On to better news. The Tipo’s most convincing strength is delivered in an area where Fiat has a history of innovation: with its diesel engine.

It remains to be seen how much uptake there will be for the pricier of the two diesel options in a model range defined so squarely by value for money.

Transmission bumps knock the car off line; poor body control means you have to leave extra space to slow for corners

Those who are willing to spend the kind of cash that might otherwise have bought a full-sized economy-minded diesel hatchback from Ford, Vauxhall, Seat or Hyundai, however, should find the 1.6-litre Multijet diesel in the Tipo broadly to their liking.

The motor is a bit peaky in the way it serves up its lump of turbo-induced torque, suffering with some lag at low revs, followed by a slightly abrupt rush of boost that the car’s accelerator pedal mapping could make easier to manage.

But the problem is also partly caused by the engine’s healthy 236lb ft, which is a fair amount more than that produced by most downsized oil-burners.

That advantage manifested itself in the performance figures we recorded. A typical 1.5 or 1.6-litre diesel needs about 11 seconds to accelerate from 30-70mph through the gears and between 13 and 14 seconds to do the same sprint locked in fourth gear.

The Tipo managed both in less than 10 seconds.

Unusually short gearing also contributes to the car’s assertive performance (there’s a longer-legged economy version powered by the same engine in other markets, but it isn’t offered in the UK).

Even for a six-speed manual, you’re therefore obliged to do more cog-swapping than you might do elsewhere if you want to maintain that frothy pace – which would be better news if the shift quality weren’t so rubbery.

Rush a gearchange through (as you must when doing benchmark acceleration testing, for example) and the gearbox begins to feel unpleasantly notchy and mechanically harsh at times.

The Multijet engine revs as all of its ilk tend to: with useful force up to a point but increasing breathlessness and noise above 4000rpm.

But at medium cruising revs it’s decently hushed, contributing to a quieter cabin at 50mph than plenty of more expensive hatchbacks we could mention. It’s decently economical, too, as we’ll get to shortly.


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