Fiat Tipo Review
The spacious, 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.
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What's not so good
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The Fiat 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.
The Tipo is a reasonably priced car that needs more than that to be competitive in this end of the market
The Fiat 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.
The bland cabin isn’t helped by the forgettable driving experience – the Fiat Tipo is about average in a class that has some highly accomplished rivals such as the comfortable Renault Megane and sporty Vauxhall Astra.
The 1.6-litre diesel is the way to go, providing a decent turn of speed and reasonable running costs
The Fiat 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.
The 1.3-litre diesel engine produces 95hp, just enough to accelerate the five-door Fiat 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.
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. 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 with CO2 emissions of 147g/km. Fuel economy also takes a hit – cars fitted with this engine can only manage a claimed 45mpg.
Fiat has focused on reducing the effect of external noise, vibration and ride harshness throughout the Fiat 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.
Customers expecting a funky, retro-styled interior might be disappointed by the Fiat Tipo’s cabin.