By Patrick James on 2018-02-04 - The author has been a motoring writer for more than 16 years. Formerly motoring editor at the Coventry Telegraph, he now produces motoring copy, on new car launches and road tests on a freelance basis.
Fiat Tipo Lounge 1.6
THE last time I drove a Fiat Tipo was back in 1996, and what a real firecracker it was.
Italian car makers do have a way of making car names sexy. Take the Maserati Quattroporte and the Tipo Sedicivalvole - which translated means four door for the former and 16 valve the latter, which was that particular Tipo I owned and drove. My wife fancied it as she had just parted with a 205 GTi and wanted something a bit sexy and rapid.
It was a bit of a rarity and miles away from the standard model at the time and light years away from the latest Tipo.
The new model is a big car in its segment, in both saloon and the estate form tested here and much more stylish than its predecessor. A full five seater, there is bags of leg and headroom available, while the estate offers class-leading load lugging.
Fiat says three six-footers can be accommodated in the rear, something I could not test, but you could see it being possible when sitting in the rear.
It is well equipped with a choice of two diesel and three petrol and engines and a starting price of an extremely competitive £12,995.
It's a budget price, but far from cheap and nasty and that could be key for those with limited funds for a new car. Even the range topper tested here with all the bells and whistles still comes in at under £20,000 for the manual, with a premium for the automatic model.
It certainly has a touch of that Italian chic when it comes to styling with with sculpted profile, swooping bonnet and smart alloys.
The front end features a smart honeycomb grille, flanked with stylish light clusters and large air scoop below, itself flanked by neat foglights. The interior too is smart, if not exactly a masterpiece of styling.
Everything is where it should be with the central touchscreen controlling functions like navigation and Fiat's Uconnect LIVE services, which combines with a smartphone app to offer music streaming and social media.
It also monitorsvehicle performance, efficiency and maintenance status.
All models feature air conditioning, DAB radio and Bluetooth connectivity, six airbags, remote central locking, electric windows and door mirrors split rear seats, a front seat centre arm rest.
In addition there is USB connectivity while this model also featured integrated roof bars, multi-function steering wheel, automatic lights and parking camera.
The dash has a sculpted look with some soft touch finish, while the dark trim is nicely offset with chrome inserts and surrounds to gear lever, steering wheel, rotary controls and vents.
To add to the practicality, there nine further storage compartments within the cabin.
All seats are comfortable and supportive and the cabin has an ambience which is in sharp contrast to the budget price.
The Lounge model adds a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear knob, rear power windows, LED daytime running lights, 17-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights, rear parking sensors and cruise control.
Prices start at just £12,995 for the hatchback and £13,995 for the estate. The range offers five engines in total. Three petrol units and two MultiJet diesels, including the 120bhp diesel unit in this car.
It is a smooth and refined unit and delivers excellent economy. The 74-odd mpg claimed seemed a bit ambitious, but it is certainly economical with 60mpg plus seemingly achievable. Low emissions of 99g/km make it cheaper with lower road tax and benefit in kind taxation.
The engine has plenty of torque and, mated to a six-speed manual box, is a good motorway cruiser, while the car rides well except over the most potholed of road.
Practicality is excellent with access to the boot aided by a low sill. The boot has an adjustable load floor and removable side storage panel to increase stowage space, while the single action folding seats offer masses of space.
Fiat Tipo Lounge 1.6 MultiJet SW
Mechanical: 120bhp, 1,598cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox
Max Speed: 124mph
0-62mph: 10.1 seconds
Combined MPG: 76.3
C02 emissions: 99g/km
Bik rating: 21%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
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