If you can live with a car that looks a bit boxy, the new Fiat Qubo Diesel Estate is a pretty good all-rounder. It’s very practical, boasts a massive boot, and visibility is excellent.
It’s affordable to buy and run, and makes perfect sense for families who need a dependable, sensible small people carrier for long distance trips, and who aren’t concerned about looks.
OSV takes a closer look at what it’s all about with our 2018 Fiat Qubo Diesel Estate review.
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Overview of the Fiat Qubo Diesel Estate
On the Road
The Qubo is a tall car, but it’s also fairly compact and this ensures that it’s pretty nimble to drive. It leans a little if you take a corner with too much enthusiasm, but other than that it’s relatively composed.
It’s also quite comfortable for the most part, although harsher surfaces will cause it to fidget a bit. That’s to be expected, though.
A Trekking version is available, but while it looks more rugged than the standard model it doesn’t come with four-wheel drive. Instead, Fiat have given it Traction+, a system that brakes the wheel with the least amount of grip at any one time before sending power to the other wheels. It’s a system that will prove especially useful in snow or mud.
There are a couple of engines on offer but just one diesel. This is a 1.3-litre MultiJet unit that’s a tad on the slow side. It takes 16.5 seconds to complete the 0-62 dash, which is on par with what the 1.4-litre petrol engine can manage.
We prefer the diesel, however; overall, it’s better suited to the Qubo, thanks to its healthy amount of mid-range shove and pulling power. Indeed, it’s just what a car like this needs, and it’s also a lot more economical. The petrol struggles to return 40mpg, while the diesel is good for 63mpg.
The diesel comes paired up with a 5-speed manual gearbox as standard, but you can specify a Dualogic sequential automatic gearbox if you’d prefer. It’s almost like a normal automatic ‘box but can offer better fuel consumption.
Fiat Qubo Diesel Estate Interior, Design and Build
Fiat have crafted some odd-looking cars over the years, and the Qubo is no exception. It’s hardly what you’d called nice to look at, but its boxy shape betrays a certain functionality that buyers shopping for cars in this market will appreciate.
Inside, the car’s tall body means that visibility is good overall. That said, there is a caveat, with the large door mirrors and windscreen pillars causing a blind spot when you approach roundabouts and junctions.
The controls are nice and chunky, well located and easy to use. And although we’ve been a bit critical of the Qubo’s aesthetics, there’s really nothing wrong with the way the dashboard is designed. It will never win top marks for style but it looks perfectly fine.
As is the nature with cars like this, there are plenty of harder materials – but that really is to be expected.
Comfort, meanwhile, is decent, while insulation is better if you opt for the diesel engine over the petrol. There’ll still be smoke and wind noise but it’s not too bad at all.
Is the Fiat Qubo Diesel Estate practical? Sliding rear doors means that access is super easy, and all occupants should be reasonably comfortable on longer trips thanks to a decent amount of leg and headroom.
The sliding rear doors also make it simple to install child seats.
The boot, meanwhile, measures 330-litres, and this can be extended to a whopping 2,500-litres when you fold the rear seats flat. That makes it a lot bigger than the Ford Mondeo Estate, a car against which most others are measured in this class.
Equipment and Safety of the Fiat Qubo Diesel Estate
Standard kit across the range is decent but the entry-level Active trim is sparsely equipped. It gets traction control and steel wheels, but even the likes of a CD player and a height adjustable driver’s seat are optional.
The Dynamic is far better equipped; it adds air conditioning, roof rails, front fog lights, a height adjustable driver’s seat and alloys. The Lounge model adds body coloured bumpers.
In terms of safety, the Qubo hasn’t been crash-tested by Euro NCAP. The Citroen Nemo MultiSpace is its closest cousin, and it scored a disappointing 3/5.
Like the Nemo, the Qubo doesn’t come with ESP stability control – either as standard or as an optional extra. Its standard safety kit includes seatbelt pre-tensioners, side airbags, twin front airbags, and ISOFIX child seat mounting points.
And while there are concerns over its safety, reliability is much better and it’s clear that this is a car that’s really well put together.
If you want to find out more about how reliable Fiat cars are read our unbiased summary here.
Costs of the Fiat Qubo Diesel Estate
Prices for the new car start out from £12,160 and rise to £16,005.
In terms of its running costs, the sole diesel engine in the range can return as much as 60mpg on a good day and can keep going for 600 miles if you fill its tank right up. That’s pretty impressive.
Maintenance and insurance will both be cheap too, and you can specify a £399 Easy Care package that includes the Qubo’s first three services. That said, Fiat dealers have a bit of a poor reputation when it comes to the quality of their service.
Pros and Cons of the Fiat Qubo Diesel Estat
It’s a great choice for families who need a practical car. Sliding doors and lots of leg and headroom are all part of the deal.
Running costs are great, insurance costs are low and prices start out from just over £12,000.
It can be extended to a massive 2,500-litres.
