2016 Fiat Tipo Hatchback 1.6 120 Lounge review
The Tipo is Fiat’s all-new five-door family sized hatchback. We’ve driven it in the UK to see how it fares
What do we have here?
It’s 21 years since a Fiat Tipo last rolled of the production line. In fact, the Tipo was crowned European Car of the Year in 1989 but got consigned to the history books when it was replaced by the Brava and Bravo in 1995.
Until now that is. The Tipo is back and there’s more than a whiff of Deja vu. Like in the late eighties and early nineties, the Tipo offered space at a budget price. And rather than feeling 21 years dated, that strategy suddenly feels very present.
Just consider the success of Skoda in the past ten years and more recently, Dacia. Budget brands offering more for less, which is winning over buyers.
It’s available as a five-door hatchback and five-door estate, with a choice of three petrol and two diesel engines, while there’s three trim levels to pick from. Petrol options consist of two versions of a 1.4-litre with 94bhp and 118bhp, and a 1.6-litre with 108bhp but it’s only available with a six-speed automatic gearbox, while the other two get a six-speed manual.
On the diesel front, there’s a 1.3-litre 94bhp with a five-speed manual and a 1.6-litre with 118bhp which gets a six-speed manual as standard although a six-speed auto is available as an option.
Trim levels consist of Easy, Easy Plus and Lounge. Easy gets air con, DAB radio, six airbags and 60/40 split folding rear seats. Easy Plus adds a 5.0in touchscreen, 16in alloy wheels, leather steering wheel, LED daytime running lights, rear parking sensors and electric rear windows.
Range-topping Lounge brings climate control, 17in alloys, reversing camera, sat nav, automatic lights and wipers. There’s a special trim for business users called Elite, which is based on the Easy Plus and adds adaptive cruise control, autonomous braking, 16in alloys and a speed limiter.
Prices start at £12,995 for the hatch and £13,995 for the estate. We’re testing the hatchback with the 1.6-litre diesel and a six-speed manual in range-topping Lounge trim, which tips the scales at £17,995.
How does it drive?
Pulling away, you’ll notice the steering is quite heavy but this can be quickly rectified by pressing the City steering button on the dash, which makes the wheel impressively easy to twizzle. The steering does lighten as you pick up speed.
There are no dead points around the straight ahead and the steering has a good feel. You also don’t need to make continuous adjustments when driving in a straight line, making for a more relaxed driving experience.
Adding to the relaxed theme is the Tipo’s ride, its comfortable and well damped. Only a rapid sequence of potholes or broken road surfaces can make it unsettled and a little jiggly.
Helping this is a softer suspension configuration which can be felt when cornering. There is body roll and you’ll feel the shift of weight as you turn-in but it’s not unbearable. This is mainly due to the impressive levels of grip which keeps the car exactly where you want it to be.
Suiting the relaxed mannerisms of the Tipo is the diesel engine, especially on the motorway. In fifth and sixth gear, the majority of its engine noise recedes into the background. However, fifth and sixth are particularly long-geared, for better fuel economy, so, little happens when you want to increase speed with some urgency. That means you’ll be regularly downshifting to get back into the torque band. At lower speeds and when accelerating hard, there’s a torque surge around 3,000rpm and the engine pulls well here but can be gruff and vocal.
The gearbox works best when operated in a relaxing manner as it has quite a long throw and doesn’t like to be rushed.
At motorway speeds, wind noise is prevalent.
What's it like inside?
There’s plenty of room. It has the best front and rear legroom in its class while head room in the front is good and there’s loads of shoulder room. The doors feel almost too far away if you like to rest your arms or elbows on them.
The driver’s seat has plenty of adjustment as does the steering wheel, while visibility is good. The seats offer decent support and are quite comfortable, although initially they feel a little firm but after a long journey you realise how refreshed you are.
Overall, the dash is uncomplicated and the dials are neatly design, easy to read and well-sized. The Infotainment system is too small and feels dated already, which is its only let down here.
In the back, you sit quite high-up which gives rear passengers a good view forward. There’s a good amount of head and leg room and decent knee room. Door bins offer some storage space.
The boot opening is large while the boot floor is set low, meaning it has lot of depth, although this also means there’s quite a high lip to lift items over. The rest of the boot is square but there’s no underfloor storage.
This 1.6-litre diesel is said to return 76.6mpg on a combined cycle and emits just 98g/km of CO2. That means a year’s road tax costs nothing while company car users face a 19% BIK tax banding.
Insurance groups are yet to be confirmed but likely to be low.
Fiat has some excellent PCP offers across the range, with APRs ranging from 0% to 2.4%.
Servicing – Fiat offers Easy Care Servicing packs which range from one to five years cover with prices starting from £99 and rising to £799.
You get a three years, unlimited mileage warranty that includes three years roadside assistance.
The Tipo is roomy, comfortable, well-priced and deserves serious consideration if you are after a budget family hatchback.
The diesel engine is efficient with low CO2 emissions, a simple line up of engines and specs, and has a clear and easy to use dashboard.
Opting for the petrol will improve engine refinement and reduce purchase costs, while the entry-level Easy trim is available from a very reasonable £12,995.
Driver's Seat Rating:
3.5 out of 5
It's worth considering:
2016 Fiat Tipo Hatchback 1.6 Multijet 120 Lounge Stats
Engine size: 1598cc turbo diesel
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Torque: 236lb ft
Top speed: 124mph
Fuel economy (official combined): 76.3mpg
BIK band: 19%
Insurance Group: TBC
Kerb weight: 1295kg
Warranty: 3-years, unlimited mileage