Originally announced in 1988, the first generation Tipo remained in production until the mid 1990s but in September 2016 the new model to carry the name was unveiled.
The name was the only familiar feature of the newcomer as it has moved up in size and it offers one of the roomiest interiors in its sector.
If you need leg and headroom for a family, this is the hatchback which delivers, and there is also a station wagon giving even more luggage space than the 440 litres of the hatch.
In brief, Tipo is available with a choice of two diesel and three petrol engines, manual and automatic transmission in Easy, Easy Plus and Lounge trim. Prices rise from about £13,200 to £20,800, but our advice and that of the EuroNCAP crash assessors is to ensure you specify the safety pack which helped it reach four stars in lab tests.
In today’s market you should be able to haggle for this in the price you pay rather than have to fork out more for a car which otherwise trails its rivals and should make you think again about its safety rating of a standard three stars.
Having said that our test Tipo 1.6 with its 120hp turbo-diesel engine and six-speed manual gearbox was certainly capable of holding its own on the road with good firm mid-range acceleration, an effortless motorway gait and very good economy without even trying.
It was noisy when pushed hard through the gears and its suspension could be heard working hard underneath on bad roads but it smoothed out the bumps and with the big seats it was very comfortable at all times.
I was not too pleased with the fiddly adjustment to the seats but there was plenty of space and even in the back the tallest passengers found room to stretch out.
The oddments room was excellent and plentiful throughout and despite having a noticeable lip to the rear panel the boot was easy to load and a good shape. People could easily climb in or out and the driver had everything to hand and foot with good feel to the clutch and gearchange, a nicely balanced steering weight and feedback and brakes which quickly and safely dragged down speed without any drama.
The Tipo’s designers have kept it up to date with air conditioning, Bluetooth and digital radio on all versions and it’s not difficult to use with a hands-free phone or to search and operate the optional £500 satnav when fitted.
I liked the heating and ventilation controls and the essential gauges for speed and fuel but overall there was for my liking too much hard plastic visible over the fascia. The new Fiat Tipo felt very well built despite the plastic panels, it responded well and stayed put on the road without any dramas.
So the Fiat Tipo may not be your first choice for a family car but it really could grow on you once you test-drive it.
|FAST FACTS||Fiat Tipo Lounge MJ 1.6 hatchback £18,795|
|Insurance Group: 15E T2||Mechanical: 4cyl 120hp 1598cc multi-jet turbo-diesel, 6sp manual|
|Max Speed: 124 mph||0-62mph: 9.8sec Fuel: 47.3mpg|
|C02 emissions: 98g/lkm||Bik rating: 21%, £120FY, £140SR Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles|
|Sizes: L 4.37m, W 1.80, H 1.50 Bootspace: 440 litres Kerb: 1370kg|
|For: Comfort, performance, handling, economy, room
Against: Lot of hard plastic trim, road and engine noises, below average safety rating without special safety assistance pack.