Fiat has a certain fondness for reusing old model names. The last time the Tipo was on the road was back in the late 1980s. Like neon and tie-dye, it’s back. The modern version doesn’t bring much of the 80s with it, though – it’s a pretty standard family hatchback and estate that can offer good value if you pick the right model.
Fiat has always been a bit hit and miss with its styling. We think the Tipo is definitely a hit, especially for a class of car not exactly focused on good looks.
You can see hints of the sporty 124 Spider in the styling, including the steeply raked windscreen and wide grille, plus the touches of chrome all around.
The contoured sides and roof also make it look a little bit more interesting than it needs to be. Don’t look for one in any exciting paint finishes though. The choice is rather limited and red is about as racy as it gets.
You can see hints of the sporty 124 Spider in the styling.
What’s it like to drive?
If this were a school report for the Tipo, the comment would definitely be ‘could try harder’. There’s nothing specifically wrong with the way the Tipo drives, just nothing brilliant either.
The suspension is deliberately soft and spongy, yet still manages to transmit quite a lot of the bumps and other potholes you can’t avoid on the roads these days. It also means that it’s a bit spongy-feeling to steer and tends to roll round corners.
It also means that it’s a bit spongy-feeling to steer and tends to roll round corners.
Fiat has obviously decided that comfort is going to be one of the main selling points of the Tipo and you’ll discover that the seats are pretty good in this respect. There’s plenty of head and legroom, and the driver’s seat is easy to adjust to put you in the perfect position.
For rear-seat passengers, it’s fine for two but fitting an extra person more comfortably is a bit tougher thanks to the middle seat that manages to be both narrow and pretty hard too.
The dashboard and instrument panel have quite a generic look to them. They have been enhanced slightly by the addition of the same kinds of climate controls you’ll find in some Alfa Romeos.
Lower-spec cars have a five-inch infotainment screen with sat-nav based on a TomTom system. Its small size can make it quite fiddly to use even those with slim fingers - even when you’re not moving.
You can also see that there have been quite a few economies made in the use of materials all around the cabin, with hard plastics instead of the soft ones that would give a rather more luxurious feel.
One area that the Tipo can’t be faulted on is the amount of boot space it has. In the hatchback version, this is very near to being class-leading and only a little smaller than the Peugeot 308’s boot. There’s plenty of room for all the family’s luggage, as well as a buggy.
Turning to the estate version of the Tipo, this really does let you load up a great deal of stuff. You can also adjust the boot floor by raising it to be completely flat or have it at a 45-degree angle. The latter can be very handy if you need to stop things rolling around in the back.
The 60/40 folding seats add even more flexibility and, when you’re looking for places to store smaller items in the cabin, there are pretty generous door pockets and a good-sized glovebox too.
Running costs and reliability
If you’re aiming to save on fuel costs, the Fiat Tipo could well be the car you’re looking for, especially if you go for either the 1.3-litre or 1.6-litre diesel engine. Both should deliver around 70mpg on average with some economical driving.
If you wanted to have a petrol engine, this figure would drop to between 44 and 49mpg – still not bad but perhaps a good enough reason to go for the diesel.
Fiats haven’t always had the best of reputations for reliability in the past. They’ve made big strides in recent years. Even so, for extra peace of mind, it could be worth thinking about taking out cinchCare to cover you against the unexpected.
What we love
If you’re looking for a family hatchback or small estate at a supermini price then the Fiat Tipo could be just your cup of cappuccino. You can see where they’ve economised to keep the price down but it’s not really in areas where it makes a huge difference, and it’s very sparing on fuel too.
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It might not have all the style, polish and quality of some of its more expensive rivals but the Fiat Tipo has more than enough plus points in its favour. It all adds up to a car that will suit a lot of families who don’t have the biggest of budgets to play with.
This review was