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Fiat Coupé (1993-2000)

Published: 19th Dec 2012 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Fast Facts

  • Engine: 1998cc/5-cyl
  • Power (bhp/rpm): 220/5750
  • Torque (lb ft@rpm): 229/2500
  • Top speed: 155mph
  • 0-60mph: 6.5sec
  • Fuel consumption: 29mpg
  • Transmission: 5-speed manual
  • Length: 13ft 9in (4.25m)
  • Width (inc mirrors): 5ft 9.5in (1.766m)
  • Weight: 2882lb (1310kg)
  • Clubs: http://www.coupefiat.info
    http://www.fiatcoupe.net
  • Websites: Fiat Coupé Owners’ Club: http://www.fccuk.org
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If you reckon classics have to be half a century old, dripping with chrome and ergonomically suspect, you won’t have much time for the Fiat Coupé. But if you’re happy to accept than in recent years there have been some cracking cars released, which are already wor th collecting, this Italian sportster might just tickle your fancy. Stylish, usable, affordable and great fun to drive, the Coupé overcomes many of the hurdles presented by some of the more established classics, and although the Coupé may seem very new, it’s almost two decades since it debuted.

Offering a top speed of 155mph with four-seat practicality, the 20-valve Turbo was the fastest front-wheel drive production car of its time. Even the normally aspirated edition promises over 130mph, with great handling, ample practicality and decent reliability, and despite Fiat’s reputation for building water-soluble cars, the Coupé doesn’t corrode. What’s not to love?

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What to look for

With zinc-plated panels, rust shouldn’t be an issue, but poor crash repairs are common. On earlier Coupés lift the boot carpet and check for corrosion along the seam where the fl oor meets the wheelarches. It’s down to leaking boot seals; fi xing the leaks is easy enough, but repairs can be tricky because of the panel construction.

Early Coupés featured the same 1995cc four-pot as the Lancia Delta Integrale. A reliable enough unit, camshafts wear out eventually and the oil cooler pipes below the radiator can rust through, leading to the engine being wrecked. The later 1998cc fi ve-cylinder engine is also strong, and usually fi tted in turbocharged form. Failed thermostats are common, but they tend to stay open rather than shut, leading to high fuel consumption. Exhaust manifolds crack (replacements are £400) and turbos fail (£700 for the parts only). All engines feature timing and auxiliary belts that need to be replaced regularly too.

Gearboxes and diffs are strong (the Turbo has an LSD), but clutch slave cylinders leak. Beware of worn clutches as replacements are costly, and tired suspension is common. The front lower wishbone bushes wear (listen for clonks over speed bumps) and rear wheelbearings are weak, so listen for chattering as you corner. Warped brake discs are also common, while fl exi hoses collapse internally and the steel brake pipes corrode.

Interior trim is durable but the air-con packs up, as does the central locking. The radio’s signal booster fails too, but replacements are available. Finally, try to get all the keys; from late 1996 there were three. The silver one is for everyday use, the blue is the spare and the red is the master key, which allows fresh keys to be coded more easily.

Values

You can secure a four or five-cylinder Coupé from under £1000, but buy on condition rather than spec. Usable 20V Turbos start at just £1500 – but £2000 gets something noticeably better. The best Limited Edition or Turbo Plus cars fetch £4000-£5000. The most sought after Coupés are the Limited Edition (the spec of which became the norm from August 1999), while the Turbo Plus has a higher cosmetic spec than the standard Turbo – but it’s mechanically identical.

Driving one

Thanks to its front-wheel drive the Coupé is sure-footed yet surprisingly entertaining, while all versions are extremely swift – and quite staggering with the Integrale five pot engine. Interior space isn’t bad, but space is tight for four adults. Maintenance is straightforward so you can DIY it easily enough. It’s also easy to upgrade a Coupé, but it’s unlikely that you’ll need to; the standard car is so capable that trying to make it even better is usually entirely unnecessary. So be wary of cars that have had significant mechanical upgrades, as the car may well have been thrashed; stronger brakes are the exception to this.

Evolution

1993:

The Coupé debuts in Europe.

Jun 95:

The first cars reach UK showrooms with a 1995cc 16V engine, in 137bhp normally aspirated or 195bhp turbocharged forms.

Mar 96:

A 1.8-litre car debuts, for LHD European markets only.

Nov 96:

All Coupés get a 1998cc fi ve-cylinder engine in normally aspirated or turbocharged guises.

Jul 98:

Limited Edition (300 UK sales) arrives.

Jun 99:

The 147bhp normally aspirated 20v engine is superseded by a 154bhp 20v VIS (Variable Inlet System) unit with a fly-by-wire throttle.

Aug 99:

A six-speed gearbox is now standard and the Turbo Plus appears with Viscodrive LSD, 16” wheels, leather trim.



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