★★★★ | Tipo MultiJet 120hp Lounge
Finally, Fiat is coming back. The recent launch of the brilliant 124 Spider set the wheels in motion and now we have the Tipo. Admittedly it is a name from the past of a car that did great things for the Italian maker. Above all, though it is NOT a new form of 500.
I liked the original Tipo. It looked like nothing else out there. Square and boxy like the box it arrived in. It had some funk too with the top of the range models starting the digital dashboard era of displays that have now become commonplace. Above all, it didn’t fall apart.
This is the trouble when you resurrect an old name. Some will remember the past product for reasons good or bad. I remember it for the good so naturally, I got excited about the arrival of the new Tipo.
Visually it doesn’t fail to impress. Front on it looks rather nice. It’s not like the white elephant in the room of the original which some will say is good. The rear, however, does look a little like most hatchbacks out there.
Since Tipo 88 (Car of the Year 1989, it was that good) Fiat haven’t really been able to keep up in this fierce segment. Bravo/Brava missed the boat by miles and the Stilo, while it looked good at the front, had a fat backside and wasn’t very good. So I am glad to say that on first acquaintance with new Tipo I am a happy chap. There was a time when Tipo 88 could match the build of Volkswagens Golf Mk3. New Tipo can now hold its head up high once again.
Fiat has rightly or wrongly not aimed Tipo at the Golf driver. There lays the huge problem most manufacturers have come across. Your product needs to be bloody good to entice the Golf driver away. Instead, they have gone for the more lower-priced market segment. With prices ranging from £12,995 to £18,995 Fiat have priced it very competitively.
The one thing you will notice is how well it is painted. The boot is large and missing a cargo net so I was forced to place some shopping under the boot carpet. It was here that I noticed that Fiat had painted the bits you don’t see or care about. Even the paint around the boot shut area was smooth and glossy. A lot of manufacturers these days tend to miss these areas. To be honest you probably won’t even notice it. To me, it is these little touches that show Fiat are trying hard to win back some of the market it lost. Even the engine bay is painted well.
I’ve started doing a centre console rub. You’ll be amazed at how well or not this area is put together by manufacturers. The jigsaw pieces used on Tipo were well fitted together. No harsh edges to be felt.
It has nothing special on it as far as the lighting goes. No expensive HID bulbs or swivelling headlights. Instead, the engineers have relied on making them good in the first place. Driving down country lanes where l live, the Tipo makes easy work of lighting my way.
A good driving position was easy to obtain with multi adjustments within the seat and steering wheel that cater for rake and reach. What wasn’t so successful was the centre armrest. It fouled the operation of the handbrake. Something that blighted Tipo 88 so it was nice to see another consistency of old meets new.
The Tipo was easy to live with too. Again nothing special or outlandish like a one-touch keyless entry or starting buttons. A simple key with remote buttons did the trick. A little touch l did like was the angle of the ignition keys entry. More 45 degrees instead of the usual 90. It doesn’t sound much, however, there was no scrabbling to find the key hole.
It’s these egonomics that really are hit and miss around Tipo. The front window switches on the driver door had the front window switches too far forward. Numerous occasions I kept opening the rear windows. This is something l am sure will annoy those in the spacious rear. Like Tipo 88, new Tipo also has better rear passenger space than you would think.
One other thing that infuriated me more than anything was the preselected text reply messages. There was no way to by-pass them and she liked to say everything and tell you everything. The software is out there to better this. For the convenience that it offered it was a little too distracting.
The saving grace of the infotainment system was its ease of use. The DAB pick up was good and station selection impeccable.
The 120bhp Multijet diesel engine was a strong puller. 320 Nm of torque available at 1750rpm made rapid progress through the gearbox. The useable power band mostly used was within 1750 to 4000rpm. By 3750rpm all the horses had done their bit. One downside to the engine when standing outside and scrapping the ice off the screen was that it seemed a little too clattery from cold. From inside you could be hard pushed to notice it.
Italian cars are famed for their handling. Tipo 88 spanned the seductively fast Sedicivalvole. The chassis could handle this. In new Tipo, it needs a tweak or two from Abarth. As it is in the 120hp Lounge model it is more than adequate but not the best. A combination of subtle spring choices has taken the edge away from that foot down powerhouse hot hatch feel. It’s a move I am seeing more off as manufacturers revert away from the Teutonic tautness of the Germans and about time too
I like Tipo. It’s not perfect in every area. It is easy to live with and on the eye, it does have good looks with crisp lines that aren’t fussy. Inside is accommodating and it has a good strong well built feel to it. Something Fiat haven’t had for a long time. With that in mind, the Tipo didn’t fail to impress me over the week I had it.
Build quality particularly attention to detail
Engine clattery when cold
Armrest fouling handbrake operation
Preset mobile phone reply messages
Car – Fiat Tipo MultiJet 120hp Lounge
Price – £18,545 (as tested)
MPG – 76.3mpg (combined)
Power – bhp 120 @ 3750rpm
0-62mph – 9.8 seconds
Top Speed – 124 mph
Co2 – 98 (g/km)
Motoring nurse or medical motorist? It’s a difficult one. By day l nurse and by night l drive.
Fingers have always been grease deep in attending the motoring of an ageing fleet. And now l write about new and old.
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Member of the Southern Group of Motoring Writers. (SGMW)