£13,195 - £19,195 Price range
44 - 83 MPG
The spacious and relatively economical Fiat Tipo five-door hatchback marks the Italian brand’s return to the small family car market where it faces stiff competition from the likes of the SEAT Ibiza and Kia Cee’d.
The Tipo is available with a choice of two petrol and two diesel engines in five different power outputs. The entry-level 1.3-litre diesel model comes with a five-speed manual gearbox while larger engines benefit from a six-speed manual. A six-speed automatic gearbox is offered on 1.6-litre petrol and diesel cars and Fiat has announced a dual-clutch version will be available in the near future.
Its interior is a departure from the retro-inspired Fiat 500 range and focuses instead on basic functionality and occupant comfort. The rear seats have an impressive amount of legroom and the tall rear roofline provides decent headroom. As a result, three six-foot tall passengers can sit in the back for shorter journeys. Standard equipment on entry-level cars might disappoint some customers although a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and sat nav is available on higher-spec models.
The 440-litre boot is more spacious than those in the Nissan Pulsar (350 litres) and Renault Megane (384 litres) but lags behind the Honda Civic’s capacious 478-litre load bay. The rear seat bases can be flipped forward allowing the seat backs to be folded completely flat and the lack of discernible load lip makes loading heavy or bulky items easy, too.
If this compact hatchback sounds like your ideal new car, use our Fiat Tipo colours guide to pick the perfect paint shade.
Customers expecting a funky, retro-styled interior might be disappointed by the Tipo’s cabin. The infotainment screen and instrument binnacle float on a sea of boring black plastic and although the doors are trimmed in an Alcantara-type fabric there’s a wealth of scratchy parts that make the Tipo feel cheaper than some rivals. Rivals such as the Hyundai i30 have better materials and superior build quality.
Neither the pedals nor the steering wheel are located directly ahead of the driver and this awkward seating position, combined with firm seats and a lack of lumbar support, makes the Tipo fairly uncomfortable on long journeys, especially for tall drivers.
Rear visibility is hampered by the slim rear windscreen and the thick pillars behind the passenger doors – this problem is worsened by the rear headrests that extend significantly above the parcel shelf, further blocking the view behind. The tall roof and thin A-pillars mean that forward visibility, however, is good.
Fiat Tipo passenger space
The Tipo’s tall roofline ensures that passenger space in the rear seats is maximised. Fiat says the Tipo can comfortably seat three six-foot tall passengers in the rear and two equally tall occupants in the front.
Fiat Tipo boot space
The already capacious 440-litre boot can be extended by lifting the rear seat bases and folding the seat backs completely flat. For even bigger loads bays the Skoda Octavia, and the surprisingly spacious Honda Civic are worth a look. The boot opening is wide and the lack of load lip makes it easy to slide heavy luggage on board.
Fiat has engineered a folding mechanism within the boot floor that allows it to be lifted and locked at 40-degree angle, while plastic covers at the sides can be removed to increase the available space behind the rear wheels. The roller-blind can be stored beneath the boot floor when not in use.
Fiat has reportedly focused on reducing the effect of external noise, vibration and ride harshness throughout the Tipo’s development – the result is a car that can cruise comfortably on motorways with minimal disturbance from rough roads or unruly wind noise.
It might not be as fun to drive as a Ford Focus nor as refined as a Vauxhall Astra but, for a significantly cheaper family hatchback the Tipo has decent levels of grip and corners without lots of body roll. The power steering feels over-assisted and numb, however, and little feedback is transmitted through the steering wheel.
The ride is reasonably comfortable but harsh bumps can often be jarring and the stiff suspension results in a car that always feels slightly unsettled. This is especially obvious on pitted or poorly maintained roads.
The Tipo is available with four different engines in five power outputs. Two diesels come in 1.3 and 1.6-litre capacities while petrol-powered models come with either a 1.4 or 1.6-litre engine. Although the diesels cater for the more cost-conscious buyer thanks to better fuel economy, the petrol units are both more refined and make the car far more involving to drive.
Fiat Tipo diesel engines
The 1.3-litre diesel engine produces 95hp, just enough to accelerate the five-door Tipo from rest to 62mph in a sluggish 12 seconds. This engine has to work hard at all times and is less refined as a result – not only is it loud around town but it drones at motorway speeds. These problems are compounded by the five-speed gearbox that feels loose and old-fashioned. This engine is, however, fairly economical and can return a claimed 76mpg – CO2 emissions of 99g/km are also fairly impressive.
The 1.6-litre diesel is noticeably more refined than the entry-level 1.3. Not only is it quieter but it feels less agricultural thanks, in part, to a slicker six-speed manual gearbox. Performance is improved thanks to a 120hp power output and 1.6-litre diesel models can sprint to 62mph from rest in 10.1 seconds. Fuel economy and CO2 emissions are almost identical to the smaller 1.3-litre diesel (76mpg and 98g/km respectively) but the significantly more refined 1.6-litre unit is the one we’d recommend.
Fiat Tipo petrol engines
The 1.4-litre petrol engine in both 95hp and turbocharged 120hp forms is more fun to drive and quieter, but it loses out in terms of fuel economy and CO2 emissions. The 95hp model is capable of returning 50mpg and emitting 132g/km of CO2 and will cost you £130 per year to tax. The 120hp model costs the same and can return a comparable 47mpg. This engine allows the Tipo to sprint to 62mph from rest in 9.6 seconds – 2.5 seconds faster than a cheaper 95hp car.
The 1.6-litre non-turbo model with 110hp caters for drivers looking for a petrol-powered car with an automatic gearbox. This engine, however, is not only less powerful than the 1.4-litre model but CO2 emissions of 147g/km mean that it’ll cost you £15 more per year tax. Fuel economy also takes a hit – cars fitted with this engine can only manage a claimed 45mpg.
The Tipo hasn’t yet been tested by Euro NCAP but the rest of the Fiat range has received decent test scores in the past. The Tipo is fitted with six airbags, electronic stability control and tyre-pressure-monitoring systems as standard and the addition of autonomous city braking should help it score relatively highly but we’ll have to wait for official test result to find out.
There are three trim levels on offer – Pop, Easy and Lounge – and standard equipment levels are fair, if not class-leading.
Fiat Tipo Pop
In entry-level Pop trim, the Tipo comes with an MP3, USB and AUX compatible infotainment system with a 3.5-inch display, air conditioning and electric front windows. Electrically adjustable door mirrors with a heating function are also fitted as standard.
Fiat Tipo Easy
Easy trim takes the standard Pop specification and adds larger 16-inch steel wheels, chrome exterior trim pieces, LED daytime running lights and an upgraded infotainment system with Bluetooth compatibility, voice activation, and a larger five-inch touchscreen display. The multifunction steering wheel boasts leather trim as standard, too.
Fiat Tipo Lounge
Upgrade to top-of-the-range Lounge trim and the Tipo comes fitted with 16-inch alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, cruise control, automatic climate control, fog lights and an infotainment system with a larger seven-inch display.
The Tipo does a good job of blending cheap running costs with impressive practicality and a reasonably refined ride in a distinctive and sharply-styled package. The selection of engines on offer might be sparing, but two efficient diesels and a number of rev-happy petrols should mean there’s a Tipo to suit the needs of most potential customers.