Car Review: New Fiat Tipo

The Tipo name is back and it’s all about budget!

Fiat’s new family hatchback and sedan, the Tipo, launched this week and while its value-for-money element is what’s being talked about most, the big question is, is it any good?

” You don’t need much to get a lot”

I have a number of new mommy-friends in the market for family cars and when they begin their search for a bigger and better vehicle, they almost always resort to limiting their options to compact SUVs. It’s not surprising while compact SUVs and crossovers are all the rage at the moment, and there are indeed some great buys out there, but I don’t think its worth writing off some of the new sedans, or even hatchbacks available. In fact some of these hatchbacks and sedans can offer you just as much in terms of space and if you do your homework you could easily find a car that gives you a whole lot more for what you would’ve spent on an SUV. The new Fiat Tipo is certainly one example of a car I’d suggest my new-mommy friends consider. Shane Howarth, head of Marketing and Communications for Fiat South Africa, said that the new Fiat Tipo is “everything consumers need and nothing they don’t want,” and after spending some time testing its new range, I tend to agree with the sentiment.

A simple but comprehensive range

Fiat hopes to turn South Africa’s C-segment on its head while Europe has sold around 75 000 Tipos since its launch last year.

A range of engines and trim levels are available for the new Tipo: two body styles – hatch and sedan, – three trim levels (POP, EASY and LOUNGE), three engines and three transmission types were available at the launch (see full range below). While I would loved to have tested all of them, I drove the 1,4-litre petrol version of the sedan (manual) as well as the 1,6-litre hatchback (automatic).

“POP” and “EASY” are available on both body styles while the hatch has “LOUNGE” as a third option.

The full engine and transmission line-up is as follows:

The updated range of engines in the new Fiat Tipo models include three different capacities with two fuel options: turbodiesel 1.3 MultiJet II, the Fire 1,4 16v and 1.6v and 1,6 E-torQ petrol engine.

Three transmission types are also available: 5-speed manual for the 1,3 diesel engine, 6-speed manual for the 1,4 petrol engine and a 6-speed automatic transmission for the 1,6 E-torQ petrol engine.

 Size and space

The new Fiat Tipo hatch is 4.37 m long and the sedan is 16 cm longer. Both are 1.79 m wide and 1.5 m tall.

Boot space is where the new Tipo really impresses and this is what will appeal to new families or those wanting to upgrade to something that offers as much luggage and passenger capacity as many of the latest compact SUVs available.

Load capacity in the new Tipo is 440 litres for the hatchback and 520 litres for the sedan and if 520 litres isn’t enough to convince you in terms of loading space, the flip-and-fold rear seats with 60/40 split can be folded down for a flat and even loading surface (not available on sedan POP versions).

I hopped into the back of the sedan and hatch during our test drive day and something else I noticed were the wide-opening back doors. Anyone who’s ever had to go through the process of installing kid’s car seats knows how incredibly frustrating it is having little to no space to fit car seats through the doors. Speaking of car seats, Isofix points in the outer rear seats are standard in the new Tipo.

“Everything you need, nothing you don’t want” 

On the inside

Let me say this first: if you’re expecting luxury inside you’re going to be disappointed. Having said that, it’s worth keeping the Tipo’s price tag in mind and everything that comes as standard. The Tipo family was developed around “Skills, no frills” and that’s an important intention for buyers to consider. The new Tipo isn’t trying to be something it’s not.

It’s simple, yet functional and has a bit of a quirky personality to it, which is exactly what Fiat describes their respective target market to be. Looking around the cabin, everything is logically laid out. There’s nothing flashy or pretentious about its interior while a sleek, black layout around the front of the cabin adds to its simplicity.

(Left-hand-drive example)

From the driver’s seat you can expect to find plenty as standard. From a multi-functional and adjustable leather steering wheel, to Bluetooth connectivity and height adjustable seats, the list goes on.

Other standard equipment in the range includes cloth seat trims, a full-size spare wheel, electric windows, immobiliser, driver and front passenger airbags and a tyre pressure monitoring system.

Every model in the new Tipo range has infotainment options with high resolution touchscreen, Bluetooth, audio streaming, voice recognition, SMS reader, USB and AUX points.

“The Fiat Tipo range shares the same values but each have unique personalities as diverse as their respective target audiences, from families and couples to young people or professionals.”

Behind the wheel

Of the two models I drove on our test day, the automatic 1,6-litre hatch was a firm favourite, and although it’s the top-of-the-range model, the price tag still sits just under R295K. It’s punchy and great for overtaking slow-moving trucks on the highway while its E-torQ 81 kW engine delivers 152 N.m of torque at 4,500 r/min. Fiat notes that the adoption of exclusive components and graphite-coated pistons are optomised to reduce friction and weight and after driving it you’ll find that this is what contributes to its light structure and soft suspension.

Overall, the new Tipo’s competitive pricing and value-for-money deserves the attention I hope it gets. I also hope that those looking for something to accommodate their new families or their need for a larger load capacity include the new Fiat Tipo in their list of options.

Pricing for the new Fiat Tipo Range

Fiat Tipo Sedan

1.4l Pop – R229,900

1.4l Easy – R249,900

1.3l D Easy – R274,900

1.6l Easy Auto – R274,900

Fiat Tipo Hatchback

1.4l POP – R249,900

1.4l EASY – R269,900

1.4l LOUNGE – R289,900

1.6l EASY Auto – R294,900

All Fiat Tipo models come with a standard 3 year / 100,000km warranty and service plan.

Source: Fiat South Africa

Image via Quickpic