Fiat Sedici Hatchback review (2006-2011)
Fiat has done a great job with the Sedici. It's good to drive, well built, has a stylish cabin and genuine off-road ability.
Driving: For now, the Sedici is only available with a 1.6-litre petrol engine, which has to be revved to get the best out of it. And that's no fun, because it feels thrashy and coarse above 2,500rpm, and isn't all that responsive. At motorway speeds, a constant drone intrudes into the cabin, which becomes grating after time. Things improve when it comes to handling. Considering its high stance, the Sedici performs well, with good composure on the road. The ride is firm but not uncomfortable, and there is good grip and minimal body roll when cornering. The Sedici also has a switchable four-wheel-drive system, with three settings: 2WD, Lock (which splits engine torque equally between front and rear axles) and Auto (which adjusts torque depending on grip and traction levels). Off road, the Sedici isn't quite as capable as a 'proper' 4x4, but still has good ground clearance and copes easily with muddy inclines and dusty gravel tracks.
Marketplace: The Sedici is Fiat's take on the small off-roader. Developed in association with Suzuki, the two makers share all major parts, with the only differences being in badging and minor trim details. The Suzuki comes in both two- and four-wheel-drive guise, but Fiat only offers the Sedici with 4WD, mated to a Suzuki 1.6-litre petrol engine or, later this year, a Fiat-sourced 1.9-litre turbodiesel. A 'crossover' vehicle rather than a true off-roader, the Fiat looks more hatch than SUV, with only the black body mouldings, roof bars and silver front and rear chassis guards giving clues to its off-road ability. The danger is that it's too understated, risking comparison with the off-road-look Polo Dune supermini. Fiat would rather see it compared to the Daihatsu Terios, particularly as prices are competitive alongside this model, in both Dynamic and Eleganza trims.
Owning: The Fiat's smooth, well-proportioned lines hide the fact that it's tall - but this height means there's plenty of head space for rear passengers, although legroom isn't quite so generous. The boot isn't massive but the seats fold easily. Up front, the driving position is good and the seats supportive. The thick A-pillars do, however, severely restrict visibility. A well laid out cabin benefits from Suzuki quality, with superb fit and finish plus a satisfying absence of squeaks and rattles. It's stylish and uncluttered too. The switchable 4WD means economy is as good as a normal hatch, as is CO2 output, while retained values show a marked improvement for Fiat. Only shortish 9,000-mile service intervals really let it down, though the company's poor dealer record could also be a concern.