Fiat Tipo hatchback
“If you’re after a small family hatchback that’s strong on value, practicality and standard equipment, then the Fiat Tipo could well be for you”
- Impressively practical
- Well equipped
- Good value
- Rivals are cheaper to run
- Suspect interior quality
- Not that great to drive
The Fiat Tipo is the Italian company’s contender in the competitive family hatchback class, so it’s a bit bigger than the Fiat 500 and Fiat Panda. It’s up against a huge array of new rivals, so has to fight hard in an incredibly tough class.
Among its rivals are such successful models as the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra, Renault Megane and SEAT Leon, while it also has to persuade customers away from value-conscious choices like the Kia Ceed, Hyundai i30, Citroen C4 Cactus and Skoda Scala. With superminis like the Renault Clio becoming increasingly practical, you might consider it a rival to the Tipo as well.
The value-heavy four above would seem to be the Fiat Tipo's most direct rivals; the entry-level Tipo starts at just over £15,500, a price that gets you a pretty impressive list of standard equipment considering it’s cheaper than a smaller Ford Fiesta. UK buyers aren’t offered the ultra-cheap model sold in some countries for the equivalent of less than £9,000, which would make an interesting alternative to a Dacia Sandero. The UK Tipo range is pretty straightforward: there are only a few trim levels and a fairly brief list of engine choices.
The Fiat Tipo is smart and businesslike on the outside. You could call it understated and elegant if you wanted to be kind, but there isn’t much in the way of charisma or imagination to its styling. Inside, the Tipo feels well put together, but the overall dashboard design is disappointingly short on style and looks rather dated against fresher rivals.
Better news is that interior space is generous, with an impressive amount of rear legroom – although the hatchback, unlike the estate, features a sloping roofline that compromises rear headroom slightly. The Tipo is a practical car, too, with 440 litres of space in the boot, plus an additional 12 litres in cubbyholes dotted around the interior.
The Tipo feels planted and safe on the road, but it can’t match rivals like the Focus or Leon for driver enjoyment. There’s noticeable body lean around corners, while the steering is overly light and doesn’t inspire confidence. Instead, the soft suspension does a pretty good job of insulating passengers from the shocks of potholes and broken tarmac.
Three engines are offered - two petrols and one diesel. The diesel is a 1.6-litre MultiJet with 118bhp, while the two petrols are both 1.4-litre units with outputs of 94bhp and 118bhp. If you want an automatic gearbox, you’ll need to choose the diesel as it’s the only model available with one.
You can choose from comfort-orientated Easy, stylish Mirror and high-spec Lounge trim levels, plus a couple of sporty-looking models. All are reasonably well equipped, with air-conditioning, cruise control, DAB radio and Bluetooth standard across the range. Mirror adds a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Lounge adds sat nav, climate control and a reversing camera. Street, S-Design and Sport all come with sportier looks, and the latter two are based on the Lounge trim so are well-specced.
We reckon the entry-level models offer the best value, though: top models compete on price with the more talented Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra and lose sight of the Tipo's central appeal – value for money.
Fiat finished a disappointing 23rd out of 30 manufacturers in our 2020 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey. The Tipo scored a slightly underwhelming three out of five stars when crash tested by Euro NCAP, though this score rose to four stars with the autonomous emergency braking system fitted. As this is standard on all UK cars, the Tipo is effectively a four-star car in the UK.