Americans tend to shy away from ugly cars, but that isn’t the only reason why reason Fiat shied away from bringing the Multipla to the U.S. Built from 1998 to 2010, the Multipla was extremely practical, with a large interior that crammed room for six people into a car the size of a Mini Cooper Countryman. As a people-mover, it was rewarding to drive, but its looks were a deal breaker for many people.
However, the worst things about the Fiat Multipla have nothing to do with its looks. Granted, the fact that it looked like a sea creature didn’t help, but what really hurt the Multipla was its low quality, poor safety, and reliability issues.
1. The Fiat Multipla has terrible safety ratings
According to the Euro NCAP, a safety rating agency like the NHTSA, the Fiat Multipla scores three out of five stars for safety. That doesn’t sound bad, but it’s not great. It scored well for side impact safety, but its frontal impact scores really wrecked its rating.
Euro NCAP called the structural performance of the Multipla “disappointing,” adding that the hard areas under the front facia could damage front seat occupants’ kees and upper thighs. In tests, the driver’s head struck the steering wheel hard enough to cause an injury, and the passenger compartment started to deform.
2. The Multipla has low-quality materials
That same passenger compartment also has low-quality materials. Motors, an online car-buying resource in the United Kingdom, rated the Fiat Multipla only 1.5 stars out of five. In a typically British understatement, the company said the MPV was “a bit different” while calling attention to the weird control layout, low-quality, and odd fabric textures.
The site Motors noted that the biggest thing the Multipla’s interior has going for it is its space and versatility. The company said it’s “as large as a van inside,” making it a cheap people carrier or cargo hauler.
3. The Multipla was unreliable
Motors U.K. also reports that the Fiat Multipla is unreliable. It has a tendency to require frequent repairs, which is something that will continually get worse as the car ages. While mechanically sound, it seems like the Multipla’s low-quality materials and craft extend to trim and hardware as well as mechanical parts. There’s an old joke that Fiat stands for “Fix it again, Tony,” and whoever invented that joke probably owned a Multipla at one time.
4. The Fiat Multipla was expensive to maintain
The unreliable nature of the Fiat Multipla makes it costly to maintain. Engines and transmissions are relatively trouble-free, but exhaust and fuel system issues are common. Electrical gremlins can also raise their ugly heads, especially if the car is poorly maintained.
Like any car, the key to buying a relatively inexpensive and problem-free vehicle is to find a good one. This can be difficult with the Multipla since the oldest examples are going on 25 years old, and many have lived hard lives as family or courier/delivery vehicles.
The Fiat Multipla is still a unique and true MPV
Like today’s crossovers and minivans, the Fiat Multipla is a true multi-purpose vehicle (MPV). Need space for five to six people and their luggage? The Multipla has it covered. Want to haul boxes or move furniture? Just remove the seats, and the Multipla offers a surprising amount of room. What about a small, practical, and economical car? Unlike a minivan or crossover, the Multipla has that covered too.
Yes, it’s odd looking and can be expensive or unreliable. However, it’s also cheap to buy and goes easy on gas. Best of all, its odd looks are unmistakable, so you’ll never lose it in a parking lot.