Jeremy Clarkson - Fiat Bravo

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Oct 14, 2007.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Staff Member

    Jul 6, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Call me stupid, but I like it


    October 14, 2007


    The new Highway Code is full of many worthy and ethnically balanced tips for making the world a greener and safer place. You can’t smoke. You can’t leave your engine running unnecessarily. You can’t apply make-up if it’s been tested on cats. And if you must eat at the wheel, make it a biodegradable pot of fairtrade hummus and not some corporate ghastliness like a Big Mac. There are also many rules for the elderly. Motorised wheelchairs, it says, should be driven on the pavement wherever possible, at no more than 4mph. And if the driver does have to venture on to the road, he or she should think about wearing a high-visibility jacket, especially when negotiating roundabouts.

    Strangely, however, the vegetarian lunatic who wrote all this guff has no specific advice for older people who have not yet got themselves a Stannah stairlift on wheels. The three score and tenners who still have a car. I do, though. And here it is. Get a bloody move on.

    I want to make it absolutely plain at this point that I have no beef against the older generation. They fought Hitler. They invented coal. They made a quarter of the world pink while eating nothing but cabbage. And I’m grateful for all that. But if we delivered your meals on wheels at the speed you drive, you’d end up with botulism.

    There are no depths to which my shoulders will not sink when I happen upon a spotlessly clean Peugeot – and it is almost always a Peugeot – that is being coaxed along the highways and byways by someone whose ears are so big he can use them to pick up the shopping channels.

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    Of course, the poor old chap is in no rush. He has spent his life relentlessly dodging Nazis and diphtheria. He has worked his fingers to the bone for 40 years. And now he’s retired, he can slow right down. Potter to the potting shed. Take his time. Relax.

    Hmmm. If you are Japanese or French, then this is undoubtedly the case, because you will live until you are a hundred and forty-twelve. But here in Britain, the average life expectancy for a man is 77. So, if you are 70 now, there is no time to lose.

    No really. If you only have seven years left, that means the Reaper will be dropping round for tea and buns in about 61,000 hours from now. You therefore shouldn’t be wasting time by pootling to the garden centre at walking pace. So come on, grandad. The clock’s ticking. Pedal to the metal. Or you’ll be in your flowerbed before the plants you bought.

    I was particularly distressed by a piece of geriatric driving last weekend since it was my eldest daughter’s first leave-out from boarding school and I wanted to be there on time. Unfortunately, she has made it crystal clear that I am never – never, d’you hear – to pick her up in any car that is even slightly flamboyant or flash. Nothing with four-wheel drive. Nothing with only two seats. Nothing with a big snarling engine. Nothing yellow. And as a result, I was tootling up the Fosse Way in a placenta red Fiat Bravo.

    It was the sporty version, I’m afraid, but even so, it simply didn’t have enough oomph to get past the inevitable Peugeot. Which meant I arrived at the school late. Thanks, Mr Molehusband. I hope you have a big-end failure very soon. And because you chose a Peugeot, you probably will.

    And speaking of unreliability . . . I honestly cannot work out how Fiat is still in business. British Leyland failed because it made rubbish cars, essentially for the home market. And yet – somehow – Fiat has been doing exactly the same thing for years but is still with us.

    Yes, it survived in Italy because its market was protected from imports. But it isn’t now. And anyway, because it costs a billion to develop a new car, Fiat has to sell its products all over the world. Which means someone in Britain has to think: “Yes. There are many great cars out there, all of which suit my needs perfectly. But I’m not interested in speed, style, reliability, fuel economy, performance or value. So I shall buy a Punto.” Every single time you read a customer satisfaction survey, all the Fiats sit down at the bottom. Above Peugeot for sure, but often below Citroën and even Renault. And for Fiat to survive it has to reckon these disgruntled customers will say: “My Punto is terrible. I hate it. It is always going wrong. So I shall buy another.” The thing is, however, that somehow Fiat does survive, and I’m extremely glad because I like what it makes very much.

    You get in a Fiat and even though the headlining has fallen off, and is draped round your head like a nun’s hat, and the engine sounds as if it’s being fuelled with gravel and there’s a smell of melting glue, you always think: “This is fun.”

    It’s much the same story with the new Bravo. It’s available with a wide range of engines but inevitably, I asked for the most powerful. It’s a turbocharged 1.4 that chucks out 150bhp. That’s a lot from a small amount of space. But it doesn’t feel like half enough when you’re on the Fosse and you can’t see what’s coming the other way because your view is blocked by the ridiculous ears of the man in front.

    Maybe because it’s quite a porker, it really isn’t a fast car. So in desperation, you press a little button on the dash that says “sport”.

    Fiat says this changes the shape of the engine’s torque curve. Instead of getting a dribble, low down in the rev range, you get a torrent coming on stream at 3000rpm. Hmmm. Having experimented with this button on a number of occasions, I’ve decided that what it actually does is illuminate a little light on the dash. And that’s it.

    I don’t care, though, because it is a fun car to drive. There’s a looseness to the controls that you may interpret as poor build quality or a slackness in the system, and I’d be the first to agree that the steering’s not that great and the handling isn’t especially noteworthy. However, somehow, it puts a smile on your face. Maybe it’s because it feels so very, very different to a taut and muscular Volkswagen.

    It looks different, too. I was going to wax lyrical about how the Italians, even when they’re asked to come up with a practical five-door hatchback, somehow manage to give it a bit of flair, a bit of panache. But then I noticed it was designed by a man called Frank Stephenson. Who sounds about as Italian as a Fray Bentos steak and kidney pie. Whatever. It’s a lovely looking little thing with a stylish nose and tapering windows. I think you would feel fairly pleased to have one sitting on your drive. Inside, it’s pretty much the same as all the other cars in the world, except for one thing. I could never quite get comfortable. Italian cars always used to be designed for creatures that are only found under rocks in the sea, and while they’ve got better, they still refuse to accept that a human being’s legs are usually longer than his arms.

    Other things. Well, you can have it with a voice-activated sat nav system, which won’t work, and will then break. And my test car came with a USB connection port for an MP3 player. Lovely, except it appeared to have been put in place by an ape.

    There’s no point going on. There are many issues in a Bravo that you just won’t find in a Volkswagen. So we’re back to square one. To buy this car you must decide that what you really want is something that’s not quite as good as a Golf.

    Except for a couple of things. The way it feels and the way it looks. If these are important to you, try one. You might like it. I did.

    I also liked the huge ashtray. It was easily big enough to hold the ashes of a freshly burnt copy of our ridiculous new Highway Code.

    Vital statistics

    Model Fiat Bravo 1.4 TJet 150 Sport
    Engine 1368cc, four cylinders
    Power 150bhp @ 5500rpm
    Torque 170 lb ft @ 3000rpm
    Transmission Six-speed manual
    Fuel 39.8mpg (combined cycle)
    CO2 167g/km
    Acceleration 0-62mph: 8.5sec
    Top speed 131mph
    Price £14,795

    Rating - Verdict Fun with foibles


  2. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera New Member OT Supporter

    Jan 27, 2005
    Likes Received:
    AAAAAHAhahahaha! :rofl:

    God I love that man, prejudices and all. (hell, the prejudices are what make him so bloody funny.)

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