1993 Fiat Tempra SX 2.0 turbo diesel from UK and Ireland


Tops for DIYers


I few years ago I tried to live the Italian dream with a Fiat and said, "Never, never ever in my life will I own one again". But after owning a Rover 800 did I think well "they're not that bad and at least they're cheaper". So when the chance to own a Tempra Diesel SX SW 1993 came along, well I could not and would not resist the challenge to take on and beat this myth that all Italian family cars are crap.

All went well for about 200 miles then a strange little light flashed on the "Electronic Check". That's it I thought, "The end is Nigh". "It's straight to the scrap yard with you." But no. It was telling me a bulb had gone in the number plate. "Was that it?" I said. This car is telling me something that I needed to know. "Wow Cool". 55p later and an exchange of bulbs, no more warning light.

"WOW " again, many miles later and it breezed through an MOT, it didn't even need a re-test. Straight through. No problem. I'm still got post dramatic stress disorder from that one. I wrote straight away to my local Fiat dealer for confirmation that had this ever happened before. Handbrake failure. Emissions, etc etc. but apparently this had occurred before. Does Fiat make a half decent car or am I the lucky one?

20,000 miles later, an exhaust and replacement tyres later, I'm still smitten and think it's still better than my Rover 800 by about 18,900 miles.

General Comments:

Terrific, forgive all its faults. If you're a "DIY repair" type of guy then it's a cheap car. If you're a "dealer repair" type of guy, get yourself a Toyota, it'll cost you a fortune.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 14th April, 2003

15th Aug 2005, 02:58

An excellent review, well written and very informative.

This review has (almost) made my mind up to buy the Tempra diesel I have been offered to replace the VW Passat my wife has just driven for the last time.

(She decided to drive off the road, down a three foot drop to an olive grove and prune six trees-that I've now had to pay for! Luckily she was OK, but the poor old VW, after five years of faithful service, will never see the road again!)

The review was detailed and informative and also made me smile. My new Tempra, when I get it, will be driven here in Spain among a mixture of high speed motorway driving and twisty mountain road driving, plus a little local town/village cruising, so the write up here has certainly helped.

Thank you to the writer (who is not named)

Bob fretwell, Spain.

1993 Fiat Tempra S.W. SX 1.8 i.e. from Austria


I love it! Very chic and practical car, if you can live with some imperfections!


Nothing serious or unusual for a car of this age and mileage under Austrian driving conditions (icy and salted (!) roads in winter, sometimes "Italian" temperatures in summer)!

- some faults were fixed by the dealer within half a year after purchase (fuel injection air pressure sensor, dashboard lights, flexible pipe between exhaust manifold and catalytic converter, central engine mount,..). This was covered by the used car warranty offered by the dealer, I just had to insist very intensely.

- locking mechanism of luggage hatch broke. Since I have a Station Wagon, I could dismantle the mechanism from inside and permanently fix it myself (soldering it together).

- engine idle problem in summer (sometimes revving up, sometimes stalling) at around 80.000km. Cleaned idle control valve and all involved electrical connectors - works fine ever since.

- cooling system thermostat replaced (originally resulted in low engine temperature and poor passenger heating)

- radiator leaked (corroded) at 100.000km, replaced.

- seals of rear brake cylinders leaked, replaced brake cylinders at 105.000km.

- muffler and tailpipe replaced at 110.000km (corroded due to lots of short distance city traffic)

- leaking oil, most probably through crankshaft seal on flywheel side, not critical. NOT burning significant amounts of oil, though!

- The electronic dashboard lights tend to burn out quite often. I took the dashboard off already three times (once a year), to replace the light-bulbs. In the meantime I can do this in 15 minutes, which is the positive thing about this one piece dashboard unit.

- clutch nowadays starts to become jerkier and develops noise, maybe has to be replaced next.

Apart from these unscheduled events, I did a number of preventive maintenance jobs:

- valves adjusted and ignition checked at 80.000km.

- drive belt and balance shaft belt changed at 90.000km (now this was really expensive, the only repair I had done at a garage, ~900 Euro)

- shock absorbers replaced at 90.000km. The old ones were still OK, but since I plan to use this car up to 160.000km, I wanted to profit from the Monroe SensaTracs, I installed. Very wise investment in terms of comfort, ride stability and braking safety, by the way!

- replaced front brake discs and pads at 100.000km, they just were worn out (usual for this mileage)

- brake fluid change every two years, frequent engine oil changes, frequent car wash (especially in winter),...


Holding a masters degree in mechanical engineering and considering myself an expert in automotive technology, I have a different, but critical viewpoint. The general technical concept of this car is very good (considering it's age), but the build quality is quite poor. Wherever manual assembly was involved, this was done very careless.

For example, the first winter in this car I suffered cold feet, because the carpet covered the air vent to the foot-well. They simply forgot to cut the appropriate hole into the carpet!

