The Ultra-Competitive New Fiat Bravo Sport

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Now with some ever-so-subtle refinements

Let’s not beat about the bush – if you’re expecting the Fiat Bravo’s ‘facelift’ to prescribe to the Joan Rivers / Mickey Rourke school of plastic surgery you’re likely to be disappointed. You see, the cosmetic mods are very subtle, which is the way it should be as few would argue with the fact that the Bravo still takes the crown in any vehicular beauty contest, particularly when pitted against its natural rivals in the family hatchback category.

What is important to remember is that the Bravo started the trend of less is more (turbocharged small engines that pack a mighty punch) and all the others have followed suit. Or, to put it another way, the 2010 Bravo is still very much at the top of its segment.

So what’s new on the 2010 Bravo?

To continue with the nip tuck analogy, Fiat has given its five-door compact the equivalent of a nose and eye job. There’s a new grille up front which features a burnished metallic finish. The headlights are now smoked and the direction indicators are clear (as opposed to amber). Speaking of colour, two new hues complement the palette: Tempesta Grey (an unusually shiny mid-tone silver) and Ballad Pearl (a creamy bronze).

Under the skin too, the new Bravo has benefitted from Fiat’s Innovation Strategy which calls for ongoing development during a product’s lifecycle.

The ride of the revised Bravo has been tweaked towards comfort without sacrificing responsiveness. Another noteworthy change has taken place in the NVH (Noise, Vibration & Harshness) department – thanks to improved insulation, the 2010 Bravo Sport is appreciably quieter when cruising and that extends to wind noise as well which is now commendably suppressed even at high speed.

Moving indoors, Fiat has applied the maxim – if it aint broke don’t fix it. The tactile, soft-touch carbon fibre-look inserts are still there as are the deep-dished main instruments and the sports seats. However, the door panels have been reworked to incorporate reflectors and the rear middle passenger now gets a headrest as well.

Fiat SA has also taken the opportunity to rationalise the range by exclusively offering the 110kW 1.4 T-Jet version which is now simply referred to as the Bravo Sport. But, what makes the new Bravo an even more attractive prospect is that it also gets a refreshed price positioning – at R239 900 (incl. VAT) no other family-sized hatchback offers quite the same perfect mix of style, performance, safety and practicality.

Does it still have that corker of a turbocharged engine?

Oh yes – that bit stays the same. Through cubic capacity downsizing allied to the adoption of the smallest possible turbocharger, Fiat’s responsive 110kW 1.4 litre T-Jet engine is still shoe-horned into the Bravo Sport and it’s mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. It combines performance equal to or better than a conventionally aspirated 1.8/2.0 litre engine with a reduction of between 10% and 20% in fuel consumption and emissions.

The T-Jet engine features optimised intake port and manifold design; a revised injection system and bespoke spark plug design to improve knock resistance and pre-ignition; a reduction in both inlet and exhaust valve lift time to optimise air mass flow; a reduction in compression ratio from 11:1 to 9.8:1; piston, con-rod and crankshaft redesign; a new, reduced volume exhaust manifold for maximum exploitation of the exhaust pulse energy, and improved engine cooling efficiency through a revised coolant path and a redesigned water pump impeller.

Excellent combustion characteristics have allowed for the adoption of a notably small turbocharger. With a turbine diameter of only 33 mm, this highly compact and responsive turbine is located directly above the exhaust manifold, with the attendant catalytic converter close-coupled to the turbine exit.

Via a ‘drive-by-wire’ throttle system, the 1.4 litre T-Jet engine provides outstanding low-end torque, almost entirely devoid of the lag in power delivery traditionally associated with turbocharger installations.

A special treat in the Bravo Sport is the overboost button (marked ‘Sport’) located on the centre console which permits an impressive delivery of 230 Nm of torque at 3000 rpm (as opposed to 206 Nm at 2000 rpm), endowing the Bravo with a 0-100 km/h acceleration time of 8.2 seconds and a top speed of 212 km/h. Notwithstanding such lively performance, this superbly responsive powerplant will still return an average of 7,1 litres per 100 km – you’re looking at 9,3 l in the urban cycle and 5,8 l in the extra-urban cycle.

At a glance, here’s a rundown of the most important standard kit on the new Bravo Sport:

  • Rear spoiler
  • Side skirts
  • Cornering foglamps – operating at slow speeds when the vehicle’s headlights are switched on, the system automatically activates the foglight corresponding to the direction of travel when sufficient steering lock has been applied, greatly improving visibility at junctions and during parking manoeuvres.
  • 17″ alloys
  • Radio/CD/MP3
  • Air conditioning
  • Power steering
  • Front & rear electric windows
  • Electric mirrors with demister
  • Remote central locking
  • Leather steering wheel / gear knob
  • Steering wheel with audio controls
  • Sport seats with lumbar support for the driver
  • Front armrest
  • Height-adjustable driver’s seat
  • Isofix child seat attachments
  • Racing pedals
  • Sport (overboost) button – liberates all 230 Nm of torque
  • Full Active Safety* System including ABS with EBD, ESP (stability control) with ASR (traction control) and Hill Holder
  • Full Passive Safety* System including 6 airbags and Fiat’s FPS (Fire Prevention System)

*5-star EuroNCAP rating

A range of cost options are available ranging from 18″ alloys to full leather trim – see the price list for exact options and prices.

Pricing, warranty and servicing

  • Fiat Bravo Sport – R239 900 (incl. VAT)

Enhancing the ownership prospect, the new Fiat Bravo Sport, as with other premium products in the Fiat stable, has 30 000 km service intervals (this is by far the benchmark in the segment) and enjoys full after-sales support in South Africa thanks to a comprehensive parts inventory and the back-up of trained technicians at Fiat dealerships countrywide.

Fiat Auto South Africa offers a three-year 100 000 km Warranty (three years on paintwork and five years on rust anti-perforation) as well as a five-year / 90 000 km service plan as standard.

The new model is covered by the AA Fleetcare roadside assistance for 12 months. The service is active 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and is available by calling the dedicated toll-free number 0800 223 727.