Here’s proof that not everything in the world needs to be an SUV. At a time when car buyers, and therefore car makers, are scrambling towards the world of faux-by-fours, Fiat has brought us the Tipo – a conventional family hatchback.
It’s more than that, though. It’s a conventional family hatchback at what has become a very unconventional price. You can get a Tipo for just £12,995, and even with the top combination of trim, engine and gearbox it’ll still give you change out of twenty large.
There are three spec levels in the range. We’ve got the tip-top Lounge model, boasting climate, reverse camera, auto lights and wipers and a 5.0” media screen with sat-nav. All good stuff, though when you add scratchy plastics to the list it starts to look a little budget-built.
To be fair, the dash top material is of a higher quality. And as well as having good, clear dials and gauges, the Tipo’s interior is full of light and space – you can sit a full set of six-footers in it no problem, and the cargo area scores for sheer space as well as usability thanks to a handy twin-level adjustable floor.
On the road, the range-topping diesel engine tested here is a bit noisy and hardly fast, but it’s full of flexibility and will propel you to 62mph in a little under ten seconds. You won’t get excited by 118bhp, but with 236lb ft behind it the Tipo is by no means short of shove where it matters.
The engine does run out of steam when thrashed, which is nature’s way of saying not to thrash it. With so much torque in the middle of the rev range, you won’t have to do that to keep the pot boiling – and while there, you’ll have good body control and a drama-free chassis on your side. More steering feel would be welcome, but there’s enough weight to it to keep your confidence up.
The Tipo’s ride quality doesn’t match its handling, though. It’s acceptable in pot holes, so your false teeth are safe, but everyday rough roads prevent it from settling the way you’d want it to.
Despite this, the Tipo is what we’d call inoffensive to drive. That’s either fulsome praise or stinging criticism, depending on your view of what a car should be – but at this sort of money it’s exactly what a car should be.
And a good bit more.
Certainly, there’s not a lot that can give you this much interior space for your money. And while the cheap plastics here and there do nothing to help it, focus instead on the clever boot and overall kit list and you can hardly help that conclude that while Fiat has cut costs in making this car, it’s cut them in the right places.
2016 Fiat Tipo 1.6 MultiJet Lounge
On sale Now; Price £17,995; Engine 4 cyls, 1598cc, diesel; Power 118bhp; Torque 236lb ft; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerb weight 1395kg; 0-62mph 9.8sec; Top speed 124mph; Economy 76.3mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 98g/km, 19%