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Fiat Qubo review 2020

Fiat’s small van-derived MPV is an affordable family car, but lags behind rivals on plenty of fronts.

£5,200
Average Price
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3
Out of 5

Pros

  • Spacious interior
  • Handy sliding rear doors
  • Great visibility

Cons

  • Drab interior
  • Outdated
  • Poor to drive
  • MPG

    38 - 57

  • CO2

    120 - 169 g/km

Model review

Fiat has a good history of producing van-derived MPVs – firstly with the Doblo, but also with this smaller Qubo.

As is common in this sector, it’s a model that shares plenty in common with other similar MPVs – namely the near-identical Citroen Nemo Multispace and Peugeot Bipper Tepee. Despite their small dimensions – they’re no bigger in size then the average family hatchback, the models are surprisingly spacious and versatile. They appeal to buyers that value spaciousness over styling. That said, the Fiat is arguably the funkiest looking of the three models – especially in bold colours like the green car pictured.

Current model

While Citroen and Peugeot both axed models of this size from their line-ups (including the van options), the Fiat Fiorino van and the Qubo MPV continue to remain in production.

The biggest update came in 2016 when Fiat introduced an updated model. The biggest changes came in the way of its styling, which saw a fresher face being introduced, along with a ‘smiling’ front grille and a chunkier front bumper. The tailgate itself is revised to aid practicality, while Fiat introduced a couple of new colours – Magnetic Bronze and Azure Blue being standout mentions.

Fiat also overhauled the interior – including the option to have a five-inch Uconnect touchscreen with satellite navigation and Bluetooth, along with new seating upholstery and a new steering wheel.

It was a rather mild update, but a well-needed one that helped to bring the model further up to modern standards.

Value for money

Throughout the Qubo’s lifetime it’s always represented great value for money. When introduced in 2008, it had a sub-£10,000 starting price, and even today prices start from as little as £13,737. To put that in perspective, most superminis are at least £2,000 more expensive. However, it is lacking the create comforts of modern rivals, as standard equipment is sparse to say the least. The mid-spec Lounge model therefore makes more sense as it comes with a touchscreen and air-conditioning, to name but a few necessities.

But for value for money, you should really look to the used market, with models available from as little as £2,000, which will admittedly buy you a high-mileage example. Expect to pay around £3,000 for a high-spec 2009 example with the 1.3-litre diesel engine. It’s not a particularly popular choice, so there are a limited number of used models available. However, we would recommend looking at the nearly-new market, where you can find a six-month-old version with just 1,000 miles on the clock for £11,000. That’s at least £4,000 off the list price.

Looks and image

As with the majority of these van-based MPVs, none of them feel like something you’d aspire to own. They’re more of a necessity above anything else, and that’s true with the Qubo. Though we’d argue that this Fiat is slightly more appealing than its rivals – not least due the chunky front bumper and the bold choice of colours on offer. Fiat also offers a more rugged ‘Trekking’ version, which is undoubtedly the most stylish of the lot.

The Qubo isn’t a model that you should buy if you enjoy driving – it’s a model that’s designed to get you from A-to-B and little else. The engine choice is rather uninspiring, while body roll can be a bit of an issue thanks to its boxy styling and soft suspension. That said, it’s an easy model to drive and quite good around town where its light steering makes it easy to manoeuvre. Visibility is also superb thanks to large windows throughout, and few blind spots.

Space and practicality

For a car that has a similar footprint to the average supermini, the Qubo is a remarkably spacious choice. The 330-litre boot might not sound all that impressive, but the boxy shape and upright seats makes it an impressively useful space. That number only includes up to the parcel shelf, too, so with that removed it’s even more versatile.

However, remove the rear seats (which isn’t too difficult of a job) and it unleashes a huge 2,500 litres of room. So, if you have a car boot sale in the pipeline or are moving large objects, the Qubo could be an especially useful tool. Sliding rear doors are also a big asset, too – especially if you have young children as it can save inevitable door dings.

However, it should be noted that the Qubo is seriously lacking in safety kit. No safety aids that are expected from all new cars are found on the model, nor can they be found on the options list, either. This department really shows the Qubo’s age.

  

Engines

The Qubo is just available with two engines, and neither proves inspiring with modest power outputs.

The only petrol option is a 1.4-litre unit, which manages to be both inefficient and lacking in performance. It comes mated to a five-speed manual transmission, and produces a modest 76bhp – meaning 0-60mph takes a lengthy 14.5 seconds.

A diesel option therefore seems to make the most sense, and it’s a 1.3-litre ‘Multijet’ unit that is the only option, and has been since the Qubo originally launched. It’s worth avoiding the 74bhp and later 79bhp option, and instead choose the top 94bhp unit. It’s still mated to a five-speed manual gearbox, and while not quick, isn’t quite so slow as the other variants – 0-60mph takes a more reasonable 11.7 seconds.

 

Running costs

If you’re looking for the most affordable Qubo to run, you should look at the diesel models. While lacking the efficiency of more modern rivals, the 94bhp will return a decent 47.9mpg, with CO2 emissions of 151g/km.

The 1.4-litre petrol disappoints here, though. Despite its measly performance, Fiat still only says that it will return 34mpg, with CO2 emissions of 190g/km.

However, the model should prove to be cheap to insure thanks to its small engines.

Things to look out for

Fiat doesn’t have the best reliability rating, and while the Qubo’s underpinnings and engines are utilised in a variety of models, it’s worth having a model mechanically inspected before purchasing and ensure that the service is up to date. As it’s quite a niche model, there isn’t a huge deal known about its reliability, though there are known to be issues with the timing chain with the 1.3-litre diesel engine.

  

Rivals

The number of smaller van-based MPVs available has declined in recent years, and one of the few other models available new is the Ford Tourneo Courier, which is much better buy.

If you’re looking at older models, consider the Qubo’s sibling models – the Citroen Nemo Multispace and Peugeot Bipper Tepee. If you would rather consider a more conventional MPV, have a look at a used Ford B-Max, Fiat 500L or Citroen C3 Picasso.

  

Depreciation

With the Qubo having such a low starting price in the first place, there isn’t a huge amount of value that this model can lose. However, it’s worth trying to find a nearly-new model if you’re looking for a good saving, with up to £4,000 available off models less than a year old.

Which Qubo to Pick

Cheapest to Buy When New

1.4 8V Pop 5dr

Most MPG

1.3 Multijet Lounge 5dr

Fastest Model (0-60)

1.3 Multijet 95 Trekking 5dr

Trims Explained

Three trim levels are available on the Qubo – Pop, Lounge and Trekking. Equipment highlights and pricing are as follows.

'Pop'

Standard equipment on these models is quite sparse, with kit limited to a radio/CD player, electrically adjustable door mirrors, electric front windows and body coloured bumpers.

Priced from £13,737

'Lounge'

The Lounge feels like a much better choice thanks to the addition of a five-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth, along with fog lights, air conditioning and a leather steering wheel.

Priced from £15,172

'Trekking'

This rugged-looking model comes with 15-unch alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, an upgraded traction control system, along with a Trekking styling kit, tinted windows and cruise control.

Priced from £17,947

Summary

  1. Very spacious interior
  2. Great visibility
  3. Trekking models add rugged styling
  4. Priced new from £17,947
  5. Sparse entry-level models
  6. Not very fun to drive
  7. Outdated interior
  8. Safety kit is years off the pace
  9. Sliding rear doors are very useful
  10. A great alternative to a small MPV, just be aware that it lags behind modern rivals

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