Fiat launches fun(q)y Qubo
CUBICALLY COMICAL: That's a first impression but the son of Multipla and Doblo has qualities a family with a sense of humour will appreciate.
Author: JANINE-LEE GORDON
If you’re picturing a square or cube by hearing the name Qubo, well, that’s basically what it is – a cubic MPV on wheels with a lot of windows and some curves just so it doesn’t look like a box is being driven around.
Fiat SA, or Chrysler Group SA, has launched what it believes is the answer for small families. Remember the Fiat Multipla with its space-creature looks? Well, it had a one-night stand with the Fiat Doblo and, behold, we have the urban Qubo - minus the two extra headlights.
Its peculiar styling might take some getting used to but it really is a cute little thing in its own special way - once it rubs off on you. Practical, deceivingly spacious, quite economical and a price tag of less than R200 000 is not something at which to turn up your nose.
The Qubo has sliding rear side doors, removable rear seats and a claimed 1000km tank range for the diesel model.
Fiat SA’s advertising manager Poppy Matshaya told us at the launch in Cape Town: “Fiat transforms every day into a good day.” No, she didn’t borrow the lyrics from rapper Ice Cube. However, the car does showcase their new way of thinking - simply more.
It was originally launched in Europe in 2008 but the group’s spokesperson Richard Sloman said: “Since Fiat has only recently come under the Chrysler Group banner we have no idea what reasons there were for not bringing in the car but we decided there’s gap in the market for it now.”
The Qubo is the third car launched so far in 2013 so far for the group; preceding it were the January launches of the Jeep Compass Altitude and Grand Cherokee SRT8 Alpine.
There are only two engine derivatives: a 1.4 petrol and a 1.3 Multijet turbodiesel, each with a five-speed manual gearbox and no plans for an auto unless demand builds.
The diesel engine makes 55kW at 4000rpm and 190Nm at 1750rpm with a top speed of 155km/h and a claimed combined fuel consumption of 4.6 litres/100km with 115g/km of CO2.
The petrol engine makes 54kW at 5200rpm and 118Nm at 2600rpm with the same top speed as the diesel. Claimed fuel consumption is seven litres/100km with 152g/km of C02.
The launch included a winding drive to Hout Bay, back to town and then off north around Table Bay to Melkbosstrand. It’s a gutsy little car by the sea; how it will fare, loaded, up on the Reef will be interesting.
It’s easy and comfortable to drive but it really could use an auto box in killer city traffic. Perhaps everybody else will think so and Fiat SA can do something about it.
There’s a whole lot of space inside the car though at first glance rear legroom looks tiny. Once inside it’s a different story. You can’t exactly stretch out but it’s OK. The bonus lies in the headroom.
The front passenger seat folds flat, as do the rear seats which also tumble forward. It doesn’t end there though: flip it forward and pull,and the seats can be removed to make space for, say, a bicycle, a couple of surfboards or even an mastiff and two Great Danes.
Every nook and cranny has a storage compartment , the cloth seats look quite durable and there are 10 body colours - four pastels and six metallics.
Other than a roof rack, tow hitch and kick plate set, pretty much everything you’ll need is already in the ca: Bluetooth with steering wheel-mounted controls, USB port, leather-wrapped steering wheel, power windows and aircon.
GOOD, ER, LOOKS
While the car is box-shaped the front bumper protrudes forward to protect the headlights and bonnet areas. (Those Doblo and Multipla genes run deep.)
Because of the car’s 1755mm height there’s a lot of window glass right round the car – kids will love that. The sliding doors allow easy rear access and prevent said little ones from slamming the doors into a wall or an adjacent parked car.
The Fiat Qubo will be delivered with a three year or 100 000km maintenance plan and warranty. First service at 20 000km.
Fiat Qubo 1.4 petrol - R177 990
Fiat Qubo 1.3 diesel - R199 990