Motoring

All new Fiat Tipo, reviewed by Tim Barnes-Clay, Motoring Journalist

New Fiat Tipo - 5-door Hatch
Tim Barnes-Clay
Tim Barnes-Clay

I have a soft spot for Fiat. Okay, I’m mean to be objective

– but you always remember your first car, right? And mine was a Fiat Panda. There’s no logic involved here – it’s pure emotion – and so, for me, the Fiat brand is synonymous with 1988 and my glorious first days of true motoring independence.  

The same year I got that Panda, a new Fiat was unleashed – the Tipo. The five-door hatch was boxy but appealed to the media and the masses, winning the European Car of the Year award in 1989.

Sadly, the adoration didn’t last and the Fiat Tipo went to the great scrapyard in the sky when it was replaced by the Fiat Bravo and Brava in ‘95. Fast forward to the present day and the brand new Fiat Tipo is back from the dead and aims to replicate the early success of the former model.

If truth be told, the Fiat Tipo is no stranger to being brought back to life – the moniker was first seen on cars over 100 years ago. And in 2016, Fiat is determined to keep the name going again by going down the Dacia-esque value-for-money route. The Italian auto-maker is blunt about its intentions: the all-new Fiat Tipo is a car without frills and, even though it’s more or less emulating Dacia’s marketing strategy, its real competitor is the likes of the Skoda Rapid Spaceback.

Now, I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but the all-new Fiat Tipo is, in my opinion, better looking than the Czech-made car. This is due to its elegant nose design, and neater overall shape. The Fiat Tipo’s price begins from a remarkably low £12,995 on the road, which is bound to shake up the British motoring market.

The fresh Fiat Tipo is hitting our shores in September in five-door hatchback and ‘Station Wagon’ (estate) guises. The body forms are indistinguishable from the rear doors forward and the outside of the Tipo really doesn’t ooze ‘budget’ by any means. It’s only when you step inside that the ‘no frills’ element kicks-in.

Some of the all-new Fiat Tipo’s switchgear is from the Fiat 500 range’s parts bin – as is the steering wheel. These components of the car feel good to the touch – it’s the plastics at knee-height on the doors and the dash that give the game away. The synthetic material is so cheap that it sounds hollow and scratches if you run your fingernails lightly over it. But, as with many things in life, there’s light and shade – and the Fiat Tipo’s factory-fitted kit tips the car back into the good books. All 2016 Fiat Tipo models receive six airbags, electric windows, DAB digital radio, USB and Bluetooth connectivity.

Behind the wheel, it’s evident that the all-new Fiat Tipo has been put together so that it delivers comfort over everything else. Its soft suspension enables the car to sail over pot holes without any discomposure in the cabin. Point the all-new Fiat Tipo’s nose into a corner rapidly, though, and body roll is perceptible. The well-weighted steering helps to make up for this slightly, but it still doesn’t make you feel as connected with the tarmac as you’d like to be.

From a power point of view, the all-new Fiat Tipo’s 1.6-litre oil-burning unit is nothing exceptional, but the car’s six-speed manual transmission impresses with its positive-shift action. In lower gears lag is obvious and, while it’s a quiet cruiser, things become rowdy from 3,000rpm onwards.

All things considered, the all-new Fiat Tipo is mediocre to drive and its cabin quality isn’t the best. But it does look good; it has bags of room; it’s comfortable, it comes loaded with kit and represents good value for money.

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