Expert Reviews

First drive: Fiat Tipo

Tuesday 04 October 2016

First drive: Fiat Tipo

Effectively, everything on the Tipo is new aside from the name, which previously adorned one of the hatchbacks Fiat produced back in the ‘80s and ‘90s.

This all-new car has been built to allow the Italian manufacturer to compete against cars like the Kia Cee’d and Hyundai i30 at the more affordable end of the hatchback market. Don’t expect much in the way of extravagance on the Tipo; this is a car that has been designed to be simple, basic and no-nonsense, while still maintaining a dab of Italian flair.

Looks & Image

Don’t let the Tipo’s £12,995 asking price fool you into thinking the styling department has cut corners when it comes to the car’s design. In reality, it’s quite a handsome car, with its hexagonal grille, curvaceous bonnet and wrap-around headlights adding to the Tipo’s visual appeal.

Opening the door will reveal an interior that has been constructed from a range of parts familiar to other vehicles in the Fiat-Chrysler group’s line-up. The five-inch touchscreen that appears on higher-specification Tipos is the same as that found in the Fiat 500. The steering wheel, on the other hand, is identical to the Jeep Renegade’s.

While the shared parts might give the impression of a cabin that feels tacky, in reality it’s not a bad place to be. It feels sturdy enough, and its only let down is the fact that it’s a bit dark.

Space & Practicality

Thanks to its large, 440-litre boot, the Tipo is a decently practical car, and competitive in its market segment. A Honda Civic or a Peugeot might offer slightly more boot capacity than the Fiat, but it still manages to make a Volkswagen Golf or a Ford Focus look short on space.

Passengers won’t be left wanting when it comes to interior space, either. There is plenty of head- and legroom, while a multitude of storage bins and cubbies make storing those random odds and ends easy.

Behind the Wheel

The Tipo makes for a more than competent long-distance cruiser. Its supple suspension set up manages to deal with lumps and bumps in the road with aplomb, while the 1.6-litre diesel engines offer a decent level of grunt and refinement.

That said, the Tipo isn’t the most exciting car in world to drive. The steering lacks feedback, and there is a significant amount of play as well, which makes judging small corrections a tad difficult. However, around town the steering set up is light enough to make low-speed manoeuvers a breeze, and there is plenty of visibility out of the cabin.

Equipped with one of the diesel engines that will likely be the best-sellers in the Tipo range, it is also quite an economical car. The 118bhp engine paired with a manual gearbox returns a claimed consumption figure of 76.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 99g/km. Specifying the Elite version improves this to, in a bid to make the specification level appeal more as a company fleet car.

If efficiency isn’t the be-all and end-all, however, there are a couple of decent petrol engines to choose from, too. The standard engine is the 1.4-litre petrol, which produces 94bhp, although there is also the option of a 1.6-litre with 108bhp, or a 1.4-litre turbocharged engine that makes 118bhp. There is also a 1.3-litre diesel, but its marginal gains in efficiency don’t make up for its significantly lower power output of just 94bhp.

Value for Money

While the £12,995 starting price might sound appealing, it doesn’t get you a huge amount of kit. For this price, you’ll get a Tipo that features manual air-conditioning, a 94bhp 1.4-litre petrol engine and 15-inch wheels with plastic hub caps.

For £1,000 more, you can get your hands on a Tipo in Easy Plus specification. This adds 16-inch alloys, a wider choice of engines and the five-inch Uconnect touchscreen infotainment system.

Topping the Tipo range is the Lounge trim level, which is an additional £1,000 on top of the asking price for the Easy Plus model. On this model, you gain satellite navigation, climate control, 17-inch alloys and a rear-view camera to name a few standard features. Not bad for £14,995.

Who would buy one ?

The Fiat Tipo is likely to appeal to anyone in the market for a comfortable, practical and reasonably-priced family hatch. You could even go so far as to say that the Tipo is perfectly suited to family life.

Facts at a Glance

Model: Fiat Tipo Lounge 1.6 MultiJet II 120 (£19,499)

Engine: 1.6-litre turbocharged diesel producing 118bhp and 236lb/ft of torque

Transmission: Six-speed manual, driving front wheels

Performance: Top speed 124mph, 0-62mph in 9.8 seconds

Economy: 76.3mpg

Emissions: 98g/km

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