General Fiat Stilo Abarth, potential purchase any big issues to watch for?

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General Fiat Stilo Abarth, potential purchase any big issues to watch for?


New member
Jan 4, 2018
Hello Fiat Forum,

I've been a member here for a few years when i purchase a Fiat Punto Sporting as a cheap hack, a job it performed superbly. I was always impressed by the collective knowledge so here I am again asking for advice.

Various family requirements saw the little Fiat go and a diesel estate (Jaguar X-Type) replace it, turns out we didn't need a big estate so I've sold it and now looking for something to make me smile.

I've been looking at various things for a while and seemed to gravitate towards a VW Golf, they're not without fault but on the whole you get a whole lot of well thought out car. Including the dreaded fanboi, VW's are good but they're not THAT good and VW's command premium prices even the worn out, whipped dogs go for silly money (its all relative but i'm working with a limited budget).

Trawling through eBay for inspiration, always dangerous in the small hours with a drink inside you, I found a Stilo Abarth. Initially I dismissed it on sight, Fiat aren't good at big cars, right?... But i decided to see what the auto-journalists made of it anyway and the reviews were surprising. It seems like the entire world did exactly what I did in the first few seconds and ignored it. Most reviews were about how well screwed together the Stilo is and how it was intended as a real threat to the Golf but just didn't gain traction in the market.

I like that it (Abarth version) makes it poke from cubes not turbos and the warm-hatch designation sits about right for me, I'm the wrong side of 40 and looking for a car to enjoy rather than thrash. I once followed a guy in a maxed out Golf (ironically) that had been slammed so hard i could see his eyeballs rattling, it looked so uncomfortable, still he thought he was Charlie BigSpuds so who was i to share an alternative opinion. The car does still have to perform family duties so a two seater is out and i particularly love that ever review commented on the exhaust note, thats a big plus for me. I think i'd only go for a manual as the sillyspeed set up seems like a badly executed good idea.

Are there any known issues, I gather cambelts are a bit of a pig to do and i can imagine if the engine does let go the car makes an attractive paper weight. Do these harbour electrical gremlins? What are peoples thoughts/experiences, i'd love to hear from anyone with an Abarth and get their experiences.

I'm in a golden spot at the moment of only occasionally needing a car, I have a low (15 mile) commute which I often cycle so my annual mileage is only 3-4,000 miles of running children around B-roads and country lanes.

Thanks in advance.
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Hi :)

Stilo was fiats attempt to
'Clone a golf' :eek:

Weirdly.. they didnt sell and were prone to more gremlins than your average fiat

So cheap buys from 3 years old :)

Of course Abarth is a slightly different story..

Age related..and driving style of many owners.. will see you spending time and money ( being practical and capable is a must realistically) ;)

Is it a Selespeed?

gadge is probably the person for realistic info

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Hi Charlie,

No its manual, not sure i fancy the semi-auto flappy paddle option.

Secondhand cars are always a gamble, I had a Passat (that legendary VW brand again) which ate turbos, when the turbo blew again and left me and my wife at the side of the road, literally a month after £1500 garage bill I called a scrap dealer. I'm now at a state where secondhand cars have to be disposable, running costs are fine and regular service items are expected but a big bill will probably be terminal.

The car is cheap enough to be viable, I just don't want a massive bill straight out the gates.
Yeah you can't really go wrong with the manual version. I loved my stilo it wasnt a great car in terms of quality and as charlie says was Fiats attempt to take on the golf but was generally regarded as a sales flop. But that was nearly 20 years ago and today the stilo represents fantastic value for money.

It is a great car with lots of low bottom torque, perfect handling, but it is a sports car, so it is a bumby hard ride.
Even a looker since so few and people look to see.
No big issues if maintenance is done when it should and a manual gearbox version.
Actually very reliable.
My original clutch lasted till 248000 km's and motor did till 257000 km's, which by then were passing oil by the rings which lead to carbon build up around valves cause the valves to burn.

I would advise you ask these questions before you buy a second hand one.
I would check the following depend on answer.
1. When last were timing / aux and alternator belt changed.
2. Is there any water leaks, fix immediately.
3. Does it have anti-freeze.
4. Thickness off brake disc's
5. Tyre wear should be bad in front by now, so I would replace lower control arms and shocks.
6. When last were oil /oil filter and air filter changed.

You might have to spend some money to get it back to good maintenance condition.
If the km's is very high, then motor will have to be redone at some stage ( is cost and effort worth it?)
I wanted a 3 door Stilo which had Leather seats. I bought an Abarth because finding a Stilo with Leather which wasn't an Abarth, was like finding Hens teeth :confused:.

