Big Fiat has

performance, comfort

and space

Fiat Tipo, front
Fiat Tipo, front
Fiat Tipo, front
Fiat Tipo, side
Fiat Tipo, rear
Fiat Tipo, interior

NOT for the first time I find myself at odds with supposedly expert motoring pundits on well-known websites and magazines.

And it makes me wonder if their view of the more ordinary cars that most of us drive is sometimes coloured by their easy access to high end luxury machinery and top sports cars.

Whatever the reason, they all too often find fault with cars that I delight in driving and find more than capable in every situation.

The most recent example was the excellent Fiat Tipo, a five door very family friendly hatch rivalling the Vauxhall Astra, Peugeot 308 and Ford Focus, but with a bigger interior than them all, and one of the largest boots in the class.

But the way it drives puts me at odds with others. I found it comfortable over every kind of surface, and still able to entertain immensely when hustled through a series of bends at speed, with decent steering feel, beautiful balance and tremendous grip.

The suspension soaks up the worst of country road surfaces with huge ease at speed, and still takes in its stride the multi-times repaired tarmac, potholes and speed humps of town driving under 30 miles an hour.

While many are likely to be sold in 1.6 turbo diesel form, I drove the cheaper 1.4 petrol turbo with 120bhp.

That's good enough for an under 10 second zero to 60 sprint, helped by a well-spaced six-speed gearbox with a smooth and easy change.

But the mid-range is where this smooth and very quiet engine excels, pulling hard in the gears from just 1,500 revs and from tickover even in sixthgear when trying to get best economy.

There was almost always enough urge for overtaking when road conditions allowed and sixth gave all the acceleration needed for lane changing on the motorway.

The whole car feels very solid and well screwed together and refinement is excellent on the move.

The standard trip computer was showing 36 miles per gallon, which is close to the real figure for other similar petrol powered models in the class.

And when the extra cost of buying diesel plus the lower economy of the petrol are taken into account, the equivalent diesel Tipo takes nearly four and a half years to break even against this one.

I drove the Lounge in the middle of the range and it comes well equipped as standard, with excellent seat and column adjustment for all sizes of driver, climate, automatic emergency braking, cruise control, parking sensors with a rearview camera and a DAB stereo with Bluetooth USB and aux-in.

It also has alloy wheels, a touchscreen for the media, sat nav. Automatic lights and wipers and electric lumbar adjustment for the driver's seat.

FAST FACTS

Price:£16,970

Mechanical: 118bhp, 1,368cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 124mph

0-62mph: 9.6 seconds

Combined MPG: 47

Insurance Group: 13

C02 emissions: 164g/km

Bik rating: 33%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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