Club PetrolBlog member Ben Carter is a fan of the mundane, the misunderstood and a certain social media marketplace. Here, in his PetrolBlog debut, he introduces Shednesday, by trying to tempt you into buying a Fiat Croma.
Wednesday is no longer the day for surfing or the humpday; it’s now the day you put on your waders to go deep-diving into the murky waters of cheap cars advertised on social media. Merry Shednesday.
Before continuing, brave reader, please note that neither I or PetrolBlog take any responsibility for the mechanical soundness of any of the following vehicles. We warned you.
You have a grand burning a hole in your pocket and want something practical for the kids, dogs or – ahem – dogging. What do you buy? Possibly a van or MPV with sliding doors? No. You need the Jeremy Irons-approved Fiat Croma.
To be clear we aren’t talking about the boxy Croma from the 1990s. No, this is a car from the noughties, produced up until 2010.
With a choice of engines, arguably the most desirable option is the 2.4-litre diesel. It transforms this would-be load-lugger into something more rapid. However that’s auto only (admittedly the Aisin-made auto box is meant to be bomb proof) and tres rare. For manual fun you would need to consider the 1.9 diesel, 2.2 petrol or 1.8 petrol.
Beyond engines, there are various specs to consider, but as Simon Pegg said, “skip to the end” and just look for Prestigio. It includes full leather and a panoramic roof among other accoutrements. As various advertisements would have us believe, you deserve it.
So where does one find such a beast for under a grand? I give you the Mr Fox’s Shop of automobile listing sites and the source of Shednesday: Facebook Marketplace.
There are two options. Both have a current MOT and are in full Prestigio spec. The differences are engine, body colour, leather colour (yes really), transmission and mileage (65,000 vs. 150,000).
Option 1: 2006 Fiat Croma (£700)
Fancy a post-lockdown trip to a town famous for its fishing heritage? You could do a lot worse than casting your net over this 2006 Fiat Croma Prestige [sic] with “70000 miles done”. The MOT runs out in less than a month, but it could be worth a punt at £700.
Option 2: 2006 Fiat Croma (£950)
Plymouth is your destination for this 2006 Fiat Croma Prestigo [sic]. Great colour/seats combo, with a further reminder of the joys of having two sunroofs. The mileage is listed as 135,000, but the MOT history suggests the car has done at least 150,000 miles. Worth checking, but with a recent service and the right spec, it could save you a trip to Grimsby.
Misguided or misunderstood? The rationale behind the second-generation Fiat Croma was pretty sound; blend elements of an estate car with an MPV to created a so-called ‘Comfort Wagon’. It’s just that the world didn’t want a comfortable wagon. It didn’t know it yet, but the world wanted a crossover.
Nissan unveiled the Qashqai Concept in 2004, a year before the launch of the Fiat Croma. The production version was unveiled in 2006, and the rest is history. The Qashqai inspired a legion of copycats, while the Croma inspired very little. Some radical thinking could have created a kind of CrossCroma, sparing us the pain of the Fiat Freemont.
At 4756mm in length, the Croma was significantly longer than the Qashqai, a car that was only fractionally taller. Interior space was excellent, most notably in the boot, where you’d find a storage bin below the floor. Note the raised gearlever – a subtle nod to the MPV formula.
The styling is forgettable, although the Alfa-style rear lights and the bulging arches create a little interest. The facelifted Nuova Croma looked more appealing, with Fiat using the nose of the Grande Punto and Bravo to good effect. UK buyers never saw the new version; the Croma was withdrawn in early 2007 following two years of terrible sales.
Which means the Fiat Croma is a rare and exclusive car in the UK. It’s a prime example of a manufacturer failing to read the room. Having said that, if non-car people had embraced the idea of a ‘Comfort Wagon’ instead of a crossover, the new car market would look far more appealing.