Dynamically, the Tipo feels very much like a car whose basics are sound enough but which has been tuned and generally finished with little care or skill.

It would be pompous and unfair to assume this necessarily had anything to do with the fact that it was developed in Turkey, away from Fiat’s western European engineering base, by the same company that will build the car.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
Steering goes from light to heavy to light again as the car runs short of grip and rolls into oversteer around the off-camber corners

And yet, whatever the cause, there’s no mistaking where the Tipo is left. Even a driver who didn’t much care how sophisticated or easy to drive their prospective new hatchback was might get out of the Tipo, we fear, drive one of its direct rivals and immediately appreciate what the Fiat had been doing badly.

The springing of the car’s suspension feels medium-firm, but its ride is fairly quiet and well bushed, so there’s little of the hollow coarseness you might expect from a budget option.

But as the road surface you’re crossing goes from level to uneven, the cabin quickly becomes fidgety and hyperactive.

The car’s dampers fail to respond either quickly or progressively enough to take the sting out of bumps from the beginning of the first compression stroke, only to then over-react as the amplitude and frequency of the suspension inputs increase.

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And so the car’s vertical body control ends up feeling quite rudimentary and always digital in its willingness either to allow body deflections or check them too aggressively. It’s often restless on the motorway and regularly unsettled around town.

The car’s lateral body control is more respectable, and while neither its grip level nor handling response is anything special, the Tipo is certainly happy enough and capable enough to be hurried along through a corner.

But don’t expect to enjoy the hurrying much; the elastic-feeling steering, which is simply too variable in its weight as you add lock and overly corrupted by traction forces, puts paid to that, making the Tipo trickier to guide than it ought to be.

Those medium-firm suspension springs are the Tipo’s saving grace on Millbrook’s Hill Route. They spread its weight well enough, prevent it from lurching onto its outside tyres hard under duress and, in tandem with decent traction and stability control systems, keep the car roughly on line.

The car’s electronic chassis controls extend as far as decent understeer control, so the steering’s rubbery, inconsistent weight and total lack of feedback aren’t the handicaps they might have been — and neither is the engine’s sudden rush of torque.

Where the surface is smooth, the Tipo copes well enough; where there are mid-corner bumps, it struggles, that beam axle rear suspension being easily tripped up, disrupting stability and diverting the car a little.

And where suspension inputs become particularly exaggerated, the body control becomes poor, with enough body pitch to have a detrimental affect on grip levels.

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