Fiat Tipo 1.6

MultiJet Lounge

Fiat Tipo, 2016, front, action
Fiat Tipo, 2016, front, static
Fiat Tipo, 2016, side, static
Fiat Tipo, 2016, rear, static
Fiat Tipo, 2016, side
Fiat Tipo, 2016, side, action
Fiat Tipo, 2016, interior
Fiat Tipo, 2016, rear seats
Fiat Tipo, 2016, boot

IT was a brave move by Fiat to make a concerted return to the family hatchback market and go head-to-head with such established big selling rivals like Ford's Focus and the Vauxhall Astra.

The Italian car maker also kept the name of its previous contender in this sector - the Tipo - last seen on these shores over 20 years ago after it had won the coveted European Car of the Year in 1989. Production ran from 1988 to 1996.

Over many decades Fiat has been an arch exponent of building highly successful small hatchbacks like the popular 500 but the brand has never really cracked it in the Focus/Astra sector.

All this at a time when rival car makers have been moving into new model streams with small SUVs, MPVs, Crossovers and the like but Fiat bosses believe that in the new Tipo they finally have a car that will compete.

The new Tipo, incidentally built in Turkey, is basically a sound, practical and affordable hatchback (there's an estate version too) aimed at both family motorists and company car drivers.

That means pricing has to be one of the key selling points and on that aspect this new five-door hatchback scores heavily over its more illustrious rivals.

The entry-level 1.4-litre 95bhp petrol version comes in at £13,145, the cheapest diesel is the 1.3-litre 95bhp at £15,145 while fleet buyers will be attracted to the 1.6-litre 118bhp diesel coming in at £17,145 - and that one has a CO2 figure of only 98g/km and a BiK tax banding of 19% - two crucial plus points for company car drivers.

Fiat claims two specific aims of the new Tipo are value for money and practicality for everyday driving with any of the two diesel or three petrol engines on offer.

In this respect the Tipo is ahead of the game with even the entry-level models having a decent level of standard equipment that includes DAB radio, USB/Bluetooth connectivity, steering wheel radio controls, air conditioning, front electric windows and more.

For entry-level model buyers who want some of the nicer options that are included as standard with higher trimmed versions they don't have to pay out an arm-and-a-leg as you would with some rivals.

For example front fog lights are £150, rear electric window £240, rear parking sensors £300 and dark tinted rear windows £175.

Across the range there are just three trim levels - Easy, Easy Plus and Lounge - and while from the outside the Tipo is no head-turner, it looks stylish enough and is pleasant to the eye.

Inside it's spacious too with the hatchback having 440 litres of space (the estate has 550 litres) and wide opening rear doors make it exceptionally handy for a family fitting young child seats in the rear while it will comfortable seat three adult size passengers in the back.

In addition - and continuing on the car's strong practical advantages - there are numerous cubby holes for storage and with the rear seats folded there's even more luggage space.

For the driver there's a well laid out dashboard with good, clear and big instruments that are easy to read while the TomTom-based sat nav system is straight forward and easy to use/ All in all the ergonomics are fine.

Drivers can also with the touch of a dashboard button change the mileage/speed reading from mph to km/h which makes it very handy for driving on the Continent.

In terms of engines again Fiat has kept it dead simple for buyers with three petrol engines - 1.4-litre 95bhp, 1.4-litre turbocharged with 120bhp and a 1.6-litre 110bhp unit which offers the only automatic gearbox in the range with a six-speed torque converter.

The pair of turbo diesels are a 1.3-litre 95bhp MultiJet and turbocharged 1.6-litre 120bhp and it's the latter of these I've been sampling.

This model has a decent enough crisp feeling six-speed manual gear change and reasonably good mid-range acceleration when using the gears sensibly and with a good amount of pulling power at lower speeds.

Fiat claims this car is capable of accelerating from 0 to 62mph in 9.8 seconds and will return 76.3mpg although on some 500 miles of varied driving the best return was 55.4mpg.

This 1.6-litre engine is quite responsive and punchy when needed but exceptionally refined for a diesel. However, the suspension is on the soft side with 17-inch wheels which means there is a slight body roll when pushed through corners.

The interior furnishings and fittings are much what one would expect of a car of this level and again are more on the practical side rather than about being luxurious.

Value for money and practicality are the two big aims of this new Tipo and in my book the Fiat backroom team has achieved both.

It's straight forward to drive, with no frills and simply gets on with the job and whilst some rivals are perhaps more fun to drive and have a bit more character, there are many drivers who will be more than happy with what the Tipo offers.

FAST FACTS

Fiat Tipo 1.6 MultiJet Lounge

Price: £17,145

Mechanical: 118bhp, 1,598cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 124mph

0-62mph: 9.8 seconds

Combined MPG: 76.3

Insurance Group: 15

C02 emissions: 98g/km

Bik rating: 19%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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