It's just like the good old days. There's a Fiat Regata ES for sale on Auto Trader. It's a pre-facelift version in beige. A beige Fiat Regata – where do we sign?
First to see will buy. Must be seen. Try finding another one. Rare opportunity. Etc, etc.
The Fiat Regata was unveiled in a blaze of mediocrity at the 1983 Frankfurt Motor Show. A three-box version of the Fiat hatchback known as Ritmo or Strada, depending on where you lived. It replaced the Mirafiori as Fiat's Cortina rival, switching from rear- to front-wheel drive in the process.
Only it wasn't a Cortina rival. Ford has moved on, replacing the Cortina with the controversial Sierra. Not that the Regata had many direct rivals. It sat somewhere between the Ford Orion and the Sierra, but was significantly smaller than the ageing Argenta.
Key to the Regata's segment-busting credentials was its massive boot, which was larger than the Ford Granada's. Given the fact that, in basic terms, the Regata was just a Strada with a box bolted to the back, Fiat did a fine job of the styling. The Regata is definitely a saloon to file under ‘Good Shatchback’.
At launch, prices ranged from around £5,000 to £6,500, which pitched the Fiat Regata at the bottom end of the market. There were five versions in the UK: 70 Comfort, 70 ES Comfort, 85 Comfort, 85 Super & Super automatic, and 100 Super. The number was used to denote the power output.
Contemporary reviews likened the 100 Super to the 131 Supermirafiori, praising the 1.6-litre twin-cam engine, which offered the performance of a 2.0-litre unit. Others preferred the more economical 1.3-litre engine which could match a 1.6-litre unit when the Regata was driven in an Italian manner.
‘Shapes the future’
In many ways, the range hero was the Regata ES. ‘ES’ was short for an Energy Saving package, which included Fiat's unique Citymatic start-stop system. This would cut off the engine when the car was stationary and with the clutch disengaged. Fiat claimed the system could improve fuel economy by up to 10 per cent in congested traffic.
It also featured a clever Digiplex electronic ignition, which selected the most effective timing for fuel efficiency. Further ‘Energy Saving’ measures included a dashboard econometer, flush wheel trims, wind deflectors on the front windows and a rear spoiler.
“The Regata ES shapes the future in fuel economy,” said Fiat with a huge dollop of optimism. If only the fuel efficiency conundrum could be solved using wheel trims and wind deflectors.
Choosing the ES Comfort over the standard Comfort model resulted in a modest drop in performance in the name of extra economy. That said, few Regata drivers would have noticed the additional 0.2 seconds it took to reach 60mph.
More significantly, the ES Comfort could return a claimed 54.3mpg – an improvement of around 4mpg over the standard Comfort model. Enough to justify the additional £500? Well, you did get a digital clock, econometer and gear change indicator.
Motor reviewed the Fiat Regata 70 ES Comfort in 1985. In conclusion, it said: “If you're expecting a quantum leap forward in fuel efficiency, the Regata ES will disappoint.
“Citymatic works well, although for most owners it is unlikely to offer tangible savings at the pumps – but then the eager engine doesn't exactly encourage fuel-saving plodding. The Regata ES is a roomy, practical and likeable family middleweight with a sensible price tag to boot.
“The only trouble is that the ordinary 70 Comfort costs £500 less...”
Today, the Fiat Regata 70 ES Comfort is worth remembering as an example of a fuel-saving car before fuel-saving was hip and trendy. An eco warrior without a diesel or electrified engine. A tip of the hat to the environment with one eye on your wallet. Who wouldn't want an Italian three-box saloon with a Citymatic button and beige paint?
The example for sale on Auto Trader is described as needing attention to the paintwork and door seals. On the plus side, the engine is in “perfect condition”, presumably because the five previous were more interested in watching the econometer than getting the best out of the eager 1.3-litre engine.
It's yours for £2,499. Try finding another beige Regata ES. While you're at it, try finding a replacement rear spoiler and a pair of wind deflectors.
Fiat Regata 70 ES Comfort figures
- Engine: 1,29cc
- Performance: 65bhp @ 5,800rpm
- Torque: 74lb ft @ 2,900rpm
- Top speed: 96mph
- 0-60mph: 13.7 seconds
- Fuel economy: 54.3mpg
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