So if you have some spare time (to me it's kind of a hobby) and automotive knowledge, you can get rid of some imperfections of this car. Otherwise it could be annoying to some people. Still it is a very practical and highly underrated car.

A comment on FIAT service:

It is absolutely lousy, they are extremely unfriendly and let you wait for hours (on the phone and in the shop). What's worse, often they are simply incompetent, just not trustworthy and usually very expensive.

Consequently I try to fix everything myself, and purchase spare parts at third party providers (which works quickly and much cheaper here in Austria).

They just have a nice and competent sales guy, who brought me to FIAT in the first place.

General Comments:

Well, I love this car. Perfect family car for city and countryside (that is the Station Wagon model), still compact, but roomy inside. I'm 2 meters tall and have enough room (at least more than in Audi A6, Volvo V70, BMW 5-Series). It has 500 liters of boot capacity below the cover, which is quite a lot and can still be loaded above. Also it still feels very stable and safe on the road, even when fully loaded to the rim with kids, luggage and skiing equipment.

The car is used by my wife to lift the kids around town and by me for trips to the mountains, and it is just a perfect compromise. Excellent handling, yet comfortable suspension. The engine (1.8ie) is very smooth, thanks to the balance shafts. 160 km/h is a perfect smooth cruising speed on the highway - little engine and wind noise, high fuel consumption though (long term average: 11 liters/100 km). The engine lacks a little low end torque, but above 3000rpm it takes off quite well. The suspension is comfortable, yet responsive, providing swift cornering abilities and directional stability at the same time. Its not a sports car, but still much fun to drive and to cruise.

The brakes need some firm pressure, but then provide decent deceleration. I don't have ABS, but I think I never was in a situation where I needed it. The unique load adjusting rear brake pressure regulator ads some stability.

I still like it's wedge-like "Italian" design, being sleek, and somewhat different. Exhibiting individual lines, I think the design is somehow timeless. Even the aerodynamics is supposed to be quite good (I don't have figures for the SW, but the sedan was record holder in it's class, cw=0,28). I even got used to the digital dashboard, which glows like Christmas illumination at night. The galvanized body is still free of corrosion (no rust at all after 10 years, wow) and the metallic paint still looks very nice. Even the interior and upholstery looks quite OK, despite my 2 kids (= little devils).

Conclusion: Apart from the fuel consumption the Tempra SW offers a tremendous value for it's prize. The fuel consumption for the smaller engines (or diesel) is probably much better.

What I miss:

- lower fuel consumption, its rather high for a car of this size (well, the balance shafts and the DOHC design take it's tribute).

- Air bag (who knows)

- Air-Condition, but to expensive to refit (and still higher fuel consumption)

- Engine pre-heater (nice to have, could reduce city fuel consumption in winter)

About FIAT: No wonder, that the company is in trouble, considering the way, they treat their customers. The engineering is great, excellent ideas, nice engines, cool styling. Maybe it will be a General Motors division soon.

Since there are no plans to build a car of the Tempra-size in future (only smaller ones), I'm not sure if I will stick with this company.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 9th December, 2002

29th Jun 2007, 22:45

I have a 91 Tempra 1.8 and for the life of me can't figure out what the symbol is on the electronic check on the digital dashboard. It's the one on the far left. Can someone tell me what it means please?


1993 Fiat Tempra SW SX 1.9 turbo diesel from UK and Ireland


Let down badly by poor reliability and poor service from Fiat


The speedometer cable became disconnected, so the reading on the digital speedometer was a constant zero irrespective of what speed you were traveling at.

The electric sunroof became distorted one hot summer in England, but has proved too expensive to replace.

The central locking and the boot lock stopped working properly, resulting in a costly repair.

The diesel injectors have started to leak a number of times, spraying diesel all over the engine, but replacement costs have tended to be low.

More recently (107,000 miles) the clutch requires replacement.

General Comments:

For a family with a dog the car has proved to be very practical, obtaining reasonable performance and fuel economy.

However, the reliability of the car has proved to be poor, relating to the general mechanics of the car.

Our experiences with Fiat service centers have left a great deal to be desired - in our experience they have offered the worst customer service of any car maker we have used (and that is quite a few). Typical things included having to wait months for parts to arrive after ordering, only to discover that the incorrect parts were ordered in the first place. The service costs have always been incredibly high, so total cost of ownership is high. The standard and quality of work has also been very poor. I will never buy a Fiat again on the basis of these experiences, particularly when we complained to the service manager no apology was even offered.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 8th September, 2002

1993 Fiat Tempra SX 2.0 from Thailand


I do love it, even it always has problems


It always has an electronic problem.

The engine is very hot when in traffic jams (approximately 100 C).

General Comments:

Dealer should give more professional service than today.

The dashboard is not suitable for the tropic of cancer, it always broken or melts.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 19th July, 2001