Fiat Tipo Review

It's cheap but is it cheerful?

Fiat Tipo Review Ireland
The new Fiat Tipo

Since the demise of the Fiat Bravo, Fiat has been missing from the popular C-segment. To fill this gaping hole in their portfolio, Fiat has gone back in time to resurrect the Tipo name and launch a new compact car trio: say hello to the new Fiat Tipo estate, saloon and hatchback.

Fiat is not trying to evoke nostalgia for 1980’s hatchbacks with retro design cues and PR spiel about resurrecting a classic. The 2017 Fiat Tipo is designed to be a budget compact car, that will give buyers ‘more for less’.

To that end, Fiat are launching the new Tipo in Ireland at superbly good value pricing. The saloon starts at just €16,745, the hatchback at €17,995, and the estate (station wagon) at €19,245.

It screams bargain. But is it just too good to be true?

Fiat Tipo Review Ireland
The Fiat Tipo is available from just €16,745

The Fiat Tipo is certainly very presentable from the outside. There is nothing of the flamboyant Italian about it, which is a little disappointing if you like that sort of thing, but it has a reassuringly steady, sensible design that will appeal to the masses. You won’t stand out but you could do far worse.

The cost saving measures to bring this car to market at such low pricing are revealed a little more when you get inside. The design makes it easy to interact with the controls and switches, but there is an abundance of cheap, dull-looking plastic. There is some more shiny material on the inside of the doors, but that’s not really a success either. Altogether it’s more functional than plush. A 5” Uconnect touchscreen with Bluetooth connection and navigation sits in the centre of the dash but it is a bit on the small side.

The Tipo redeems itself being generously sized for its stature. The rear legroom is very good for this class and though the middle seat is not the most comfortable place to sit, the legroom is not impinged by any clumsy high transmission tunnel, and headroom is also very good all round. The boot is 440 litres in the hatch, 520 litres in the saloon and 550 litres in the estate model, all large volumes for this class of car.

Fiat Tipo Review Ireland
The interior of the new Fiat Tipo

The engine range is also quite extensive. The petrol Tipo range comprises of a 95hp 1.4-litre, a 120hp 1.4-litre turbo and the 1.6-litre 110hp ‘e-TorQ’ that comes with an automatic gearbox. There are two turbo diesel engines for new Tipo: a 95hp 1.3-litre and a 120hp 1.6-litre.

My test car had the 1.6-litre diesel with 120hp and a 6 speed manual gearbox. It’s got bags of power and there’s always more in reserve so even in sixth gear on the motorway a squeeze of the throttle yields quick acceleration without having to drop a gear. Motor tax is €180 per year while this engine will return a claimed 76.3mpg in the estate version. There is a coarse edge to the engine note under hard acceleration and when taking off in first and second gear, but once cruising noise is not an issue.

The Tipo holds the road well. The steering is too light for the car to be hugely engaging to drive but there is enough resistance to cover ground quickly and safely, and it doesn’t lean too much in the corners. Refinement on the motorway is good: road and wind noise are kept to a minimum.  Ride comfort is less impressive because there is a constant little quiver underneath you even when the road ahead looks smooth.

Fiat Tipo Review Ireland
The Fiat Tipo doesn’t hide its budget beginnings, but it’s impossible to ignore if you are looking for a compact car

Available in three trim levels, Pop, Easy and Lounge, entry level cars come with air con, Bluetooth, and four electric windows, while Easy trim adds 16” alloys, 5” Uconnect touchscreen, cruise control, front fog lights and rear parking sensors. As an introductory offer, Fiat Ireland are offering the Easy trim cars at the same price as the Pop version.

The Fiat Tipo lacks the polish of more expensive rivals, never really shaking off the budget beginnings, but it’s not trying to be anything other than a sensible car. Aspirational types should look elsewhere, but the high standard spec, sub-€20,000 pricing and generous interior space makes the Fiat Tipo impossible to ignore if you are looking for a compact car that’s good value for money.

Model tested: Fiat Tipo Station Wagon Lounge 1.6 120hp
Price: 
€23,495 (Range starts €16,745)
Engine:
1.6-litre turbo diesel
Power: 120hp
0-100km/h:  
10.1 seconds
Economy: 
76.3mpg
CO2 emissions:  
98g/km
Motor tax:
€180 per year

Caroline Kidd

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