From £13,4707
New Fiat Tipo offers a Focus-sized car for little more than Fiesta money. We try the turbocharged petrol version in and around Turin

Our Verdict

Fiat Tipo

Fiat goes back to the future with its new, 1980s-inspired family hatchback

2016 Fiat Tipo 1.4 T-Jet Lounge

What is it?

This is the first Fiat in quite some time that hasn’t relied on retro charm to help sales. It may have a name that harks back to 1989’s European Car of the Year, but the new Tipo is a clean-sheet design.

Not that there’s anything ground-breaking here. The Tipo’s engineering is entirely conventional, with styling that’s unlikely to offend. Where this car really excels, however, is the amount of space it offers for a relatively small outlay.

You can spend less than £13,000 on a five-door Tipo, while even a top-spec diesel Station Wagon with a dual-clutch automatic gearbox is less than £20,000. With Ford Focuses, Vauxhall Astras and other C-segment contenders now stretching well beyond that higher figure, the Tipo is certainly worth a closer look.

What's it like?

Under the sculpted bonnet of this particular example is Fiat's familiar 1.4-litre T-Jet four-cylinder petrol engine. A turbocharger lifts power to 118bhp, the most motive force you’ll find in the current range. Performance is adequate rather than swift; 0-62mph takes 9.6sec and the quoted top speed is 124mph. Although the engine can pull from around 1500rpm, you have to work it much harder to extract its full potential. The gearbox is at least pretty slick.

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Through the mid-range, the T-Jet sounds quite rorty but becomes strained at its top end. While on paper it may be a bit faster than the identically powerful 1.6-litre diesel, on the road the greater torque of the oil-burner makes it feel more muscular. It also offers much better fuel economy and CO2 emissions than the petrol unit’s relatively ordinary 47.1mpg (combined) and 139g/km.

When the road becomes bendy, you’ll soon find the handling errs on the side of stability rather than excitement. Pitch it hard into a corner and you'll find that the Tipo resists roll well and offers good grip but never feels as agile as a Focus or even an AstraThe steering is a similar story. The weighting is a bit lighter than that of some rivals but not overly so, and it’s also quick enough to deal with hairpins without having to twirl the steering wheel too much, but there’s little in the way of feel.

Calm things down and you can start to appreciate the car’s real assets. When cruising, the engine settles into the background, while the ride is mostly comfortable. We do have some concerns about the way the car jostled its occupants over particularly bad stretches of road, but we'll wait to confirm ride quality back in the UK.

Climbing aboard, it’s hard not to be impressed by the amount of space on offer at this money. Front-seat occupants will find it easy to get comfortable, regardless of height, and those in the back won’t be grumbling, either. Even with someone over 6ft tall driving, there’s still enough leg room for a passenger of a similar size to sit behind them.

Head room isn’t quite as generous, but you’d have to be very long of body to find your head brushing the ceiling. The middle seat isn’t where you want to sit, though. The base feels an odd shape, while the backrest is hard - not something you’d want to endure for long journeys. Move to the boot and you’ll find a load area that comfortably trumps that of a Volkswagen Golf. With the two-level floor in its highest position, there’s little in the way of a load lip and the opening is a good size.

Back in the cabin, you’ll find an expanse of soft-touch plastic on the top of the dashboard but not really anywhere else. Still, the controls feel solid in action and the hard plastics are textured. You definitely wouldn’t call it premium, but it'd be harsh to expect it at this price. 

Our test car was fitted with Fiat's latest Uconnect HD Live 7.0in touchscreen infotainment system. This is a definite improvement on the smaller 5.0in system that comes with entry and mid-range models, offering clear sat-nav, easy Bluetooth connectivity and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. It’s just a shame some of the menu buttons are too small, and it proved to be a little unresponsive at times.

Should I buy one?

Overall, the new Tipo makes a compelling case for itself. Considering the price Fiat is asking, you get a not unattractive hatchback with plenty of room inside, decent levels of standard equipment and a more modern-feeling interior than those on offer from budget brands.

What you won’t get is something that you could call fun to drive; there’s little enjoyment to be had. It’s also unlikely to appeal if the thought of squishy plastics and Germanic design make you come over all giddy. If, however, outright space for a competitive price is paramount, the Tipo might just be for you.

Fiat Tipo 1.4 T-Jet Lounge 

Location Turin; On sale September; Price £15,995; Engine 4 cyls, 1368cc, turbo, petrol; Power 118bhp at 5000rpm; Torque 152lb ft at 2500rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerb weight 1350kg; Top speed 124mph; 0-62mph 9.6sec; Economy 47.1mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 139g/km, 24%

Join the debate


6 May 2016
...and very much in the spirit of the original Fiat Tipo. But Fiat has been most effective, at focusing on practical for reasonable outlay. When it's done that - it's cars have in the past sold.

6 May 2016
Its not at all in the spirit of the original Tipo - the first one was incredibly well packaged, innovative, advanced, had (at least at the time) very individual looks and was at or near the top of its class. The new one is not particularly well packaged, its just a lot of car for the money, it is not innovative in any way, its not very advanced (the rear suspension of the 28 year old original is more advanced than the 2016 model ! wheres the progress ?) its not particularly individual looking and its nowhere near the top of the class (you wouldnt expect it be considering it sits on the 12 years old Punto/Corsa platform). Its a cheap car designed to compete with the cheap cars form Dacia, Datsun etc.

6 May 2016
The Astra and Focus are available for similar money. Its just that Fiat didn't go for fantasy RRP's with huge discounts on pre reg cars. You can easily find supposed £20k Astras stickered for £15k with delivery miles. I bet you could haggle that down to 13k without too much trouble. Mind you, it makes you wonder. £13k Tipo for £7k pre reg with delivery miles?

6 May 2016
Because it offers a good blend of comfort, roominess and affordability - and it's different from the premium obsessed mainstream offerings. But let's not forget that the original Tipo was generally considered a better car than the equivalent Escort / Astra competitors and that didn't sell well. I'm sure that there is a good car here, but it's saddled with Fiat's poor brand image and dealer network.

6 May 2016
The original Tipo (1988>) was a slab sided oddball in the styling stakes, particularly behind the rear doors. I always thought they had run out of development money when they got that far back. This new iteration looks far more normal. Perhaps too normal. Not sure it tells me it is a Fiat. I could just as easily believe it to be a Peugeot if the badges were changed.

6 May 2016
I would have thought the competition to this is the Skoda Rapid and Citroen Cactus rather than the aforementioned vehicles. All 3 are good honest cars that aren't trying to be 'lifestyle' or 'premium'.

6 May 2016
courtster wrote:

I would have thought the competition to this is the Skoda Rapid and Citroen Cactus rather than the aforementioned vehicles. All 3 are good honest cars that aren't trying to be 'lifestyle' or 'premium'.

It's as big as a Focus more or less so its rivals are more likely to be from Kia and Hyundai I would have thought. Perhaps even Seat. But in this price area things are tricky for a very conventional hatch, because people will start to look at other types of vehicles like crossovers from Dacia or Ssangong perhaps. I don't see this Fiat being much of a success here.

6 May 2016
I've got a German magazine from March with the saloon (be nice to get that here) advertise as from €11990 which would be less than £10,000. Britain is still a high priced car market.

6 May 2016
I have hard plastics, on my dashboard.

6 May 2016
So Fiat, with its already much pared down model range, decides to release a mainstream model which turns out to be dynamically mediocre and has zero visual appeal. I'd go further and say this Tipo is terrible advertisement for Italian car design and poor follow-up to those great Fiats of the past - 124, 127, 128, 130, Panda1, Uno1, Punto1 etc.


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