Grammar Nazi’s the world over swoop down in their flocks upon anyone who dare’s misspell a word, which could only be attributed to autocorrect of course.
So when I was invited to drive the brand new Fiat Tipo, the grammar nazi in me began to wonder how they could have made such a blatant mistake in the name.
All kinds of pronunciation variations started permeating my mind and I could only ask one question: Is this the next best thing from Fiat or this going to be a Tipo-cal non-event?
To answer that question, I can quite happily say that this is a very, very nice car and certainly not typical in any way.
After Alfa Romeo’s launch of the acclaimed Giulia recently, the Fiat Chrysler Group seem to be on the path of building good cars again, and the Fiat Tipo is no exception offering a build quality seen in Fiats of the past.
What is it?
In an incredibly competitive C-segment, it’s refreshing to see Fiat playing in that corner of the market again, albeit with a much better car that previous models.
You can expect to see three trim levels on showroom floors which include the Pop, the middle of the range Easy and the range topping Lounge.
There are two petrol and one great diesel option available in Sedan and Hatchback guise, with the diesel option only available on the Sedan models.
The design of the interior is good, with everything in easy reach of the driver and passenger.
The UConnect™ touchscreen-equipped models offer an easy to use system on a touch screen (coming in at 5″), while the lower end models feature a simpler LCD UConnect™ radio. Both are easy to pair with your bluetooth phone.
The UConnect™ touchscreen option also include navigation but the screen is a little small for this application and I feel it could be a little bit larger.
Interior comfort is very good, with the seats giving good support and even in cloth trimming has a quality feel.
There is a manual or automatic air conditioning system on offer, depending on your choose of trim level.
There is a slightly premium feeling about the cabin with top of the dashboard, for example, being covered in a quality soft touch material which really bolsters the interior feel of quality.
The Tipo features class-leading boot space (520 on the sedan, 420 on the hatch) and more than enough room in the cabin for all four passengers.
The performance of the range has been kept to a minimum in order to keep costs down, with the entry-level sedan hitting the floor at R229,900 and the hatchback at R249,900.
Three engine models are available: 1.4 70kW petrol, 1.3 70kW/200Nm diesel and a 1.6 81kW petrol.
The 1.4 engine will suffer at altitude while feeling average at sea level.
The pick of the litter has to be the 70kW/200Nm diesel which packs a good punch along with good economy (we will chat about economy in our full test review coming up in the next few weeks).
Unfortunately, the diesel is only attached to the Easy-spec sedan model, seemingly to be more attractive to the rental industry, but plans to include a diesel in the hatchback line up are currently under investigation. Let’s hope that we do see the diesel in the Hatch as that really is a great engine.
There are a number of transmission options which include a 5-speed manual, 6-speed manual and a 6-speed Auto (only available on the 1.6 Easy-spec models).
The Fiat Tipo really does drive well and offers a decent level of engagement to the driver.
While the 1.4 petrol felt average in terms of performance at the coast, I fear that at altitude it will struggle a lot.
The 1.6 81kW petrol engine will give you a little extra oomph missing from the smaller engine.
The 1.4 turbo found in the Fiat 500 range would be a welcome addition, but has been omitted to try to keep the price down for consumers.
The steering feels good at speed and provides a decent amount of feedback to the driver.
There is also a City Mode button which loosens up the steering system making it far easier to manoeuvre the vehicle in and out of tight spots.
The Tipo is fitted with front driver and passenger airbags, ABS, electronic stability control (ESP), hill hold assist, tyre pressure monitoring and ISOfix child seat mounting points at the back.
On all, but the Pop derivatives, you will also get rear parking sensors and a reverse camera is optional on the Easy sedan and Easy hatchback
The 1.3 Lounge Sedan derivative offers a reverse camera as standard.
The final verdict
All in all, this is a good offering from Fiat with a great amount of boot space, both on the Sedan and Hatch, and offering sufficient leg room for rear seated passengers.
I can’t help but feel that buyers might actually just be prepared to pay the extra money for a 1.4 turbo option. The car is a great offering and the hatch would be topping the list in this segment if it weren’t for the naturally aspirated engine options.
While you won’t find hungry executives clambering to find themselves in the driver’s seat, it offers an honest well-priced alternative in a segment that is very competitive.
If I had to choose one, it would have to be the 1.3 Diesel Sedan Easy which really drives superbly with the sprightly engine.
Fiat, please bring us a diesel hatch option!
Pricing for the Fiat Tipo is competitive…
- 1.4 Petrol Pop R229 900
- 1.4 Petrol Easy R249 900
- 1.3 Diesel Easy R274 900
- 1.6 Petrol Easy Auto R274 900
- 1.4 Petrol Pop R249 900
- 1.4 Petrol Easy R269 900
- 1.4 Petrol Lounge R289 900
- 1.6 Petrol Easy Auto R294 900
All Fiat Tipo models include a standard 3-year/100 000 km warranty and service plan.
*Disclaimer: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles South Africa invited TheMotoringChannel along to experience their new Tipo. They paid for flights and meals and provided a number of cars for us to drive for the day all at their expense. This has bugger all bearing on our opinion of the vehicle 😉