Gareth Butterfield tests the Fiat Tipo
THIS is the new Fiat Tipo. Handsome, isn’t it? It’s a bit of a bargain, too, on the face of it. It’s possible to buy a Tipo for less than £14,000 and, with a bit of imagination, you could compare it to a Ford Focus. That makes it seem very cheap indeed.
It’s not as if they’re short on spec, either. Even the base model comes with a TFT infotainment screen with Apple Car Play and Android Auto, Autonomous Emergency Braking, air-conditioning and cruise control.
The boot is huge, with 440 litres, rear space is a tad short on head-room, but legroom is great and it drives pretty well, too with soft suspension and a comfortable ride.
The Tipo name is something we’d be forgiven for having forgotten in the UK, as Fiat has been attaching names like “Bravo” and “Stilo” to its hatchbacks over the last few years, but it’s come back in time to grace this cheap and cheerful newcomer and it’s nice to see it.
Pick of the large selection of engines is the 120bhp 1.4-litre petrol ’T-jet’ turbo, which sits alongside a lower-powered version and a couple of diesels.
The better diesel engine is the 1.6-litre 120bhp MultiJet diesel, but avoid the 1.3-litre 94bhp diesel unless you really want your emissions to dip below the magic 100g/km barrier.
Handling is designed for comfort rather than speed. If you want excitement, save up for a Ford Focus. But the Fiat does a reasonable job of coping with corners, despite rather lifeless steering.
Another fly in the ointment is the rather dreary interior. At this price I can forgive a few cheap plastics here and there, but does it have to look so dull? Other Fiats such as the 500X have a bit of personality, so it’s a shame the Tipo doesn’t share this outlook. Black plastic dominates and the infotainment screen, as good as it is, is too small at just seven inches.
The news elsewhere is good though. The engines are frugal, the driving seat is comfortable and it’s easy to get a good driving position.
I also like the fact it undercuts cars on price that it actually performs better than in some respects.
Obviously, it’s an inferior car to the likes of Ford’s Focus or Volkswagen’s Golf, but it’s so much cheaper. Interestingly, though, it’s also cheaper than the Toyota Auris – and I honestly think I’d pick the Fiat.
It’s price is by far its trump card and, while it doesn’t do enough to over-ride all its shortcomings, it does make it a great, fuss-free workhorse for people who like a bargain.
Cars like this, which offer a lot for very little, are a rare breed nowadays. But I’m glad the likes of Fiat’s Tipo are still propping up their end of the market. It’s a decent car.