It's a simple concept, but with more cache. If we see the Fiat Tipo on the street, we won't think it's an economical car. By economical I don't mean spartan, it's quite surprising the quality/price ratio, Fiat has made an effort to make a really competitive product. Even the entry-level versions are not "bare bones", they have more equipment than you would expect for that budget.
We tested the most powerful engine and that should produce more sales, the 1.6 MultiJet 120 hp, with the Opening Edition +. The first 450 units of the Fiat Tipo come with more equipment than the range-topping versions will have, and considering the total, it's very tempting if you're considering a car from even the D-segment (used or entry-level model). Forget your Fiat prejudices, and read on.
A beautiful, aerodynamically clean design
The Fiat Tipo has been designed from the beginning as a sedan, unlike other sedans that have started from a compact five-door and added a third volume. The brand's managers are very conscious of this aspect. The result is evident, the three dynamic lines are smooth, not forced, and pleasing to the eye. It has obtained a Cx of 0.29, the cleanliness of the aerodynamics is very noticeable at high speeds. In fact, the 120 bhp diesel is a top speed of 199 km/h (199 mph).
It's offered in one solid colour and six metallic finishes.
This car doesn't incorporate cheap car solutions like black exterior plastic parts or steel wheels with hubcaps. The simplest trims -Opening Edition (first units only) and Easy- already mount 16-inch aluminum wheels. The top models go up to 17″, and the car is visually appealing. You don't have to fit absurd 18″ wheels to make it stand out.
It belongs to the C-segment by right, and has nothing to do with the Fiat Punto. It's based on a new FCA Group platform, which fits cars from segment B to D. On the other hand, it's a clearly superior car to the Fiat Linea (a stretched Punto). It measures 4.54 meters long, what a D-segment sedan could measure a few years ago, like the Mercedes-Benz C-Class (W203). It has one of the longest wheelbases in the segment, 2.64 metres long.
Inside, it looks like it's a class above.
I seem to have taken it straight from the press kit, but it makes perfect sense. You'd expect rock-hard plastics, like in the SEAT Toledo or Citroën C-Elysée, but the Fiat Tipo has cushioned plastics. There is a curious detail, the scratching of many plastic surfaces reminds me of cars from the 90s, but not in a negative sense.
There is a choice of four interior shades
The basic shapes of the dashboard are symmetrical, with a line that crosses it from side to side. Ergonomically it is very well resolved, virtually all controls can be manipulated without having to separate the back of the seat. There are nine storage compartments with a total capacity of 12 litres. It's easy to empty your pockets and find space for whatever you're carrying.
There are details that speak very well of the car, such as the glove box that lowers in a delayed way, some rubber lined bottoms, or the height adjustment of the seat belts. In my opinion, the simplest thing about the car is the dashboard, which includes a color multifunction display. If anyone was expecting a garish monochrome screen, I'm glad to disappoint. For things like this, it's a cut above its rivals. These are high C-segment, or even D-segment, details.
I found it very easy to find the right driving position as the steering is adjustable in height and depth (in the basic version, too), and it can even have electric lumbar adjustment for the higher trims. But there is a detail that leaves the car a little outdated for 2016, and is that the upper central screen is 5″, very small. It's touchscreen and doesn't imply navigation, but it can have it.
Someone will think that the basic versions will have a crappier screen, or no screen at all. No to both, it always has a 5″ screen. The physical buttons of the interface eat quite a lot of space, it's not like the tablet that some models of its segment have, pulling already for the upper part. Even so, it doesn't have an excessive number of buttons. There will be those who prefer to have a reasonable number of buttons to having to navigate through multiple menus to do the same thing.
Look at the steering wheel, it doesn't have an excessive number of buttons either. The trick is that the left side is for moving through the menus and controlling the hands-free phone, leaving the right side for the cruise control (the limiter is set via the menu). The controls to change songs, cancel the sound or change the volume are on buttons behind the steering wheel.
It has some Fiat details that haven't changed in the last 15 years, like the central buttons, or including the fog lights in the left panel. These last controls could have been included in the light lever, so you don't have to look for them with your eyes. Another detail that keeps catching my attention is that the on-board computer never measures less than 2 l/100 km (even if the consumption is zero).
In this car we will miss driving assistance beyond the stability control, there is nothing of the sort, nor the automatic braking in the city that the Fiat Panda has. The most technological sophistication is the Bluetooth phone, the TomTom 3D navigator or the multifunction screen on the dashboard. If you want something more, you have to go to another brand. On the other hand, there are plenty of people who couldn't care less.
However, the computer includes valuable information such as service intervals, battery voltage and tyre pressure sensor (TPMS). It also includes two memories (trip A and trip B), with range calculation and instantaneous consumption. Everything I'm talking about is not expected in a car with a price tag of 9,900 euros. Did I forget to say that even the central mirror has an anti-dazzle function in the second level of equipment?
