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A Very Practical Duck on Wheels: The Fiat Multipla

A multiplication of homeliness

Fiat Multipla in red

Fiat said let’s put the buyers in a dilemma of being amused or impressed by the Fiat Multipla, a car that needs no introduction because of its unusual design. Produced by the Italian automaker Fiat from 1998 to 2010, the Fiat Multipla left the automotive world speechless.

Fiat Multipla in red rear

Based on Fiat’s rather famous model, the Bravo/Brava, this six-seater MPV also impressed the automotive community rather than being just amusing when it debuted its sales in November 1998. Stirring up a storm of controversy and debate because of its unusual and striking appearance, the Multipla challenged traditional MPV aesthetics. Please wait until we move ahead in review, as you will be impressed by its offerings.

Fiat Multipla's Impression

Fiat Multipla front side angle

The first impression of the Fiat Multipla is a state of confusion. Its silly-looking appearance makes one question its existence. Did Fiat’s designers take a joke to the next step? Or was it someone’s cheeky attempt to replace the final design overnight? Who knows, but when it comes to winning the Ugliest Car award, the Fiat Multipla aces it. Defying the regular norms of automotive design with its frog-like odd or duck-like divisive looks, it turns heads and all the attention to it. Check out some more ugly-looking cars.

Fiat Multipla's excellence

Fiat Multipla 2nd generation side

After all this trolling, we shall not leave the vital trait of the Fiat Multipla untold. The most practical MPV in the early 2000s was the Multipla. How do we know it? It won the Top Gear Car of the Year award in 2000 and the More Beautiful Car in the World award. It was also voted out as Top Gear Magazine's Family Car of the Year for four years from 2001 to 2004, showing its worth in the practicality sector. It was also awarded the title of Family Car of the Moment In July 2000, in the series finale of Clarkson's Car Years. In the later part of this review, we will extensively cover Fiat Multipla’s practicality.

Generational analysis of the Fiat Multipla

As we take a trip back to the different generations of the Fiat Multipla, the Multipla had two generations in a short span of almost 12 years.

1st Gen (1998-2004)

Fiat Multipla front

This first generation of the Fiat Multipla was the real deal. With its strange looks, this car caught the eye of many. It had two engine configurations. A 1.6-liter inline-4 16-valve gasoline engine would produce 102 hp and 145 Nm of torque, allowing the Multipla to go 0-60 mph in 12 seconds. The other was the 1.9-liter inline-4 JTD diesel engine with 105 hp and 200 Nm of torque, propelling the Multipla from 0-60 mph in fractions more than 11 seconds. A 5-speed manual transmission with front-wheel drive is standard.

2nd Gen Facelift (2004-2010)

Fiat Multipla second generation

In this generation, Fiat got rid of the ugly design of the previous generation and gave this generation a more sensible and streamlined look, which would increase sales too. The petrol engine being the same, it had a slightly more powerful diesel engine option as we saw an increase in the hp from 105 to 120 and in the torque from 200 to 206 Nm. Overall, the second generation was pretty much the same as the latter from the inside, but the second generation's major highlight was the facelift.

What's Under the Hood?

Fiat Multipla engine

As told earlier, the newly launched Fiat Multipla had a range of petrol and diesel engines. Being a brilliant utility vehicle, the Multipla doesn’t compromise performance. The engine options with their relative power were:







100 16V



102 hp

144 Nm


100 16V



102 hp

145 Nm


105 JTD



104 hp

200 Nm


110 JTD



110 hp

200 Nm


115 JTD



113 hp

203 Nm


1.9 Multijet



120 hp

206 Nm


1.6 (Bi-Power) CNG



91 hp

130 Nm

Initially, the 1.6-liter inline-4 16-valve gasoline engine would produce 102 hp and 145 Nm of torque, allowing the Multipla to go 0-60 mph in 12 seconds. The other was the 1.9-liter inline-4 JTD diesel engine with 105 hp and 200 Nm of torque, propelling the Multipla from 0-60 mph in fractions more than 11 seconds.

Fiat Multipla transmission

A 5-speed manual transmission with front-wheel drive is standard. The next generation also had the same configurations but a slightly more powerful diesel to suit the rapid diving needs of the buyers.