The main issue with buying an Abarth (or any other Stilo) is that they are all now old, and of dubious ownership/use/maintenance/etc. Even if you found a pristine, low mileage, cared for example, it's going to be best part of 15 years old, with aged electronics/switches/relays/etc. Added to that the fact that they were not that popular, not many around, and not many people interested in them, and you end up with more of a liability than a pleasure :mad:.

If it weren't for the fact that I specifically wanted a Stilo, I would have gone for something else :eek:.
A few things I want to add (my stilo is from 2001 selespeed)

=> climate control flap actuators, all mine are not working, it is a assle to change them.
You can see that quickly with fiat ECU scan, they apear as faulty in the climate control default diag
If you do not have access to this, test hot / cold / up / down ..

=> Rear brush for the chassis/wheel holder, they will die, it is a stilo disease it is again a assle to do it, and fiat take a lot of money to do it.

=> The passenger seat airbag sensor, it will fail, it is expensive to change it at fiat, the best is to buy a simulator on the internet ..

=> It is consuming oil ?, the PCR valve maybe the cullprit and cannot be purshased anymore ..., I switched to 10w60 and it seems to be better ... (my engine is 100 000km)

=> fuel consumption, before going to E85, I was never bellow 10L/100km

I keep the car mostly because of E85 (I have bigger injectors) and the sound of this engine :D, have fun.

And, dont buy a selespeed, never :D
I've owned & used daily a Scumacher GP for four years now and apart from requiring new clutch cylinders+timing belt/water pump have had no problems with it at all & it's still running great. Fantastic to drive - although hard ride. Stands outside in all weather & I don't really look after it like I should so maybe I'm tempting fate. High tax bracket adds to cost but it's worth it as Scumachers particularly & Stilo's generally appear to becoming increasingly rare. I have another manual Stilo Abarth with skyroof stored in my garage for future use. It will need a timing belt change when I eventually bring it out of store. I also own two 1.9 Multijet Sporting Stilo's. The second purchased because my first was awaiting a new clutch cylinder (slave I think - it had one cylinder (master?) replaced but then clutch went again & mechanic said it would be the other cylinder, the same scenario as happened & he did, for my Schumacher. A friend who said he would do the replacement kept promising but put off & off & it's been standing at his place for two years. Just got it back now & have to decide whether to repair. Got smashed rear window now too. Incidentally, I spent a week in Italy last August & expected to see lots of Stilo's. I saw only two all week.
The Stilo electrics was Fiat's first venture in the CANBUS so there were/are a few issues but generally comparable to what everyone else was up to at the time.

My old JTD (with it's "Stilo" hat on) has had a problem with the Body Control module, which required a swap, since it prevented High Beam working (my colleague who used to fix Lynx helicopter weapons systems later said he "could have fixed it" ) and I've had to have the clocks repaired (stepper motors pack up, as stepper motors do)... but both issues (touch wood) have stayed fixed for a two-three years.

Engine maintenance (cam-belt and clutch/gearbox) will be the biggest hassle for an owner, given the accessibilty on a 5-cylinder... so I would say just make absolutely sure the belts have been done recently... since there must be a temptation to not do it, or only partially do it.. or (in the case of the clutch) just fix the master cylinder and bleed the system rather than replace the slave (inside the bell-housing?) and the clutch while you're there.

The various engine sensors, suspension, brakes and other parts still seem to be more or less available but I'm finding lights and bits of interior trim a bit tricky to find... so make sure your beast hasn't got any damage that might look easy to "swap for a new one" until you have to find that new one. I recently had to find new headlamp adjusters c/o the new MOT reg's and these are used by loads of cars, not just Fiat or Stilos... and that's true of several other parts. Some Bravo, 500 or Vauxhalls have the odd item, same as on yours.

Otherwise corrosion shouldn't be an issue and the beast is generally tough as old boots so nothing too severe to worry about, if it looks halfway decent/cared for.

Ralf S.
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Engine maintenance (cam-belt and clutch/gearbox) will be the biggest hassle for an owner, given the accessibilty on a 5-cylinder... so I would say just make absolutely sure the belts have been done recently... since there must be a temptation to not do it, or only partor Stilos...
Ralf S.

Sorry Ralf got to disagree re doing the timing belt :cool:, as its the easiest belt I've ever changed (well it was on mine). Okay the access isn't marvellous but not particularly less than on the 1.8 I had before, and for some bizarre reason (72 deg firing maybe) the cams don't spin as soon as the belt tension is released. Consequently you don't have to fight with a spanner in one hand holding the cam in position while you fit and tension the belt with the other. That is for those of use who refuse to buy cam locks :p.

The bit of the job which is a pig is the refitting of the Alternator belt afterwards which really was a barsteward.