I finish this part with the habitability. In the front I felt at ease, in a comfortable and sporty position, it didn't feel high off the ground at all. In the rear seats Fiat says that adults can fit up to 1.8 meters tall, that will be if they are bald. With 1.75 meters and toupee and almost rubs the roof, and in the central seat with 1.7 meters and rubs. Too bad, the backrest is not hard and there is more than enough width.
The whole transmits solidity and quality, there is no obvious flaw in the finish, you can even forget that it is made in Turkey. Even the sound insulation is surprisingly good when driving at speeds with loss of points on the highway, I expected it to make much more noise. The stereo in the second trim level sounds really good, it includes 220 watts spread over six speakers: two treble, two mid and two full-range.
All safety equipment comes standard, including all head restraints.
Climate control is single-zone, yes, but it's standard on the entry-level and Lounge trim levels. Air conditioning is always standard in the base trims. As I said, don't expect any luxuries in this car beyond the synthetic leather (which looks and feels great, by the way), but Fiat will offer higher-end versions if sales go well.
One last note about the boot: 520 litres of capacity is a lot, and for taxi drivers that's an important fact. The shapes are regular, it has a depth of 1.2 metres and is another metre wide. The tailgate doesn't have a classic mechanical opening, it can be opened with buttons (interior and remote control), it goes up and down smoothly. If you put your head inside the boot, you will find the cables tucked away, it is difficult to damage them, and the lid does not drop violently (it is as if it were not heavy).
Three engines to choose from, and familiar ones
Fiat continues to rely on the triad of engines we've seen for years: the eternal 1.4 Fire 16v (95 bhp) in petrol, and in diesel the 1.3 MultiJet (95 bhp) and the 1.6 MultiJet (120 bhp). An LPG version will arrive in November, obviously with the 1.4 Fire, and no turbo petrol engines are planned. There are no automatic gearboxes at the moment, but there will be in the future. The small diesel has five speeds, the other two have six.
Compared to previous generations of diesel engines, there is a design change in the injectors and anti-pollution systems. There is no technical solution not already seen. These are engines with a long commercial run, which in Fiat parlance means "reliable". Note that the 1.4 petrol engine is a naturally aspirated four-cylinder with multi-point injection. It's not state of the art, but at least it has its four cylinders, with all that that implies.
The 120bhp engine seems to me the better choice in the long run, although the additional outlay is significant.
The 1.6 MultiJet is a very good compromise between fuel consumption, performance and enjoyment. It delivers 320 Nm at 1750 RPM, which is what 140 hp turbodiesels used to deliver a few years ago. On a trip I have stepped on the car more, getting an average of 6 l/100 km, and in a short lap with the spirit of low consumption, I have rounded to 4 l/100 km. The homologation with this engine is 4.2 l/100 km, the 95 hp engine gets 4.1. In real life consumption will be very similar, and even the 1.6 can consume less.
Healthy behaviour and very easy to master at the limit
The Fiat Tipo has the usual C-segment solutions, such as the front axle with McPherson strut suspension and a torsion bar on the rear axle, by the way, without anti-roll bar. The 120 hp version has rear disc brakes, while the 95 hp version uses drum brakes. At least on the 120 hp diesel the brake pedal is quite sensitive, and braking is forceful. The tyres are Pirelli P7 Cinturato 225/45, in this case 17″.
At the limit the car tends to understeer, and the power steering will seem uninformative, but there are worse in this regard, and much more artificial touch. If for any reason we suffer an oversteer, I found it very easy to recover it, although I speak from professional deformation and after having taken courses to react in these situations. I even tried dry braking in a badly cambered roundabout with some humidity, in less than two seconds I was going straight.
The suspension is comfortable, but effective. If we consider a 1 to be maximum comfort and a 10 to be sporty tuning, I'd say it's in the 3-4 range. The rear axle has a somewhat more abrupt movement of expansion of the shock absorbers and springs, but it's quite normal. I think it's a good car for travelling, and for the type of customer it's going to have, I have nothing to reproach it for. Nothing.
In short, very good vibrations
In Italy this car has been on sale since December, and many more units have been sold than expected, almost 4,000 in that month. Let's keep in mind that yes, in Italy Fiat imposes a lot, but there the C sedan segment does not exist: the Toledo, Rapid (sedan), C-Elysee and 301 are not for sale. For the Spanish market there is a forecast of 2,500 to 3,500 units in all of 2016!
Maybe the sedan doesn't sell much in Spain, but the five-door body can have a lot of pull. For the classic nags that remind us of the mechanical problems that some Italian cars used to have more than 20-25 years ago, a four-year warranty or 100,000 kilometers is offered as standard and without conditions. The rest of the Fiat range will do the same this year. You have to open your mind to "Fiatbility".
The first 450 units are sold with the Opening Edition equipment and petrol engine for 10,900 euros (PIVE and financing), and the 120 hp diesel with Opening Edition+ finish, more complete, 5,000 euros more. When they are all sold, there will be two equipment lines, Easy and Lounge, which can be combined with the three engines without distinction. I have a very good feeling about this car, although Fiat in our country does not have the best consideration. The product is great, the price is very competitive, and is the kind of car that people demand: very complete, but without frills.