FACT - the new Croma is the best car Fiat has made.
Fact - the 1.9 JTD diesel engine in the Croma is Fiat's own and one of the best around.
Fact - as family cars go, the Croma is one of the most adaptable on the market.
Fact - a single styling blunder ruins the driving experience.
The Croma has a ridiculously shaped centre armrest that inhibits easy use of the handbrake. In typical Italian fashion, Fiat has created a top class car then spoiled it with a simple oversight.
Whoever dreamt up the shape of the armrest needs shooting. Either it is too big or the handbrake too short but the combination is such that it is impossible to use the lever with any degree of comfort or control.
It is a terrible piece of the design in what is otherwise a totally competent vehicle.
At £17,995 the mid-range Croma Eleganza is a large five seater that bridges the gap between estate and saloon with aplomb.
Roomy and comfortable throughout and with plenty of glass - there are two sunroofs - the cabin is bright and airy, just what a family car should be.
The amount of interior space is almost as much as in a people mover and there are no compromises in terms of leg or head room in the rear.
Overall luggage space is good as well but the split floor arrangement in the Croma's boot means that it is not as user friendly as a conventional estate.
However, the set up does have its advantages when it comes to keeping objects out of sight or if wet or dirty clothing needs to be kept separate from the rest of your luggage.
Fold down the rear seats and the Croma becomes much more estate-like with a maximum cargo capacity of almost 60 cubic feet - nearly as much as the king size Volvo V70.
Mod cons on the Croma include cruise and climate control with airbag protection front and rear.
It is up with the best of the new breed of lifestyle vehicles in terms of equipment but the Croma can go a step better than most thanks to its diesel engine - in this case a high output version of the 1.9-litre JTD unit developing 150bhp.
The output is 30bhp more than the standard 1.9 JTD engine - also available in the Croma for £1,000 less - and the difference in performance is marked.
Top speed is a reported 131mph compared to 121, 0 to 62 acceleration is 9.6 seconds as opposed to 11.3 but average fuel consumption is the same as the lower output engine at 46.3mpg.
As diesels go it is definitely lively and although the Croma is not as quiet in the cabin as some of its contemporaries, there is little to criticise.
It is more of a rumble in the distance than the clatter and chatter of diesels of old and in the cruise it is hardly a bother - although there is wind noise at motorway speeds.
That is down to the Croma being a big car with a lot of metal at the front. It may look imposing but proves looks aren't everything.
As all-rounders go the Croma is up with the best. Its ride and handling may not be as sharp as the likes of the Ford Mondeo or the Mazda6 but realistically - with the exception of the armrest in the front - it has few shortcomings.
Fiat is entering a new phase in terms of style and build quality and the Croma proves that the new generation of Italian models definitely means business.
Fiat Croma 1.9 MultiJet Eleganza 5dr
Mechanical: 150bhp, 1,910cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6spd manual gearbox
Max speed: 131mph
0-62mph: 9.6 secs
Combined mpg: 46.3
Insurance group: 12
CO2 emissions: 161g/km
BiK rating: 19%
Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles; 3yrs paint; 8yrs anti-rust