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In-depth reviews

Fiat Tipo hatchback - Engines, drive & performance

Comfort rather than sportiness is the top priority with the Fiat Tipo

Carbuyer Rating

3.6 out of 5

Owners Rating
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Engines, drive & performance Rating

3.0 out of 5

The Fiat Tipo is an acceptable car to drive, if rather lacking some of the verve we’ve seen from other models in the Fiat stable. The steering doesn't offer a lot of feel, but is quite nicely weighted and the Tipo has plenty of grip for fast cornering. The suspension is on the soft side and this results in noticeable body lean in corners. However, it does allow a reasonably comfortable ride. It can be a little bouncy over heavily rutted roads, but it never feels harsh.

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If you’re after a truly entertaining drive from your small family hatchback, then you might want to look at the Ford Focus, Mazda3 or SEAT Leon, each of which display more skill in balancing ride quality and handling prowess.

Petrol engines

There are two petrol units to choose from: a 1.0-litre engine with 99bhp and a 128bhp 1.3-litre motor that features mild-hybrid electrical assistance. The former achieves 0-62mph in 12.2 seconds, which looks fairly average on paper, but its three-cylinder layout means that it should produce a pleasing buzzy sound when you accelerate. A five-speed manual gearbox is the only choice.

Fiat now has access to a 1.3-litre mild-hybrid petrol engine with 128bhp and an extra cylinder compared to the smaller unit. Fitted to the Tipo and Fiat 500X, it features a small electric starter-generator and a seven-speed automatic gearbox. The electric motor allows you to creep forwards and park without using the petrol engine - as long as you’re gentle with the throttle - but in normal driving the Tipo feels like a normal petrol car.

It doesn’t feel quite as quick as its nine-second 0-62mph time suggests, largely because the automatic gearbox is slow to react. The engine is also noisier than we’d like at low speeds, although it does settle down on the motorway.

The Tipo used to come with a 94bhp 1.4-litre petrol and a turbocharged version managing 118bhp. Both of the 1.4-litres are only available with a six-speed manual gearbox.

Fiat Tipo diesel engines

The 118bhp 1.6-litre diesel was fine and reasonably economical but Fiat’s newer petrol engines will be a better match for many drivers. The diesel’s 10.1-second 0-62mph time is quick enough and it pulls well in pretty much any gear thanks to its flexible power delivery, although the power does drop off sharply at higher revs. The only real negative with this engine is how noisy it is when you accelerate. Above 2,500rpm (when merging with busy dual-carriageway traffic or making swift progress up a steep hill, for example) it gets very rattly and feels like a lot is being asked of it.

Fortunately, the din fades into the background when it’s allowed to relax at cruising speeds. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard on this car and it’s easy – if not particularly satisfying – to use. Alternatively you could choose Fiat’s six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

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