The Fiat Bravo rides on a reworked – and thankfully more refined – version of the unloved Stilo’s platform, but the Grande Punto-ish styling and improved quality cabin show a marked improvement over the Bravo’s predecessor.

The Bravo was the work of the Fiat Styling Centre and is unusual in its class for being handsome – svelte, even. The distinctive design works well from most angles, slightly nose-heavy front aside, and the cabin is well finished, spacious and comfortable.

In fact, its looks have done a lot of good for the Fiat brand as a whole, and for ensuring the Bravo’s continued popularity among buyers. There have been plenty of beautiful Fiats in the past, of course, including the barely remembered Dino Spider and 850 coupé of the 1960s, and the recently departed Barchetta and Coupé, but with this Bravo Fiat has firmly banished memories of cars such as the unloved and frankly boring Tipo, Tempra, Seicento, Marea, Stilo, Ulysse, Doblo and Croma.

The car’s suspension is a MacPherson strut front/twist beam rear axle set-up. It’s less sophisticated than the fully independent multi-link arrangements of the Ford Focus and VW Golf, but it has been extensively refined, with hydraulic rear axle anchorage bushes, for instance, and a variety of modifications intended to improve the front axle’s strength and precision.

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The Fiat Bravo also has a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating for adult protection, plus a three-star child protection rating.

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