Fiat Qubo

It struggles on pace, but MPV gives decent fuel returns

Take one look at the boxy Qubo, and you could be forgiven for thinking it shouldn’t be in this test, especially when parked next to the aerodynamic Insight. But don’t judge the Fiat by its cover, as beneath its bluff exterior is an efficient 1.3-litre Multijet diesel.

The Qubo is also available as the Peugeot Bipper Tepee and Citroen Nemo, but they use slightly larger 1.4-litre oil-burners. Even so, they share the Italian model’s combined fuel economy of 62.8mpg, which is easily enough to merit inclusion here.

In Dynamic trim the Fiat has body-coloured bumpers, and our test car’s bright orange paint gives it a youthful look that none of its stablemates can match. The styling won’t be to everyone’s taste, but it is certainly distinctive.

Swing open the driver’s door, and you’ll find a high driving position. Combined with the huge windscreen, it provides an excellent view ahead. This was perfect for our economy run, as the ability to plan ahead is crucial to achieving good fuel economy. The seats are also comfortable, although you do sit very upright.

The heavily sculpted steering wheel frustrated a couple of our testers, as it effectively dictates where you hold the rim, but standard kit is decent enough. Electric windows, air-con and the firm’s Blue&Me MP3 and Bluetooth phone connection all feature in Dynamic trim. However, luxury items such as sat-nav, leather seats and xenon lights aren’t even available as options.

It’s round the back where the boxy Qubo plays its trump card, because it can swallow an impressive 2,500 litres of luggage with the seats removed. Leave them in place, and it still offers 330 litres, while the large opening means carrying big items shouldn’t be a problem.

On the move, the boxy styling and relatively lazy 190Nm of torque mean you have to work the engine to make progress, which harms economy.

The Fiat was also the slowest car of our group and struggles at higher speeds. At a constant cruise, though, the soft suspension soaks up bumps, and the Qubo was one of the most comfortable machines on the long drive north. The penalty is plenty of body roll in tight turns.

The aerodynamics have a part to play in proceedings, as the Fiat recorded the worst economy of our trip. A combined figure of 58.5mpg is 4.3mpg off its claimed figure.

However, a 45-litre tank means it will manage 579 miles between fills. It returned the worst economy of our test, but nearly 60mpg is still very good for a versatile family MPV.

Details

Chart position: 5

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