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 base model, but it does rather take the sheen off the value of the more expensive versions.
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. Perhaps Fiat has read our criticism, because the Cross now comes in a bright orange shade.
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 is getting on for £30,000, and it just doesn’t feel as special as other cars for the same money. In fact, some £20,000 cars are more appealing inside.
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 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.
The new City Life trim adds LED lights front and rear, alloy wheels, automatic air conditioning, a digital instrument display and traffic sign recognition. In truth, the traffic sign recognition isn’t as polished as the systems you get in rival cars, and in our Cross test car we found that what’s displayed on the dial cluster often contradicts what the sat-nav shows.
Besides sat-nav, Cross gets heated front seats, keyless entry and start and a reversing camera. As with Fiat’s previous Cross models, this version of the Tipo gets body cladding, roof rails and a raised driving position, even though it’s not available with four-wheel drive. The Tipo RED, a special edition based on the Cross, gets a host of exclusive design tweaks inside and out.
Fiat used to offer a wide range of options and accessories for the Tipo, so you could add extra features to lower-spec models. Now, though, the only options are paint colours (£550) or a full-size spare wheel for £300 - but you’ll get a reduction in storage space if you choose this. It’ll be worth picking if you don’t want to have to rely on a puncture repair kit, though.