Fiat Tipo tip-top for space and value
PUBLISHED: 12:31 03 February 2017
Fiat has brought back the Tipo, in hatchback and estate guise, with class-leading space, lots of kit and good pricing making it an attractive value package, says motoring editor Andy Russell.
Fiat is into motoring nostalgia – having reinvented the 500 city car, the 124 Spider sports car has been reborn to mark the original one’s 50th anniversary. They’re Fiat’s fun side but it has revived the functional side too by bringing back the Tipo.
First launched in 1988, it won European Car of the Year the following year. It was roomy, drove well but, more importantly, was an early adopter of platform-sharing with Lancia and Alfa Romeo and, made from galvanised steel, heralded a new era of non-rusting Fiats.
Before those old enough to remember the original tub-like Tipo look to the sky in despair, I think it made enough of an impact to deserve a second chance.
Looks and image
With crossovers and SUVs now making much of the running, it’s refreshing to see a manufacturer bring back an honest, good-value family hatchback and Station Wagon estate.
Starting at £13,345 – supermini money compared to similar-sized rivals - and boasting a good spec, the new Tipo is as rounded and stylish as its predecessor was square and boxy.
Under the bonnet
Tried-and-tested engines see petrol manual 95hp 1.4 and 120hp 1.4-litre turbo units along with a 110hp 1.6-litre automatic with turbo diesel 95hp 1.3 and 120hp 1.6-litre units, the latter also in auto guise.
The bigger turbo diesel punches above it weight, feeling stronger than a 1.6. It’s not the most refined diesel, gruff and grumbling worked hard, but pulls urgently from 1,500rpm so there’s little need.
It’s not the most economical either – 45 to 50mpg is well shy of the claimed 76.3.
How it drives
The ride is firm, so you do notice what’s going on beneath the wheels, but supple enough to soak up the worst defects and soft seats help cushion passengers too.
The Tipo sits securely on the road and is quite entertaining through the twists and turns with good grip and not a lot of body roll.
It goes where it’s pointed, with a city mode to make the steering extra light for parking, but there’s not a lot of feel at speed.
Space and practicality
If you don’t need an estate, you won’t feel short-changed with the hatchback with class-leading rear legroom so six-footers won’t feel the squeeze and headroom will suffice for all but budding basketball players.
The flat-sided, deep 440-litre boot is also best in class but the downside is a high load sill and, unlike the estate, there’s no two-level load floor. Nor can you create a long, uninterrupted load floor with 60/40 rear seat backs that don’t fold completely flat and sit a couple of inches proud of the boot floor.
At the wheel
The fascia is more functional than fancy, even with brightwork highlights, but the five-inch infotainment screen is no bigger than some smartphones but at least it’s sits high up.
Apart from the top of the dashboard, hard plastics abound but they should be hard-wearing and childproof.
I find the driving position in Italian cars tricky – there’s never quite enough reach adjustment for the steering wheel if you have short arms – but eventually found a happy compromise.
Three trim levels are offered with a £1,000 step between each while the Station Wagon also costs £1,000 more than the hatchback.
Entry-level Comfort gets air conditioning, remote locking, DAB radio with Bluetooth, USB port and jackpoint and steering wheel controls, height-adjustable driver’s seat, electric front windows and mirrors and six airbags.
Mid-range Easy Plus adds 16in alloy wheels, infotainment touchscreen, LED running lights, cruise control, rear parking sensors and electric back windows.
Range-topping Lounge gains 17in alloys, chrome styling embellishments, satellite navigation, reversing camera, auto wipers, lights and self-dipping rear-view mirror, automatic climate control and electric driver’s seat lumbar support
The new Tipo is a traditional step up for owners who need a bigger car for a growing family but don’t want a crossover or compact MPV. It’s not flash but does everything you ask of it… and at a nice price.
TECH and SPEC
Price: Fiat Tipo hatchback 1.6 MultiJet 120hp diesel £18,345 (range from £13,345)
Engine: 1,598cc, 120hp, four-cylinder turbo diesel
Performance: 0-62mph 9.8 seconds; top speed 124mph
MPG: Urban 64.2; extra urban 85.6; combined 76.3
CO2 emissions: 98g/km
Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 19%
Insurance group: 15 (out of 50)
Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles
Will it fit in the garage? L 4,368mm; W (excluding door mirrors) 1,792mm; H 1,495mm