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Fiat Multipla 1.9 JTD Eleganza – on sale now



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The original Fiat Multipla was so distinctive it took real courage to buy one. Now that Fiat has done away with the frog-like front end it stands a chance of gaining the popularity it deserves, at least until fellow six-seaters like the Honda FR-V and Mazda5 arrive next year.

The revisions are largely cosmetic. New jewel-type headlights, a chrome grille and new bumper, while the rear has received new light clusters and a revised bumper. Overall the appearance is now more anonymous and van-like than amphibian.

One of the Multipla’s strengths has always been in its tremendous expanse of glass, which gives the cabin a voluminous, airy feel, aided on our test vehicle by twin electric sunroofs available as a factory option. As a result, visibility is excellent, making the car a doddle to park and reverse despite its size.

On the road, ride and handling are surprisingly refined compared to older rivals such as the Zafira, with bends and bumps tackled in comfort even when fully loaded.

Only the 1.9-litre turbodiesel spoils the package – compared with Ford and PSA offerings it is unrefined and slightly underpowered. Although it wakes up at around 3,000rpm the power tails off again at 4,000rpm, so routes with inclines requiring bursts of acceleration might be best avoided during test drives.

Versatility remains one of the Multipla’s greatest assets – all six seats are independent, allowing a number of configurations and providing up to 1,900 litres of load space.

Eleganza is the highest specification offered on the Multipla, adding items such as electric rear windows, 15in alloy wheels and rear parking sensors to an already comprehensive equipment list. Thanks to its cosmetic surgery, Multipla sales should rise well above the 2,562 units Fiat sold in the UK last year.

Strengths: Handling, seating
Weaknesses: Turbodiesel takes a while to wake up
Opportunity: Young families will love it
Threat : Newer six-seaters heading in
USP: Won’t frighten customers
Price: £16,495
Engine: 1910cc, 4-cyl, common rail turbodiesel
Transmission: 5spd manual, fwd
Performance: 0-62mph 12.2 seconds, top speed 109mph
Efficiency: 44.1mpg combined, 170g/km CO2
CAP RV (3yr/30k): £6,350 (39%)
Rivals: Honda F-RV, Nissan Almera Tino, Vauxhall Zafira, Ford Focus C-Max

First drive: Fiat Panda

Fiat looks to its new model to boost its share of the small car market.

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