Fiat Tipo hatchback - Interior & comfort
It’s easy to find your way around, but the Fiat Tipo lacks any sort of design flair inside
In place of the characterful design that has delighted in Fiats of the past, the new Fiat Tipo is a rather sober, businesslike affair and its theme of function-before-form continues inside. We can’t help but feel a little disappointed by this, especially since the Fiat 500 dashboard is so imaginatively and appealingly designed.
The interior environment is one of dark plastics and upholstery, brightened on higher-spec models by the occasional flash of chrome. It makes for a rather Germanic feel – perhaps a deliberate attempt to attract Volkswagen Golf customers – and like German cars, there are few apparent concerns about interior build quality. with everything feeling impressively well screwed together. It’s just a shame that it already seems a little dated, especially compared to rivals like the Vauxhall Astra and Skoda Scala.
It’s also a shame that the materials, which are so well assembled, feel so mismatched in their own right. There are soft-touch surfaces on the dashboard that feel very tactile and pleasant, but they contrast badly with harsher plastics elsewhere. The textures used also collect dirt, scratches and marks all too easily. None of this is particularly galling at the low prices asked by the Easy model, but it does rather take the sheen off the value of the more expensive Lounge version.
Comfort is definitely a Tipo strong suit. There's plenty of space everywhere and the driver’s seat has lots of adjustment, so it’s easy enough to get comfortable. The Tipo’s ride quality is actually very good, seeming particularly in tune with poor UK road surfaces. Wind noise is also very well muted at speed.
In keeping with the somewhat drab interior, the Tipo also comes in a rather sombre range of paint colours, presumably meant to appear upmarket and mature. A dull-looking red is the brightest colour, but elsewhere the grey, brown and blue paint options do little to lift the Tipo’s worthy but unexciting appearance.
Fiat Tipo dashboard
All the controls are reasonably well laid-out and the instruments are easy to read, but as we mention above, design (or lack thereof) is the issue. The Tipo is a cheap car, of course, so you don’t expect it to be the last word in chic. But the most expensive model in the range costs over £20,000, and it just doesn’t feel as special as other cars for the same money.
Things start to look rather more positive for the Tipo when you look at the list of standard equipment. All models are pretty well equipped, with entry-level Easy models coming with Bluetooth, DAB radio and USB connectivity standard across the range. There are also electric windows at the front, as well as remote central locking, air conditioning, cruise control and audio controls on the steering wheel.
Street, added in 2018, is a sporty-looking trim perhaps aimed at young drivers, as it’s cheap to buy and only comes with the lowest-powered engine. You get 16-inch alloy wheels painted black (like the door mirrors), LED daytime running lights, tinted rear windows and other black exterior trim.
Mid-range Mirror aims to feel much more upmarket than the cheaper models, with chrome touches and diamond-cut alloy wheels. It also gets Fiat’s seven-inch Uconnect touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus rear parking sensors and rear electric windows.
Upgrading to Lounge adds sat nav and a reversing camera display to the screen, plus automatic climate control, auto wipers and lights, 17-inch alloys and heated mirrors. However, the Lounge really doesn’t seem to make much of a case for itself – its small sat-nav screen is easily outclassed by any modern smartphone or aftermarket GPS unit, let alone the systems offered by the more fun to drive, more interesting to look at Vauxhall Astra and Ford Focus.
S-Design and Sport come with these features and add sporty bodykits and 18-inch alloy wheels. Sport gives you bigger spoilers and bi-xenon headlights, but it’s expensive at over £20,000.
Each trim level comes with its own list of options, most of which are pretty reasonably priced, but none of which are strictly necessary. Entry-level Easy models can be fitted with alloy wheels that look good, along with items such as heated seats, parking sensors and the like. The seven-inch touchscreen is standard on Mirror models, but adding sat nav costs another £250. If you’ve got a decent modern smartphone or a portable GPS unit, we’d question whether the factory system is worthwhile.
Those choosing the Lounge model might as well go the whole hog and add heated leather front seats for another £900 in a bid to make the interior more interesting and luxurious. However, it’s worth noting that adding lots of options won’t hugely improve the car’s resale value, which is pretty poor compared to rivals.