Dull to drive
It’s also slow – painfully slow.
It’s unconventionally and awkwardly styled.
Fiat Qubo Diesel Estate vs Skoda Yeti vs Peugeot Bipper Tepee
Let’s see how the car fares against its rivals in the comparison section of our 2018 Fiat Qubo Diesel Estate review.
Fiat Qubo Diesel Estate vs Skoda Yeti
The new Skoda Yeti is an assertive-looking, practical all-rounder that’s one of the best cars of its type.
It’s a hefty car, but it’s decent – and even a bit fun – to drive. The steering is precise, the gearbox is nice and smooth, and the controls are perfectly positioned. Whether it’s in the towns and cities or in rougher terrain, the Yeti is a highly capable car.
In terms of its engines, there’s just one petrol available. This is a 1.2-litre TSI unit that develops 108bhp. It has a good amount of power, excels on the motorway – but does make a fair bit of noise when you push it hard.
The diesel engines are a better fit. Both are variants of a 2.0-litre unit, with the smaller of the two developing 109bhp and the bigger of the two developing 148bhp. Both are fine, though we’d recommend going for the 148bhp variant if you can afford it because its extra power will prove useful.
It’s also the only diesel that can be specified with an automatic gearbox. That said, we prefer the manual ‘box.
Running costs? Stick to two-wheel drive, and the 109bhp diesel is able to return over 60mpg, which is about the same as what the petrol engine can manage. The four-wheel-drive 148bhp diesel, meanwhile, is good for 55.4mpg economy, which is very decent.
Inside, the Yeti is a perfectly fine place to spend your time on the road. The ride is firm at times but the seats are comfortable and the build quality is excellent. Moreover, the materials look robust enough to deal with whatever you can throw at them.
The dashboard is typical VW fare. Everything looks and feels solid and the buttons and controls are well located.
Is the Skoda Yeti practical? There’s plenty of interior space on offer for the driver and their passengers, with its wide dimensions ensuring that everyone is well accommodated. A smart Varioflex rear seating system is a nice touch and gives the Yeti a versatility that many of its rivals lack. That said, four adults will be more comfortable than five.
The driving position is fantastic, while storage solutions include a reasonably sized glovebox and lots of cubbies.
The boot, meanwhile, measures 416-litres.
Fiat – £12,160 – £16,005
Skoda – £20,875 – £29,095
Fiat Qubo Diesel Estate vs Peugeot Bipper Tepee
The Peugeot Bipper Tepee is affordable to buy and run, boasts a versatile interior – but does feel a bit cheap and bumpy inside.
Despite being a fairly awkward looking small people carrier, the Peugeot is actually quite easy to drive. The upright driving position and raised front seats mean that visibility is very good, and the steering is fairly accurate and direct.
The biggest problem is the engine. There’s just one available, and it’s a 1.3-litre diesel unit that develops a modest 75bhp. In the towns and cities, that’s fine, but on steeper hills or out on the open road, it’s an engine that’s going to struggle.
That said, it performs ably on the motorway, where it works well as a cruiser. Buyers will wish there was more power, though, and overall it’s hard to recommend over the Fiat.
Running costs? If you fit the Bipper Tepee with an EGC automatic gearbox, you can return as much as 67.2mpg. Stick with the manual ‘box, and you’ll average around 65.5mpg, which still isn’t bad. Servicing bills and insurance are both super low, and costs are one of this car’s strengths.
Inside, the car’s commercial-vehicle roots reveal themselves when you tackle bumpy roads. The ride is smooth until this point, but its suspension can’t cope well with rougher surfaces.
Overall, the cabin is functional and – for the most part – comfortable. It’s also reasonably well equipped, although it’s a shame that the entry-level model misses out on air conditioning.
Is the Peugeot Bipper Tepee practical? Legroom is good for most people, with only six foot plus adults struggling. The rear bench affords passengers an excellent view of the road and headroom is good.
There are caveats, of course, and it’s strange that Peugeot decided to add pop-out windows. They don’t open fully, which means your passengers are going to get pretty hot back there on longer trips.
The sliding rear doors are a great practical touch, providing as they do easy access to the back seats.
The boot, meanwhile, measures 356-litres and comes with a wide but low opening that makes loading your items into it a cinch. It can also be extended to 2,500-litres by folding the rear seats.
Peugeot – £12,000 +
Verdict Of Our 2018 Fiat Qubo Diesel Estate Review
Any family car that’s based on a commercial vehicle is going to lose style points, but if you can live with that there’s a lot to like about the friendly and accommodating Qubo. In terms of practicality, it’s exceptional and few other cars can offer this much head and legroom to everyone on board. Its 2,500-litre is also unrivalled, and it’s ideal for families working on a budget.
The compromises are there to see – zero aesthetics, a dated interior and a lack of charm on the whole. For families who just want a workhorse to take them on trips and help with DIY projects, though, the Fiat Qubo Diesel Estate is just fine.