Those who tend to lump memories of 1980s Fiats into one are inclined to roll their eyes at the memory of the original Fiat Tipo of 1988, forgetting that the badge - due to be reborn as a Focus and Golf rival in 2016 - brought us progress on several important fronts.
Launched in 1988, it started us all talking in earnest about platform-sharing technology, several years before VW and the rest embraced it. And it was the first affordable Fiat to be made entirely in galvanised steel.
The platform concept caused Fiat considerable aggravation at the time, as often happens with an early adopter. When the same architecture (suitably modified) appeared under Lancia and Alfa Romeo models, people had a hard time accepting that the models could be different, and justify considerably different prices.
On the positive side, this was the era in which tales of rusting Italian cars started to die, though of course, they took a very long time to disappear because so many corrosion-prone Fiats were still around, especially in the secondhand market. Still, this is when the modern era began.
As for the original itself, if you could put aside the boxy shape, the weak residuals and avoid the “premium” electronic dashboard (for its unreliability) you had a pretty good car. It sold quite well in the UK because it was roomy against others in its class, and rode and steered well enough to collar a decisive Car of the Year award win in 1989. In short, its achievements back then were plenty good enough to justify the use of its name a second time around.