged car describe as comfortable though I begin to wonder if something odd hasn't happened. I wonder what the Italians think of these Stilos? And I wonder what Fiat's designers think?

I've heard the words 'un-Italian' applied to the Stilos. That made me smile. Because I've heard it before. The last time I recall it was the Strada/ Ritmo - and Fiat responded with confidence in a magnificently Fiat-like way with a new breed of Ritmo. Sometimes history does repeat itself - we could do with a Stilo like these, and another one to rival the Alfa medium saloons too. Then Fiat would really be covering the market and the choice wouldn't merely rely on massed electronics. Is that it - is that the marketing message? Give up on Fiats - we have a mass market to service, if you want to do Sporting buy an Alfa?

What would it profit a car if it tries to gain the whole market, but loses its soul?

The Stilo is a real cracker of a family car. The ultimate in efficient roomy taxis. But it just doesn't awaken the latin undercoat of my dry Anglo Saxon genes. It wouldn't raise my pulse just to know it was sitting outside on the driveway. And with a name so close to 'Stile' I prefer more Latino in my driving style. Under it all I'm a Salsa not a Waltz sort of guy, that's all.

Owning and Driving the Stilo

We don't have enough data on the Stilos to advise on buying and owning them yet. That's where you guys and gals come in! Email your comments on the Stilo here.