Fiat Tipo Station Wagon estate
"The Fiat Tipo Station Wagon is a practical, spacious and generously equipped family estate car, let down by an uninspiring engine range and dull driving experience"
- Entry-level models offer good value
- Generous standard equipment
- Larger boot than most rivals
- Dated-feeling interior
- Uninspiring driving experience
- Less of a bargain with better engines
Like its hatchback sibling, the Fiat Tipo Station Wagon estate is an affordable, comfortable and sensible family car. It’s by no means the last word in driver appeal or stylish looks, but the Tipo Station Wagon is a competent car with a larger boot than many of its rivals. As long as you’re happy shelling out an extra £1,000, the Tipo estate actually makes more sense than the hatchback, thanks to the added space and practicality it offers. If you’re thinking of buying a Ford Focus Estate, Renault Megane Sport Tourer or SEAT Leon ST estate, it’s well worth giving the Tipo Station Wagon a look – partly because the entry-level model is significantly cheaper than almost all of its rivals.
The Tipo Station Wagon does require you to make a few sacrifices, though. Noticeable body lean when cornering discourages keen driving, while the interior feels solidly built, but has a dated air about it. These compromises are by no means disastrous, but they do make the Tipo estate a less appealing car than rivals from Ford and Renault.
Fiat offers a choice of three petrol engines and two diesels with the Tipo Station Wagon. If you’re happy with the basic 94bhp petrol (including a relaxed 0-62mph time of 12.6 seconds and relatively poor fuel economy), then the entry-level model offers strong value for money and is pretty well equipped. All cars come with air-conditioning, DAB radio, Bluetooth phone connectivity, cruise control, split-folding rear seats, power-adjustable wing mirrors and remote central locking.
While the equipment list makes an entry-level Tipo Station Wagon appealing, many buyers will like the additional power and improved economy of a diesel engine. The 1.6-litre diesel is the only one to choose (an underpowered 1.3-litre diesel was previously offered), but if you specify this, the Tipo becomes less keenly priced and less attractive as a result.
MPG, running costs & CO2
While the Tipo Station Wagon’s engines are unlikely to break the bank, it’s disappointing to see that neither of the petrols are capable of achieving even 40mpg. The entry-level 94bhp 1.4-litre petrol is the most economical, achieving 37.2mpg, but its CO2 emissions of 132g/km place it in a high band for company-car tax. The 118bhp turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol brings improved performance, and fuel consumption only drops to 36.7mpg. However, a 124bhp Ford Focus Estate achieves 50.4mpg, so the Tipo might not work out as cheap to run as you might have imagined. Road tax for all models costs £150 from the second year onwards.
You’ll need the 1.6-litre 118bhp diesel engine to get 50mpg, and it’s the best choice for company-car drivers - although rivals are more economical. Similarly powered diesel engines in other cars tend to reach at least 55mpg, and some get over 60mpg. Speccing a diesel engine on the Tipo also sees prices rise quite sharply.
Engines, drive & performance
If you’re happy with family estate that prioritises comfort over driver enjoyment, the Tipo Station Wagon is definitely worth a look. Although it’s 20cm longer than the hatchback, the Tipo Station Wagon doesn’t feel unwieldy around town, so parking is simple – although like all estate cars, it’s a good idea to fit rear parking sensors to take some of the stress out of reversing.
The soft suspension means you’re well insulated from potholes and poor surfaces, although this results in excessive body lean, which develops noticeably when cornering. The steering is also unimpressive, providing little feedback through the wheel and making it hard to judge how much grip the front wheels have. The Tipo Station Wagon always feels secure on the road, but if you want to press on, you’ll be discouraged from doing so by the steering and suspension.
It’s a similar story with performance: the Tipo Station Wagon’s engines have an adequate amount of power, but there’s no stand-out performer; the estate is also slightly slower than the equivalent hatchback with the same engine.
The 94bhp 1.4-litre petrol goes from 0-62mph in 12.6 seconds, with the more modern turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol managing the same in 10.1 seconds. The diesels aren’t any quicker: the 1.6-litre diesel gets the Tipo estate from 0-62mph in 10.3 seconds, or 11.2 seconds if you choose the automatic gearbox.
Interior & comfort
Climb inside the Tipo Station Wagon and you’ll find a simple and easy-to-use dashboard, which is solidly built and features plenty of equipment. It does feel somewhat dated though, with scratchy plastics, old-fashioned fabric patterns and a slightly drab overall design. Considering the flair and élan of the Fiat 500 city car’s dashboard, it’s disappointing to see more of an effort wasn’t made to give the Tipo’s interior greater appeal.
To keep things simple, Fiat offers the Tipo Station Wagon in three trim levels. All cars come with DAB radio, USB and Bluetooth phone connectivity, air-conditioning, cruise control and remote central locking. Mid-range Mirror models add a few styling touches and a seven-inch Uconnect touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a range of online services.
The mid-range trim also adds a leather steering wheel, 16-inch alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, LED daytime running lights and electric rear windows. For about £1,250 more than the basic car, this is a generous amount of equipment. Spending a further £750 gets you a top-spec Lounge model, which comes with sat nav, 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic lights and wipers, a reversing camera and climate control. In truth, the mid-range car has all the equipment you’re likely to need and if you want to add individual options, these are reasonably priced.
Practicality & boot space
While the Tipo Station Wagon feels somewhat dowdy inside, there’s no denying it’s spacious and practical. The extra luggage space of the estate over the hatchback adds to this version’s appeal, while rear-seat passengers also get more headroom, as the Station Wagon does without the sloping roof of the hatchback. All passengers get plenty of legroom and, while it’s not an exciting place to sit, the Tipo is comfortable and light inside
The 550-litre boot also impresses: it’s larger than what you get in most of the Tipo Station Wagon’s rivals, including the Renault Megane Sport Tourer estate. Split-folding rear seats are standard, and while they don’t fold totally flat, the seat bases can be folded forward to create a flat load bay – although many manufacturers manage to offer this feature without requiring you to move the bases. The Station Wagon also gets extra storage compartments under the floor and in the sides of the boot, as well as some useful bag hooks and four load-retaining brackets.
Reliability & safety
Fiat hasn’t had much to cheer about in our Driver Power owner satisfaction surveys in recent years. A 15th place finish in our 30-strong manufacturer list in 2019 was the highest the brand has been for a number of years, and in 2020 it has dropped eight places. However, that’s above Ford and Vauxhall, and several premium brands.
The Tipo shares many of its mechanical components with the 500L people carrier, which came 106th out of 150 cars in our 2016 survey. What we can say is that the Tipo Station Wagon feels built to last, while its relative mechanical simplicity should help dependability.
The Fiat Tipo hatchback has been tested by Euro NCAP, and its four-star score applies to the estate too. Some Tipos get a three-star rating in other countries, but all UK models get autonomous emergency braking fitted as standard - and the higher score as a result. Mandatory safety equipment like electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes and ISOFIX points for child seats are obviously all present and correct, too, but it would’ve been nice if some of the optional safety equipment was standard.