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The old saying that beauty is in the eye of the beholder certainly applies to the Fiat Multipla. In 2000, it won both “Car of the Year” and “Ugliest Car” honors from TopGear. It’s surprisingly spacious and incredibly practical for a vehicle less than 160 inches long. Still, depending on who you ask, it either looks like a beluga whale, a pregnant guppy, or just… weird. 

Love or hate the looks, there’s a lot to like about the Fiat Multipla. In addition to the space, which we’ll talk more about, it’s also a good driver’s car and offer’s a rewarding driver’s experience. In fact, Hotcars calls it “an enthusiast’s dream.” With that in mind, here are six reasons why this infamous Fiat MPV deserves some love. 

1. Great visibility and driver’s position

Once you get past the homely looks, you can start to appreciate how great the view is from the driver’s seat. The elevated seating position, coupled with large windows and a low beltline, makes for incredible visibility. The Fiat Multipla has minimal blind spots and offers a panoramic view for the driver and passengers.    

2. Visible controls and driver’s display 

In addition to the view of the road, the Fiat Multipla provides a very visible driver’s display and easy access to the controls, according to HotCars. The layout is simplified with the gauge pod and controls all neatly arranged in the center stack. Everything is located within easy reach of the driver.  

3. Smooth transmission

A side profile shot of a light gray 2009 Fiat Multipla model lacking the distinctive high headlights
2009 Fiat Multipla | National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images

People praise Honda and Porsche for the location and quality of the shifter, but the Fiat Multipla deserves that same level of kudos. The shift knob is positioned close to the wheel and falls readily to hand. Likewise, the clutch is progressive and easy to modulate. These tropes are overused but accurate in describing the Multipla.   

4. Responsive brakes

Another thing the Fiat Multipla doesn’t lack is stopping power. Brakes are more than adequate and responsive, offing sure-footed stopping power on all surfaces. They also offer a good feel, inspiring the same level of confidence you’d get in a previously mentioned Honda or Porsche. 

5. Accurate handling and steering

The Fiat Multipla looks a bit top-heavy due to its low beltline, a feeling reinforced by the soft suspension and body roll. However, the steering is accurate, allowing for secure handling. You wouldn’t drive the Multipla around a race course, but it won’t embarrass itself when the road gets twisty. 

6. Plenty of space

We mentioned space earlier, and that’s where the Fiat Multipla really shines. It’s surprisingly roomy, but how that space can be utilized is what makes the Multipla so unique. It offers creative versatility that is almost unmatched. 

The Multipla has seating for six people, arranged in two rows of three people. It also offers “walk-through” entry and egress, and all seats are comfortable. All of the seats fold flat, offering a lot of room for cargo. The rear seats can also be moved forward or back to allow for more cargo or legroom. And the middle row has a table design with cupholders on their backs so they can be used for a picnic or added storage. 

The Fiat Multipla is a true multi-purpose vehicle (MPV)

Mazda once made a small minivan called the Mazda 5, which before that was called the MPV. It was small but convenient, with room for six. Remove the seats, and it would hold a ton of cargo. Plus, it was fun to drive. Highly competent and economical, it unfortunately never caught on in the U.S. and is now all but forgotten. 

The Fiat Multipla offers those same qualities in a smaller vehicle with distinctive styling… or at least a look that can be described as unique. As a car, it’s a true MPV that stands out in the crowd and will always receive more interest and attention than anything it’s parked next to. 

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