All-new Tipo is the perfect car to kick-start the Fiat revival
Fiat Tipo Hatchback - 1.4-litre petrol
Italian car manufacturer Fiat has been stuck in the doldrums since the rebirth of its much-loved little 500 and the 20 derivatives of it that followed.
The company hasn’t produced a C-segment model to challenge the rest of them in a number of years, and it has fallen way behind even the Korean brands.
Now, however, the Italian giant is shaking things up with the reintroduction of a model that hasn’t been around since 1995 – the Fiat Tipo.
When it was first introduced, the Fiat Tipo was an extremely popular model with Irish families and won both the European and Irish Car of the Year awards.
The latest model to roll off the production line is a whole new kettle of fish.
It is obvious from the offset that the Italians are crunching the numbers to attract buyers looking for an affordable, well-equipped car and with prices starting at just under €18k – with some decent standard equipment included – it might just do that.
On the outside, the new Fiat Tipo has come a long way from that boxy model of the early 1990s.
At a quick glance, there is something quite familiar about the new Italian job, and I couldn’t help but notice how similar looking to the likes of the Peugeot 308 it is.
In saying that, the designers have done a nice job giving it a nice front end, complemented by eye-catching creases down the side.
Step inside and there is a nice airy feel to the new Tipo. It won’t blow you away, but there are some nice touches, like the chunky steering wheel and comfortable seats – although the headrests are quite tough.
There are few hard-wearing materials, but overall, it is a nice place to spend time and there is ample room for five passengers, along with a spacious 440-litre boot.
There are three trim levels available to order, all with a lot of standard equipment included – Pop, Easy and Lounge.
The Pop trim level comes standard with 15-inch steel wheels, chrome door handles, electric adjustable door mirrors, manual air con, Uconnect radio with AUX, USB with Bluetooth connectivity, and steering wheel audio controls.
Upgrade to the Easy level and you can add 16-inch alloy wheels, five-inch Uconnect touchscreen, electric rear windows, rear parking sensors and cruise control.
On top of all that, the top-of-the-range Lounge trim, which was my test car for the week, comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, chrome pack, auto climate control, driver seat lumbar support, sat nav and rear-view camera.
On the road, I drove the 1.4-litre petrol with 120bhp. This was matted to a smooth six-speed manual gearbox. What didn’t impress me at all were the fuel figures I was getting.
Okay, I am stuck in rush-hour traffic most of the time on my work journey, but I was getting nowhere near the claimed fuel figure of 5.7l/100km.
My more realistic figures were ranging anywhere from 8.5l to a whopping 12l/100km on my trips.
This, added to annual road tax of €280, doesn’t bode well. However, motorway driving was a lot closer to the claimed figures, and I was getting around 7.5-8l/100km.
I didn’t get the chance to drive the 1.6-litre diesel and wonder if its figures would make more sense for potential buyers.
Overall, the new Fiat Tipo is a good start for a brand making its way back up the ladder.
The entry-level price might just make car buyers with a certain budget in mind take a second look.
The older generation may still have their reservations about the Fiat brand, but there really is no such thing as a bad car now, it is just who gives the best value for money.
It may well prove to be as popular as one of my all-time favourites – the Fiat 500.
Model: FIat Tipo 1.4 petrol hatchback
Price: (From €17,995) test car €20,495
Road Tax: Band €280 per year
0-100kph: 9.6 seconds
Max Speed: 124kph
Fuel Economy: 5.7l/100kms (claimed)
Boot Space: 440 litres