Spacious Money Saver (Fiat Croma 2005-2007)

ENGINES – Petrol motors exist, but from a performance and economy viewpoint the diesel engines will be the smarter choice. Any will do the job, but if given a choice the flagship 200bhp variant is the most impressive of the diesel trio – 120bhp, 150bhp and the 200bhp units.

EXTERIOR – The Croma is a little different from your average family car. There are parallels with Vauxhall’s Signum – itself neither hatch or estate. The high roofline and estate-like rear end hint at an active family bias. At the front the Croma is unmistakably a Fiat, thanks to its scaled up Punto-like nose.

INTERIOR – It’s easy to draw positive comparisons with similar sized offerings from Ford and Vauxhall. Being a big car, the Croma’s cabin is spacious, while the boot is a good size with the seats folded.

DRIVING – The Croma was aimed at people who put space and versatility first. In its defence, the car can be had with a choice of some good engines. Diesels are a Fiat speciality, and the Croma driving experience benefits greatly from an oil-burner under the bonnet. Essentially the big Fiat delivers a comfortable and refined performance, which what you want from a family-orientates car.

OWNERSHIP – There’s no doubt that the Croma offers a lot for the money, and as such you get the chance to put a well specified and refined family size car outside your house for a small sum. As for living with it, the experience is no different to anything else in its sector. Modest servicing and running costs – assuming you pick a diesel – mean the big Fiat won’t break the bank.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR – Make sure everything works during the test drive, and be alert to any unusual noises when on the road. First time around the car may have failed to excite the majority of buyers, but private hire drivers warmed to the Croma so ensure there’s a comprehensive service history and the car doesn’t feel ‘tired’ or prematurely worn for its age or miles covered.

MODEL HISTORY

2005: Fiat launches leftfield alternative to Ford’s Mondeo in the shape of the Croma. More like Vauxhall’s Signum ‘fastback’ hatch, the Croma boasts an upmarket cabin, decent diesel (and petrol) engines plus a comfortable ride and generous equipment levels.

REASONS TO BUY – good value large family car, well equipped, spacious, practical.

REASONS TO BEWARE – image, question marks over reliability

PICK OF THE RANGE – Croma 1.9 16v Multijet Eleganza.

WHAT TO PAY

2005 55 2,640

2006 06 2,945

2006 56 3,075

2007 07 3,440

Figures relate to showroom prices for cars in A1 condition.

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