Fiat were always brilliant at building very good small cars.
The original Fiat 500 was a tremendous success. Some seven years ago Fiat chose to go back to their roots, and borrowing from the idea’s of Volkswagen, with the modern version of the Beetle and BMW’s modern incarnation of the Mini, Fiat went down the same road back in 2008 with the launch of the funky little Fiat 500 and what a success it has been.
However their exploits in the larger car class with cars such as the Fiat Bravo, and the original Tipo were not so successful. So can the new Tipo reintroduce Fiat to the mid sized class?
The new Tipo is available in three body styles, Saloon, hatch and estate (as tested here) with five engines available, two diesel and three petrol, with manual, or auto gearbox options.
Prices start at just €16,745 for the saloon, €17,995 for the hatch and €19,245 for the estate.
So has it got any street cred?
The new Tipo will not win any awards for revolutionary design, its neat and tidy and does look quite well but is relatively conservative in its overall shape and style when compared to some rivals.
What is it like inside?
The cabin of the new Tipo feels pretty well put together, but there is quite a lot of hard to touch plastics used on the door panels and parts of the dash which cheapens the feel of it all somewhat. All cars get air conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity, the usual electric windows, central locking and a full sized spare wheel.
There are three trim levels, Pop, Easy and Lounge, with the list of standard items growing rapidly as you go up the model range. When you get to the lounge version items such as Sat Nav with Tom Tom live services, climate control, 17inch alloys, auto lights and wipers, rear view camera, and a chrome style pack.
Accommodation is good with a decent amount of headroom both front and rear and the boot in the estate version tested here is a class leading 550 litres and as previously mentioned houses a full sized spare wheel.
What is under the bonnet?
My test car was powered by the 1.6 litre 120 bhp multijet diesel with power going to the front wheels via a 6-speed manual gearbox. Performance proved very good with plenty of mid range torque for overtaking. Fiat claim a top speed of 199km/h with a 0 to 100km time of 10.1 seconds. In practical terms it feels more lively than those on paper figures suggest.
Over my weeks test it proved frugal burning 6.1 litres of diesel per 100km.
Will I enjoy driving it?
The new Fiat Tipo does feel very well sorted when it comes to driving dynamics. It rides and handles very well indeed. The suspension soaks up most of the bumps and dips of our less well surfaced roads while also offering a taut enough set-up to be good to drive.
The cabin is well insulated from the outside world and the engine while it does emit that diesel growl actually sounds quite good.
So what is the final verdict?
First there is no question with prices starting at €16,745 the new Fiat Tipo does offer excellent value for money for a car in this class. The estate model I tested was the top spec Lounge version and even that comes in at under €25,000. However, the new Tipo does not feel like a “cheap” car. It feels like a well sorted package and so on that basis I can say its worth a closer look. My only caveat would be consider the potential issue of resale value as Fiat have not yet managed to address that issue.