Fiat Tipo S-Design

1.4 T-Jet

Fiat Tipo, front static
Fiat Tipo, rear action
Fiat Tipo, front action
Fiat Tipo, rear static
Fiat Tipo, front seats
Fiat Tipo, boot
Fiat Tipo, dash detail
Fiat Tipo, dashboard
Fiat Tipo, rear seats

THE chap in the big white van had bought his morning paper and was ready to climb back into the driver's seat when he spotted the car parked alongside.

Intrigued, he must have liked its looks but not known what make it was - until an intense read of an alloy wheel centre badge revealed all. It was a Fiat...

I hope he felt well rewarded for his efforts. You don't see many Tipos running around in a Fiat landscape dominated by the smaller and much more chic 500 townie's favourite.

The Tipo occupies the other end of the Fiat spectrum; made in Turkey to keep the price down, it packs lots of goodies into a spacious and practical car where any hint of bling is resisted in pursuit of value for money.

So, you can't escape acres of solid and shiny black plastic throughout the cabin, from dash top to door panels, that give off a decidedly downmarket vibe.

You need to dig deeper to find the Tipo's stronger points, of which there are several, with standard kit count high on the list.

On this S-Design level car you'll find 18in alloy wheels with smart diamond cut finish, upholstery in a mix of fabric and leather, dark tinted windows and xenon headlights, along with automatic climate control and satellite navigation.

Add in cruise control, electric windows all round, DAB radio and Bluetooth, remote central locking and autonomous emergency braking, rear view camera and electric lumbar support for the driver's seat and this is a well equipped car.

The fact you may find the sat nav intensely annoying because of its small display and a reluctance to stay on the chosen scale is perhaps an indication that the Tipo's development budget matched its value proposition pricing.

More positively, you'll discover an interior big enough to sit a big man behind his twin brother at the wheel in front of him and a 440 litre boot plenty big enough for the weekly shop - and hiding a proper spare wheel.

Extra plus points appear when you move off, noticing the smooth six-speed gearbox and a surprising - and welcome - amount of shove when you need maximum overtaking attack. This is a car that picks up its skirt and gets a move on when demanded.

It also does a decent job of enjoying a corner or two, although at the expense of a ride that only really settles on the sort of road you see as a surprisingly smooth bonus these days.

The car showed 38.7mpg on its trip computer after a week's workout. An average result, you'd say. Company car users will note the Tipo's high benefit-in-kind rating thanks to tailpipe emissions punishingly near the top of the charts.

FAST FACTS

Fiat Tipo S-Design 1.4 T-Jet

Price: £19,225

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: 39.2

Insurance Group: 14

C02 emissions: 156g/km

Bik rating: 36%

Warranty: 3yrs/unlimited miles

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