WHILE expertise in the supermini market is widely accepted, Fiat has in the past struggled to step up to the family hatchback class with any success.
That may have changed, though, with the stylish and sporty Bravo.
It has actually been around since 2007 when it replaced the unheralded Stilo - but still seems to slip under many people's radar when they consider compact family options.
Prospective buyers, though, may do well to cast their eyes a little further afield than the usual Golf, Focus and the like and take a glance in the direction of this thoroughbred Italian model.
It may not have everything that the Ford or VW options can offer but, in a strange way, that may be the secret of it's appeal.
The Bravo offers something a little more distinct, more individual, something that indicates a willingness to go your own way rather than follow the populist crowd.
The bods at Fiat's design centre have certainly come up with an easy-on-the-eye hatch that displays impressive sporty lines.
The flared wheel arches, steeply raked windscreen, and tapering side windows all take their cues from a coupe.
And on this Sport spec model the racy looks are dialled up further with the inclusion of eyecatching alloys, sideskirts, a rear spoiler, red brake callipers and a chrome twin exhaust.
Inside too, the feel is stylish and distinctive with bespoke, high quality upholstery and door panels picked out in colours that complement the exterior paint job.
There's also a multi-function leather sports steering wheel, leather gear knob and aluminium sports pedals.
And you won't feel cramped, despite the swooping roofline, with the Bravo cabin proving more than comfortable for four adults who have the benefit of a generous list of creature comforts including air conditioning, cruise control, stereo and Fiat's Blue and Me hands free phone system.
Useful storage includes trays beneath the front passenger seat and in a useful flip down rear armrest.
The only let down is that you have to pay extra if you want all four side windows to be automatic.
Under the bonnet the 1.4 MultiAir engine proves to be a real highlight - managing to deliver some sharp performance and good economy with the help of automatic start/stop technology.
Despite being the most powerful petrol option on offer in the Bravo range at 140bhp - this unit should also be the cheapest to run.
The MultiAir, as the name suggests, uses air to boost the performance of the engine and means that you can eke out just shy of 50mpg.
Performance, though, remains sprightly with the 0-62mph dash coming up in 8.5 seconds and a top speed of 127mph while handling is sharp and road and wind noise minimal.
You would be hard-pushed to call this a hot hatch but there is a sport button here which firms up the set-up and adds a little more excitement to the drive for those who desire it.