Making a comeback in an arena you were once a big player in is a difficult thing to do. Ghosts of the past hide around every corner, just ask Geri Halliwell. The Fiat Tipo once won European Car of the Year back in 1989 and now the Italian brand are not only bringing the nameplate back, but are also reentering the C-Segment of which they have been absent for some years. The question is… Does the 2016 Fiat Tipo have what it takes to tackle some fierce competition?
You have to hand it to Fiat, it is a looker! The 2016 Fiat Tipo draws attention with its subtle curves and intricate details. A double bubble roof makes this hatchback the most aerodynamic in its class whilst adding a unique design feature. Its chrome studded grill gives the badge a floating effect and a hint of premium character. Clean lines lead to a curvaceous rear that plays host to a neat boot spoiler. 17 inch alloy wheels donned our top specification car and in its ravishing red looked quite civilised.
The interior is a stylish affair with sculpted surfaces and metallic trim. Our test car features a 7 inch touchscreen infotainment display with an intuitive interface. However, we are told that this option will not be coming to the UK and instead British cars will receive an optional 5 inch display. There are some scratchy plastics to be found below the belt, but above are some pleasing landmarks pinched from other cars in the Fiat range. Clean dials teamed with a digital display provides good ergonomics as does the lack of clutter on the centre console. This interior feels spacious with rear occupants receiving plenty of head and leg room. A low transmission tunnel also means that the middle passenger isn’t fighting for foot space. A large 440 litre boot is impressive, but go for the Station Wagon and that grows to a vast 550 litres.
Powering this 2016 Fiat Tipo was a 1.6 litre diesel engine producing 118 BHP. Once on the move this unit is actually rather refined, as is the rest of the car with a lack of road and wind noise. Under load it can be a bit grumbly, although as mentioned this settles. It is a strong engine with easily accessible torque low in the rev range making it ideal for the motorway trawl. Taking the Tipo on some challenging sections of road reveals that this isn’t really a rival for the Ford Focus in terms of handling. It does present plenty of grip to be exploited, but it isn’t as sharp as the class leader. The focal point in the Fiat is one of comfort. Its ride manages to soak up lumps and bumps rather well whilst light steering makes it easy to drive through narrow winding Italian city streets. A city mode can further reduce the effort required for low speed manoeuvring. Its 6 speed manual transmission sports a good set of ratios for a multitude of environments. Moving onto faster motorway stretches, where this specification is likely to spend most of its time once arriving in the UK, the Fiat Tipo is perfectly pleasant with a substantial feeling of confidence. It was happy to hold its own with 120 BHP being enough to maintain a good pace without any fuss. When it comes to arriving at your destination rear visibility, thanks to a small window, could be better but this specific Tipo was aided by a reversing camera negating my gripe. This engine claims 76.3 MPG combined and emits 98g/km CO2.
The 2016 Fiat Tipo Hatchback might not be the most dynamic machine in its class, but it is a very good effort from the Italians considering the relentless competition and their time away from the C-segment. One final ace that the Tipo has to play is its price. Starting from £12,995 with a 1.4 litre petrol engine it significantly undercuts the likes of Ford’s Focus and gives the Kia Cee’d a run for its money. Mid spec cars have everything you might want in terms of equipment and cost from £13,995. Our top specification car with this 1.6 litre diesel engine costs £17,995. Both hatchback and estate goes on sale this September.