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Car Review

Fiat Tipo review

£14,915 - £20,910
610
Published: 13 Dec 2016
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Driving

What is it like to drive?

It’s not as fun as a Ford Focus – little in this class is – but all of its basic controls are nicely weighted, and there’s enough grip to keep your confidence high on a sodden British back road. The steering’s well-geared and decently weighted, it doesn’t understeer badly and it can be quite agile. It’s certainly handier than others (Nissan Pulsar, Hyundai i30) and might even embarrass the supposedly sportier Alfa Giulietta.

Feedback doesn’t flood in through the seat or steering wheel, but that doesn’t stop this being a simple car to drive. Unlike the Alfa, the Tipo’s actually based largely on Fiat 500L bits, and the ride is the main bugbear. Big bumps are dealt with acceptably, but smaller niggles fidget the car and rattle around the cabin. It’s where you can tell the car lacks some sophistication, and has been denied better dampers or independent rear suspension to cut costs. In the main, however, the ride quality is competent enough that you need never actually think about it. Faint praise, yes, but everything about the Tipo is good enough for what most people need from a reasonably priced hatchback, and if you’d rather buy new than risk even a year-old used car, it’s easy to see the appeal in something like this.

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There’s a reasonable choice of engines, too. Our favourite is the 120bhp 1.4-litre petrol ’T-jet’ turbo, but there’s a lower-powered petrol and a couple of diesels. The T-Jet, although not as thrusting as its excitable name promises, is a bit of a peach. Throttle response is good, it doesn’t drone or resonate as the revs climb smoothly, and it punts the Tipo along at a handy pace. Good, zesty, Italian engine.

Trouble is, sixty per cent of people who buy a Tipo, rather than hire one for the family holiday, will get a diesel by default because they’ll be fleet buyers. The 1.6-litre 120bhp MultiJet diesel does the job, but constantly chunters away as if it’s muttering to itself about the tedium of hauling around a cheap hatchback.

Meanwhile, the 1.3-litre 94bhp diesel has no torque and the clutch pedal is so flaccid you wonder if Fiat forgot to screw it in properly, so unless you really must emit CO2 in polite 99g/km chunks, avoid it.

The six-speed manual feels like it’s made of rubber and lubricated with plasticine, but if anything that just lets you crash the gears in quicker and keep up with Turin traffic smartly.

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Highlights from the range

the fastest

Fiat Tipo 1.4 T-Jet [120] Lounge 5dr
  • 0-629.9s
  • CO2153.0g/km
  • BHP120
  • MPG40.4
  • Price£17,915

the cheapest

Fiat Tipo 1.4 Easy 5dr
  • 0-6212.4s
  • CO2133.0g/km
  • BHP95
  • MPG42.8
  • Price£15,395

the greenest

Fiat Tipo 1.3 Multijet Easy 5dr
  • 0-6212s
  • CO299.0g/km
  • BHP95
  • MPG76.3
  • Price£15,790

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