WHEN the Fiat Tipo last graced British roads in the 20th century a good friend of mine had a souped up version that did a decent impersonation of a intercontinental ballistic missile.
It was a marvellous motor that handled like a jet fighter and was always flirting with a speeding ticket while garnering a host of admiring comments.
Part of Fiat's rich heritage, it was a natural move to resurrect the name when the Italian motor manufacturer recently decided it was time for a return to the medium-sized family car sector.
The latest model - available as both a hatchback and an estate - makes a big impression as a value-for-money family car boasting practicality, while still offering my memory motor's joie de vivre on the road.
In taking on the likes of the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra, the Tipo boasts several potent weapons - the first of which will be apparent when you arrive at the showroom.
Initially you may think the salesman has made a mistake when he quotes you a price, as the range starts at Â£12,995 - more than you'd pay for a supermini than a car pitched at the level above.
The flagship Lounge hatchback model I drove still comes in below £18,000 and lacks for little with a raft of goodies.
Automatic climate control keeps the atmosphere pleasant in the cabin and is easy to adjust.
The five-inch touchscreen display is on the small side for this day and age, but all things considered is something that is easily put up with.
Fiat's Uconnect system gives access to all things digital while the steering wheel is festooned with controls for the cruise control and digital radio.
For convenience there are front electric windows, height adjustable driver's seat as well as a height and reach-adjustable power steering wheel.
The Tipo may be well priced but it doesn't look cheap as it offers a distinctive exterior thanks to chrome door handles, powered body-coloured door mirrors, 17-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights and body-coloured bumpers.
The bang for your buck then is guaranteed, but the other great thing about the Tipo is it offers a practical and versatile option for families.
The upright tailgate ensures boot space is generous at 440 litres for the hatchback - rising to 550 litres if you choose the estate. The rear seats split and fold when more space is required and if you manage to fill that then you can make use of the roof rails fitted as standard.
There is plenty of rear leg and headroom ensuring everyone can get comfortable while wind and road noise are efficiently excluded from the cabin.
The ride is reasonably firm without putting your fillings at risk with most humps and hollows passing for roads these days efficiently handled.
The 1.6-litre diesel under the bonnet of my motor - linked to a six-speed manual gearbox - is both nippy and efficient with a claimed average fuel economy figure of 76.3mpg and a tax-friendly CO2 rating of 98g/km.
There is lots of torque at low revs so when contemplating an over-taking manoeuvre you don't also have to think about changing down a gear to do it.
Other engines available with the Tipo include a 1.3-litre diesel and a 1.4-litre petrol in various states of tune and turbo boost. There's also a 1.6-litre petrol automatic and the option of a dual clutch transmission on the 1.6 diesel.