Every team needs a water carrier.
Not many motoring experts thought that Dacia would make as much of a sales impression on the UK car market as it has done, but boy were they wrong. The majority of new cars come packed with eqipment & state of the art technology & are aimed at Generation Y. However, there are still some customers out there who just want to drive a car with the basics & Dacia has cleverly tapped into this & provides it. Fiat have obviously taken note of how well Dacia has done in Europe, because their latest new model the Tipo has just been launched & is to a certain extent aimed at the same demographic as Dacia.
The new FIAT Tipo hatchback falls somewhere between the cheap & cheerful Dacia Sandero & the more expensive Volkswagen Golf. It’s ‘Ace in the Hole’ is that it’s incredibly spacious, thanks to class-leading legroom & outstanding headroom. It’s boot capacity is also best-in-class with a volume of 440 litres. And importantly, it’s generously priced, to appeal to the most frugal of customers, with the range starting at £12,995 for the 1.4 petrol version.
Despite the low price tag, even entry level Easy models come well equipped. Standard equipment includes air con, DAB radio with Bluetooth, USB & AUX-in, steering wheel with audio controls, electrically adjustable body coloured door mirrors with external temperature sensor, 6 Airbags (driver, passenger, front side, head), 60/40 split rear seats with head restraints, height-adjustable driver’s seat, front seats central armrest, remote control central locking & a space saver spare wheel.
That’s not all. Spend a £1000 more & you’ll be into the mid-range Easy Plus 1.4 petrol, which adds a 5” touchscreen radio, leather steering wheel & gear knob, rear electric windows, rear parking sensors, cruise control, 16” alloy wheels, fog lights & LED daytime running lights.
At the UK Tipo launch in North Wales, I got to drive the top of the range Tipo Lounge, which adds even more goodies to that list. Automatic climate control, SatNav with live services, a Visibility Pack (rain& dusk sensors & electrochromic dipping rear-view mirror), a Chrome Pack (chrome window, gear lever, fog lights & grill surrounds), a rear view camera, driver’s seat electric lumbar support & 17” alloy wheels & is still competitively priced at £14,995 for the 1.4 petrol version.
Also included with the Easy Plus version & above are Fiat’s Uconnect LIVE services, which combines with a smartphone app (available via App Store or Google Play) to offer music streaming with Deezer and TuneIn, news from Reuter & the ability to stay in touch with friends via Facebook Check-in and Twitter.
For business users there will also be a Tipo Elite model, powered by the 1.6 Multijet 11 120hp diesel engine, with CO2 emissions of 89g/km & a combined fuel economy of 76.3 mpg. Elite is offered with features specifically tailored for the company car driver & these include, an audio system with touch screen, a SatNav system with colour 5″ display touch screen, 3D voice &traffic information, Bluetooth including music streaming, adaptive cruise control & front parking sensors with rear radar-type parking distance sensors.
From the outside, the new Tipo is an attractive car, reminding me at first glance of the Peugeot 308 from the side & rear & from the front, the KIA Optima, with it’s prominent grille, Fiat logo & wrap-around headlights. The interior is finished in simple blacks & greys with the soft touch plastics on the top of the dash board being the stand out. The dashboard layout is very logical & uncluttered & thankfully Fiat have resisted the temptation to use the touchscreen for everything, so you get separate heating controls in the centre with the majority of other functions accessible through the steering wheel. The 5” touchscreen works well, although it does look small against the size of the Tipos dashboard. The seat fabrics & floor coverings look & feel durable, but some of the lower dash plastics, the glove box & door pockets for example, feel cheap.
Start the engine & the unit is relatively quiet & remains this way until you accelerate quickly up to motorway speeds, when diesel vibration get’s into the cabin along with some road noise. This though, does not spoil the ride which as we discovered around the North Wales roads is actually very good. There’s some nice body roll into & out of corners, courtesy of the Tipo’s suspension & the six-speed gearbox & steering are both light , as well as slick to use & overall the Tipo offers an enjoyable drive.
The Tipo doesn’t stand out particularly , but there are two areas where the Tipo really shines. Firstly, space. There’s loads of it, in fact plenty of room for five adults & their luggage, making the Golf, Focus et al look positively small in comparison. Secondly, the Tipo is very competitively priced. Prices start at just £12,995 OTR for the entry level 1.4 petrol ,with the fleet-friendly Elite retailing at £16,995 OTR. Contract hire prices for Elite look good too, with 2 year 6 + 21 10,000 miles per annum rates from £149 a month + vat, which for the Elite spec, plus tax-friendly CO2 emissions of 89g/km, 18% BIK, a combined fuel economy of 76.3mpg & all that space is a veritable bargain !
Whilst the Tipo does not come with the quality found inside the class leading Volkswagen Golf & doesn’t match either the Vauxhall Astra or Ford Focus for driving pleasure or poise, it’s more than a match for the Korean KIA cee’d & Hyundai i30, Japanese Nissan Pulsar & Toyota Auris, as well as the French Citroen C4 Cactus. It’s also miles better to drive, is much more modern & costs not much more than the Dacia Sandero, for a similar specified version.
In building the Tipo, Fiat have veered away somewhat from their lifestyle models, such as the 500 & 124 Spider . Despite this, they have managed to build a really user-friendly, spacious family hatchback, that’s extremely well appointed. At first glance, it may appear to look like it’s aimed at the Dacia Sandero market, but don’t be fooled. Having spent a couple of days driving the latest Tipo, I’m here to say that it is far from cheap & cheerful & could very well give the Fiat brand a significant presence in the C sector, something that it has been missing for some time.
A Pietro Vierchowod 3/5.