Real-world MPG

Due to its somewhat aerodynamic design and dynamic engines, the Fiat Multipla has an excellent fuel efficiency of 21 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway with a combined economy of 27 mpg. A budget-friendly car indeed.

Drive of the Fiat Multipla

Fiat Multipla driving

The drive of the Fiat Multipla is very smooth, as the suspension is very soft. The car glides swiftly with minimum body roll. The drive is sound on the highway and in the city well; apart from its attention-seeking look, it is fair as its practicality plays its role.

Trims of the Fiat Multipla

The first generation had the following trims:

· Multipla SX

· Multipla ELX

In the second generation, these trims were replaced by:

· Dynamic

· Dynamic Family

· Dynamic Plus

The SX was the base version, while the ELX had air conditioning, twin electric sunroofs, alloy wheels, electric rear windows, special wipe clean, and brightly colored seats. The base model in the second generation, the Dynamic, was almost well-equipped, including anti-lock brakes with electronic brake distribution, front airbags, electric windows, and others, but still lacked air-conditioning, which was present in the higher-end trims.


Fiat Multipla interior

Unlike its exterior, the interior of the Fiat Multipla is well-constructed and well-organized. Its spacious design strongly focuses on functionality, practicality, and comfort. Being smaller than the Brava, on which it is based, the Multipla has a more spacious interior with ample headroom and legroom.

Fiat Multipla seating

One of the most distinctive things about the Multipla's interior is its innovative seating arrangement. It has a separate front bench seat and rear bench arrangement, allowing it to carry up to six passengers easily.

Fiat Multipla dash

In contrast with the dash-mounted gear lever, the dashboard layout is efficient and functional as the controls are very user-friendly and straightforward with an easy-to-use infotainment system.

Fiat Multipla storage

The quality of the interior materials is fair. Being an MVP, the Fiat Multipla doesn’t disappoint as it provides an ample cargo space of up to 430 liters, making daily utility tasks efficiently carried out.


Fiat Multipla rear

The Fiat Multipla’s exterior is its standout feature, including.

· Asymmetrically placed headlights that raise the eyebrows

· Vertically stacked front grille

· Box design with rounded edges

· Steep windshield

Fiat Multipla front

The unconventional design makes it difficult for drivers who thrive on having a good-looking car. Fiat went rogue with the automotive norms and decided to drop this ugliest-looking car one day. Some had to take that spot.

Fiat Multipla 2nd generation side

Still, after only four years, Fiat decided to adhere to the convention and give some sense to the Multipla, introducing the new generation with a facelift. However, its appearance is odd, but it helps aerodynamically.

Highs and Lows

✔ Spacious Interior

✔ Practicality

✔ Fuel Efficiency

✔ Safety Features

✖ Ugly and Unconventional Design

✖ Outdated Technology

✖ Limited Performance

Bad news for the Fiat Multipla

The Fiat Multipla received a couple of verdicts, such as

After the facelift, The Daily Telegraph reported designers were

"Desperately sad that the new Multipla no longer resembles a psychotic cartoon duck. While passengers loved the adaptability of the clever interior, they were less keen on the sarcastic sneers and derisive laughter of their neighbors, friends, and schoolmates; children can be cruel."

It was also placed #2 on the list of the 100 Ugliest Cars in August 2008 by the Telegraph.

They said:

"Derided for the blandness of its output during the 1980s and early 1990s, Fiat dared to start thinking outside the box. In this case, however, it added wheels to the box."

It also received the award of the Ugliest Car of All Time by CarThrottle in January 2014.

Expert's Verdict

According to the experts of FleetNews:

“Remarkably assured, at the sort of speeds enforced by an engine range now in need of revision. The comfortable and classy interior remains unique in any segment. With or without the striking couture, it's hard to understand why the Multipla hasn't yet sold up a storm.”


Fiat Multipla 3

In conclusion, the Fiat Multipla is a unique and memorable automotive creation. It was an anomaly that made a rather amusing impact on the industry, but sadly, its tenure was short. Its distinctive design, defying automotive aesthetics, is state of the art. With its spacious interior, comfortable ride, compact size, and practical nature, it is undoubtedly one to be bought, but then the question arises: does it fit on the road?

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