Fiat Tipo 1.6 Multijet review

Fiat has leaned heavily to the value for money and cabin and boot space side of the equation that car makers have to balance for this car which brings back the Tipo name, Italian for Type, after 20 years. For the sportier side of Fiat's soul see the new 124 Spider. The Tipo effectively delivers a Volkswagen Golf size car but for VW Polo prices. The Tipo drives well enough to rival cars like the Kia Cee'd, Hyundai i30 and Skoda Rapid Spaceback.

Review by Russell Bray

PERFORMANCE

Fiat's new Tipo is available with a choice of three petrol engines and two turbo diesels. The petrol engines produce 94bhp or in turbo form 118bhp. There's also a 108bhp 1.6 litre teamed with an automatic gearbox. Diesel engines are the 94bhp 1.3 litre Multijet or the 118bhp 1.6 litre Multijet as tested here. It's the best engine in the line-up, as well as the most expensive, and the one Fiat chose for this initial press drive. Its 118bhp arrives at 3,750rpm but there is a hefty 236 lbs ft of torque to keep the pot boiling from just 1,750rpm. With 1,395kg kerbweight to haul the Tipo manages rest to 62mph in 9.8 seconds and a top speed of 124mph. Mid-range it feels quite peppy if you stir the gearbox enough. You can also order the engine with a DCT automatic gearbox.

HANDLING

Fiat's new Tipo is more about space, practicality and comfort – skills not frills says Fiat - than hooning round corners, but the car is well set up and more than capable. While not as nimble as Vauxhall's impressive new Astra, it won't put a grim expression on your face when a road turns twisty. The suspension isn't bone jarring and on mixed roads in North Wales it rode irregularities well. The chunky three-spoke steering wheel was pleasant to use and there was enough feedback of tyre grip for confidence. The Tipo delivers pleasantly simple motoring rather gadgets and buttons you might only use a few times out of curiosity, so you can't alter suspension settings, throttle response or other dynamic parameters.

BODY STYLE

The Italians still have a knack when it comes to styling and the new Tipo has a sophisticated elegance lacking in a Vauxhall Astra or a Volkswagen Golf. Chrome door handles increase the feeling of style and solidity on this higher level version. Some hatchbacks look too long, either in the front doors or the rear ones, but the Tipo disguises its very spacious interior well. The Tipo is also available as an estate, badged Station Wagon. Boot volume is best-in-class at 440 litres, while the Station Wagon version adds an additional 110 litres. At 550 litres, this is also class beating. The Station Wagon can carry loads of up to 1.8m because of an extra 20cm of length. Its flip-and-fold 60/40 split rear seats provide a completely flat load floor. The doors open very wide which will help when loading small children into safety seats. Built in Bursa, Turkey, the Tipo has a well built, solid, feel. There is a space saver spare wheel in the boot but room for a full size one if preferred. Length 4,368mm. Width 1,792mm.

COMFORT & CONTROLS

Fiat Tipo interior

We found the seats reasonably comfortable for two stints of nearly two hours each, but I could have done with more lumbar support in the small of my back. The engine is rather growly in first and second gears and then much quieter. Headroom and legroom are excellent. All the controls are light, simple and logical to operate. The six-speed manual gearbox is a bit vague but nothing to worry about. There's a city driving mode which dramatically lightens the power assisted steering for low effort parking. The radio and phone can be worked via buttons on the steering wheel. Some audio buttons are mounted on the rear of the steering wheel, but are fine once you have found them. Top models get a small colour screen for satellite navigation etc. This is a surprise as I am sure I have seen larger screens on Tipos abroad. You are probably better off paying less and sticking your own TomTom or Garmin to the windscreen. There are lots of compartments and bins for storing personal items, mobile phones, game consoles, bottles, coins etc. There is also a USB port for charging and connecting devices.

MPG & RUNNING COSTS

All three Tipo diesel models produce under 100 g/km CO2 for low running costs. The test car's 98g level escapes road fund licence fees under the current rules. The official combined fuel consumption for the 1.6 litre Multijet hatchback with manual transmission is headline grabbing 76.3 MPG. but on this drive with a variety of drivers the cars averaged 43 to 51 MPG. The Tipo comes with a three-year / 60,000 mile warranty. Main service intervals are at two years or 24,000 miles.

GREEN CREDENTIALS

There's nothing that makes the new Tipo super green or moves the game on in this direction. So economical driving is perhaps more down to driver skill and commitment than with some new cars. The C02 levels are low but some of the engines are feeling their age. It was possible to drive the car on low throttle openings once up to cruising speed. The petrol engines encourage a more spirited driving style. According to our calculations, the tested has a Next Green Car Rating of 34.

OPTIONAL EXTRAS

Just because Fiat emphasised 'skills not frills' for the Tipo does not mean the car is Spartan. The entry level Easy model comes with kit including electric front windows, air conditioning, Bluetooth phone connectivity, DAB radio and USB input. Mid-spec Easy Plus models have alloy wheels, a small colour touch screen, rear electric windows, reversing parking sensors and cruise control. Top spec Lounge models, as tested have automatic lights and wipers, climate control, reversing camera and satellite navigation, but it is still a small screen like an early TomTom. Options include tinted glass £175, heated front seats £175, height adjustable front passenger seat £150 and rear seat armrests £150. Comfort, visibility, chrome and safety (speed limiter, cruise control etc) packs are also available. Fiat's Uconnect LIVE service uses with a smart phone app to provide music streaming with Deezer and TuneIn, news from Reuters and the ability to stay in touch with friends via Facebook Check-in and Twitter. You can also monitor vehicle performance, efficiency and maintenance status with eco:Drive and my:Car.

MODEL SUMMARY

Fiat Tipo rear

Model tested: Fiat Tipo 1.6 Multijet Lounge
Body-style: Five-door hatchback
Engine / CO2: 119bhp 1598cc, four-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine / 98 g/km
Trim grades: Easy, Easy Plus, Elite, Lounge and Business Edition

On-road price: Diesel versions from £14,995. Price as tested £18,545 (with extras)
Warranty: Three years/ 60,000 miles
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 3.5 Stars

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Russell Bray

Author:Russell Bray
Date Updated:25th Oct 2016

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