1996 Fiat Barchetta LE 16v 1.8 from UK and Ireland


A nippy feel-good roadster that is more practical than you think


Roof has cracked over the hinge. Tends to leak a bit at the junction with the windscreen when parked, but not when driving.

Variator replaced free of charge with no quibbles by FIAT of Southend.

Bootlid tends to dent easily.

General Comments:

I bought it because I loved the styling, thought it sounded like a proper roadster (with DTR exhaust) and was not as common as the MX-5 or MGF.

Cabin works well with great steering. Gearbox can be tight if changing in a hurry.

Nippy round town, but best on the country roads. The only time left hand drive is a problem is when you are trying to overtake on a dead straight road with no passenger. Cruises at 160Km/h if required, where allowed.

Handling as good as can be for a light, but poky front-wheel drive car. A bit skittish over uneven roads in the corners. The bonus of FWD is that the boot is therefore big enough to take a half set of golf clubs or enough luggage for a holiday for two.

Other problems? The build quality is definitely more Italian than Japanese, but then the Barchetta actually looks good.

Last time the girlfriend borrowed it for 5 days she got asked out 3 times!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 12th September, 2002

15th Oct 2007, 07:54

Last time the glfriend borrowed the B it got away from her (quote of the year..'Its only a base Punto in a new skin darling') drove over the edge of a carpark and did 2k of damage!

1996 Fiat Barchetta 1.8 from UK and Ireland


A very risky purchase - DON'T


Oil pump failed, engine failure, cam-belt came off, at 30000miles.

Hood leaked.

Radio did not work.

Windows did not lift.

Engine repaired by Leamington FIAT dealer at a cost of GBP 1500.

Engine failed 2 weeks later as the camshafts had not been replaced the first time.

FIAT dealer refused to repair this at their cost. Another bill for GBP 500.

General Comments:

This car is very poor quality.

The dealers are the worst kind of 70's lags you will ever have the 'pleasure' to deal with.

The handling was OK, but it is still FWD.

The cabin is filled with terrible low budget materials which are fitted badly. It is not a nice environment, though it looks nice inside (from a distance - i.e. outside).

You can never relax driving it as you are terrified it will break down again.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 2nd November, 2001

1996 Fiat Barchetta Convertible 1.8 from UK and Ireland


Buy with caution


Common variator problem, part had been replaced once, failed again just out of warranty!

Cost £200 ex vat.

Electric windows slowing up.

Poor radio reception, newer models have new parts.

Steering wheel horn broke costing £220 ex vat.

Standard exhaust system expensive to replace £280 ex vat.

Door handles freeze up in cold weather and you can't enter the car.

Handbrake freezes in cold weather and you can't move car if you managed to enter it first.

Fiat Code key system needed fixing 3 times.

Insurance IS EXTREMELY expensive, compares with a new BMW 3 series 2.8 at group 17!

General Comments:

Handling great.

Performance great.

Styling first class.

Build awful.

Electrics awful.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 31st May, 2000

15th Jul 2004, 17:14

I live in Scotland so I can relate to the problems that the car faces in winter. However, it's a car designed for Summer not Arctic conditions. My winter driving problems were solved by buying an old Volvo with long mot for £150 at auction.

It's not fair to judge a Summer car from Winter driving experiences.

1st Aug 2007, 04:58

Standard Fiat issues. Even the new Croma doors/brakes freeze on.

Fix is silicon spray on the door rubbers.. stops freezing. Handbrake work around is to leave the car in gear and handbrake off.

Best of all (it's a lightweight summer car) is a heated garage to store it in and a Skoda diesel for winter weather.

15th Oct 2007, 07:49

I use mine all year round and have solved the various problems. BTW these are all standard Fiat/Alfa/Lancia issues. If you pay 50k for a Brera the handbrake STILL freezes on.. modern design..yeah right!

The brakes freeze on when the water gets into the rubber boots on the end of the cables and freezes. The fix is to buy aftermarket cables, the cable is sealed in plastic. Better quality and not expensive if you get the garage to fix them during a service.

Don't fold the hood down in really cold weather.. it splits along the window line.. yes indeed.