The hip new Fiat Qubo

22 February, 2013 | by Angus Boswell

Fiat has kicked off its new model offensive for the year with a funky opening salvo – a high-topped mini-MPV called the Qubo. Hipsters rejoice, because here is a fun take on affordable urban mobility for cash-strapped new families. For once all the marketing huff is on the mark.

It’s a passenger take on the more commercially focused Fiorino van, both based on the Grande Punto platform, with a tight turning circle, high-set driving position, roof rails, alloy wheels and a choice of standout metallic colours (the only option to be had) including Disco Green, Flamenco Red, Cool Jazz Blue, Fox-Trot Azure and Rockabilly Black.

So you get where Fiat is going with this. But silliness aside, it’s a brilliant way of getting about with kids, dogs and assorted sports paraphanalia. Just so long as you’re in no particular hurry. Because it comes with a choice of lacklustre 54kW 1.4-litre petrol or snappier 55kW 1.3-litre diesel. Choose the latter for its excellent 41.l/100km fuel index, turbo boost and 190Nm torque rating, particularly if your primary driving is at altitude.

The looks could probably be described as fungly, with a prognathous front end that’s big enough to sit on and no doubt keeps the Belgians who enforce NCAP happy; but that’s not quite the point. The bold wheel arch blisters and rakish rear window line indicate this car doesn’t take itself too seriously. And it’s mighty practical too: sliding side doors give access to a bench seat that splits, folds and can be removed in sections, the huge tailgate swings up to reveal 330 litres of boot space to the window line, with more if you stack vertically. Haul all the pews out and you have a 2500-litre cavern.

For the price (just on R178k for the petrol, R200k for the diesel) the interior is well appointed, if a little plasticky, though even that is a wipe-down plus when kids feature. Standard stuff like aircon, cruise control and Blue&Me Bluetooth operated by satellite steering controls, plus all those stash places, makes for a genial travel-mobile. Also to like? Fiat’s confident new 3yr/100 000km warranty and maintenance plan.

     

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