The Stilo's styling received mixed reviews, with many journalists and enthusiasts criticising it as being too bland and too German looking, as the styling of the preceding Bravo and Brava had been criticised for being too "Italian". Critics also attacked the car's excessive weight and its semi independent rear torsion beam suspension / twist-beam rear suspension, however, this was the same system used by the market leading Volkswagen Golf of the time.
Some saw the torsion beam as a step backwards from the acclaimed fully independent rear suspension used in the Bravo/Brava and Fiat Coupe. However, when pushed the Stilo resists understeer, although arguably its soft spring and damper rates dull the experience.
The engine range, particularly the 1.2 litre petrol, was also generally criticised for being underpowered. However the 1.6 version is the last iteration of the old Fiat 128 SOHC engine which provided strong performance. The car's fuel economy was also seen as poor for its class, a result of the car's weight. Another point of criticism was the Selespeed gearbox fitted to the Abarth version, this was seen as too slow in its reactions and particularly inappropriate for this high powered version. Nevertheless, the car won praise for its high levels of grip (aided by the unusually wide tires) and its brakes.
In the United Kingdom, different trim levels available were: Active, Active Aircon, Blue, Dynamic, Sporting, Abarth, GT, Prestigio, Xbox limited edition, Michael Schumacher and the Schumacher GP, with general modifications by British car specialists, Prodrive.
The Stilo was the second car worldwide to use the TRW Column-Drive Electric Power Assisted Steering (EPS) technology after the second generation Fiat Punto, later introduced on the 2003 Nissan Micra and Renault Mégane. As the model range aged, the range of available options was reduced.
The Stilo was originally offered in some markets with a radar assisted cruise control option; it included sensors in the front bumper and rear of the car to adjust the speed of the car according to other vehicles' speed. This was soon[when?] dropped as it became apparent that interference was creating undesired results.
A keyless entry, named 'Easy Go', push button start, similar in function to Citroën's, Mercedes-Benz's and BMW Mini's systems, was also an available option. For MY2006 in September 2005, the Stilo was updated with a new front grille, different seat fabric, a relocation of the electric mirror controls from the window control console to just behind the gear stick.
The entry models also had the centre arm rest removed (which when in the downward position prevented comfortable use of the handbrake as in the Audi A3) and the deletion of the rear air vent.
The Stilo was ultimately a sales disappointment. An extensive advertising campaign using Formula 1 stars Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello did little to aid the car's sales. In October 2013, The Economist placed the Stilo into the report on Europe's Biggest Loss Making Cars. 
In 2004, the 1242 cc engine was dropped in favour of the Punto's 1.4 L unit, increasing the car's power to 95 bhp (71 kW), again combined with the six-speed gearbox. Also, the tail lights were altered, and the Abarth version gained a manual gearbox, instead of the Selespeed.
80 PS (59 kW; 79 hp)–170 PS (125 kW; 168 hp)
170–225 km/h (106–134 mph)
0–100 km/h: 13.8 - 8.5 seconds
The original engine and gearbox combinations were:
1242 cc DOHC 16-valve engine that also powered the Punto and Lancia Ypsilon, with an output of 80 PS (59 kW; 79 hp) combined with a six-speed manual gearbox
103 PS (76 kW; 102 hp) 1.6 L with a five-speed manual gearbox (also available with a six-speed manual gearbox, but these are quite rare)[vague]
133 PS (98 kW; 131 hp) 1.8 L, again with a five-speed manual gearbox
170 PS (125 kW; 168 hp) five-cylinder, 2.4 L engine, combined with Fiat's Selespeed five-speed semi automatic gearbox, similar to the gearbox used on the Alfa Romeo 147 and Alfa Romeo 156
1.9 JTD unit with 80 PS (59 kW; 79 hp) or 115 PS (85 kW; 113 hp)
8-valve, 1.9 MultiJet unit with 101 PS (74 kW; 100 hp) or 120 PS (88 kW; 118 hp)
A Group N version of the car was developed by Abarth to compete in the single make trophy called Trofeo Stilo Abarth, held in Italy from 2002 to 2005. The car was revealed in November 2001, at the Bologna Motor Show.
It was derived from the Stilo 1.8 16v version, with the engine power increased from 133 bhp (99 kW; 135 PS) to 157 bhp (117 kW; 159 PS), and from the 2003 season to 180 bhp (134 kW; 182 PS). A similar competition was held in the United Kingdom from 2004 to 2005, called the Fiat Stilo Rally Cup.
Only available in the five door hatchback version, the Stilo was launched in South America in 2003, being assembled in Brazil. The engines were the Family I GM engines 1.8 L with eight valve (103 hp) and 16 valve (122 hp) versions, and a 2.4 twenty valve version (170 hp) for the Abarth model as well. For export, the chosen engines were the Italian made 1.8 16v VIS engine with 133 hp (99 kW) and the 1.9 JTD Diesel of 115 hp (86 kW) specially for Argentina, Uruguay and Chile. (Chile did not get the JTD, but was the only country in the region to receive the Italian three door version, and the MultiWagon version.)
A Schumacher special edition of the Stilo was added in 2004 and lasted until 2006; contrary to the European version, which was based on the three door version and equipped with the 2.4 twenty valve engine, the Brazilian was only available with five doors and the Family I GM 1.8 16v engine with 122 hp (91 kW). In 2006, the Stilo gained a GM sourced flexible engine capable of using petrol and ethanol (1.8 8v with 110 hp (82 kW) on petrol and 114 hp (85 kW) with ethanol) and the 1.8 16v engine was retired.
In the Americas, the Stilo was partially replaced by the new Bravo in the end of 2010, when it will be built in Brazil; from 2007 on the Italian import is available in Chile and Venezuela.
Fiat Automóveis introduced a facelifted Stilo in the end of January 2008, in which the Dualogic manual robotized gearbox was released, being available to every version with the 1.8 8v Flex engine, which now produces 112 PS (82 kW; 110 hp) (petrol) or 114 PS (84 kW; 112 hp) when using ethanol as fuel. The car also got minor cosmetic changes to front grille, bonnet, side bumpers and to the taillights, in order to end its production cycle, which is expected to happen in 2010.
For the MY2009, Fiat withdrew the Abarth version from the Brazilian market; the version wasn't available in other markets anymore.
For the MY2010, Fiat do Brasil launched a "basic features" versión called Attractive, still with the 1.8 8v Flex engine. This version marks the confirmation that the new Bravo is coming, with the Stilo Attractive as the only version.
In March 2010, Brazil's Justice Ministry fined Fiat three million Reais (US$ 1.7 million) for failing to recall its Stilo without ABS brakes to fix a rear wheel problem that may have caused thirty accidents and eight deaths. Fiat denied any wrongdoing, saying that the rear wheel problem was not the cause of the accidents, but rather caused by them.
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