2016 Fiat Tipo first drive review
It’s not the most pleasurable car, either to drive or to sit in, but if you’re just after competitively priced transport, there’s plenty going for it.
- Fiat’s new rival for Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra
- Available in both hatchback and station wagon body styles
- On sale now, starting at £12,995
One of the best things about the Tipo’s cabin is the amount of space inside. It’s generous enough that a pair of six-foot adults can sit in the back behind a pair of similarly sized pals up front, and with room to spare. A flat transmission tunnel makes life a little comfier for a fifth passenger, too, but the middleman will still have to sit on a seat that’s slightly harder and higher than those either side. The boot, meanwhile, is comfortably bigger than in most family hatchback rivals, providing an impressive 440 litres of space. However, there’s a big lip to negotiate when loading heavy items, and the back seats lie at an awkward angle when you fold them down.
Considering the car’s budget status, the cabin is also stocked with a very decent amount of kit. Entry-level Easy versions come with air-con, remote locking, electric front windows, six airbags and a stereo that includes DAB, Bluetooth and steering wheel controls, but you’ll want to pay the extra £1,000 for Easy Plus as it brings alloys, rear parking sensors, cruise control, front fog lights, powered rear windows, a touch-screen stereo and a leather steering wheel. Another grand earns you the upgrade to Lounge trim, which adds extra chrome accents, automatic lights and wipers, a rear view camera, climate control and sat-nav.
The Tipo’s budget status can be felt rather more on the road. The gearshift is woefully notchy, the steering is strangely heavy, feeling rather artificial and inconsistently weighted, and the suspension can struggle to deal with some of the more severe ruts that the UK’s battered road network can throw at it, especially at low urban speeds. That said, the car never gets to the point of being uncomfortable, and it does manage to change direction with reasonable accuracy thanks to decent body control. It’s not as fun or as cultured as the best cars in the class, but it’s not at all bad considering the low price.
Having said that, the price wasn’t as low as it might’ve been where our test car was concerned, because we drove the 1.6-litre diesel version in Lounge trim – pretty much the most expensive model you can get. Even so, the engine is a highlight, with generous low-down urge giving you good flexibility for a nice, easy life. The pace stays pretty limited when you work it harder, but the unit always stays quite smooth, adding to the car’s laid-back nature.
It’ll prove pretty affordable to run, too. The version we drove is the cleanest available, returning impressive official figures of 76.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 98g/km. All the diesels beat 70mpg, and although none of the petrols can beat 50mpg, they all get close.
Resale values will be pretty key to your long-term ownership costs, and although we’ve seen no figures yet, we can’t imagine they’ll be all that strong with the car’s budget nature. However, when you’re paying so little in the first place, your losses will still be pretty minimal.
In short, the Tipo is a very honest car that does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s not the most exciting, the most desirable, or the most sophisticated car of its type, but it costs you several thousand less than the cars that are. If all you need is basic transport for a bargain-basement price, then you’ll definitely want to give this car a look.
- Model: Fiat Tipo 1.6 Multijet 120 Lounge 5dr
- Price: £17,995
- Engine: 1.6-litre diesel, six-speed manual
- Power/Torque: 118bhp/236lb ft
- 0-62mph: 9.8secs
- Top speed: 124mph
- Economy: 76.3mpg
- CO2/BIK tax liability: 98g/km/19%
- Boot space: 440 litres