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REVERTING TO TYPE (some text hidden)
By Jonathan Crouch
Fiat reverted to the 'Tipo' badge for its family hatch contender, that name being Italian for 'type'. So what type of Focus-class rival is this? We're told to expect space, economy and value pricing. Sounds promising. Jonathan Crouch looks at what's on offer.
Ten Second Reviewword count: 64
Fiat's entrant in the family hatch segment is this car, the Tipo. Smartly styled in Italy and developed and built in Turkey, it looks a much more credible contender than anything the Italian brand has brought us in this class for decades. UK buyers get a choice of petrol engines and a frugal diesel, plus hatch, saloon and estate bodystyles that are exceptionally spacious.
Backgroundword count: 152
Fiat has never managed to crack the Focus-sized family hatchback sector. Over the last few decades we've had a succession of models - the Bravo and Brava twins, the Stilo, and, most recently, another Bravo line-up. None of them made any real impact on folk much more likely to either buy Ford's best seller or the latest versions of Vauxhall's Astra or Volkswagen's Golf. In recent years, it looked as if Fiat might be abandoning this traditional market segment in favour of more specialised Crossover models like their 500X. But cars like that still sell in something of a niche, so the Italian brand has, once more, turned it's hand to creating a conventional contender in this class. Arguably the last time the brand was truly competitive here was with its Tipo family hatch, which sold between 1988 and 1995. It's appropriate then, that this current model also wears a 'Tipo' badge.
Driving Experienceword count: 231
The smart styling won't disguise the fact that this is unlikely to be the sharpest handling car in its sector, but we reckon it's close enough to the class leaders to satisfy most potential buyers. The engine range includes two petrol options. Most Tipos will be ordered with a 1.4-litre 16v powerplant producing 95hp and 125Nm. Avoid the Saloon and you'll also be offered an alternative 1.4 T-Jet turbo petrol variant with 120hp and 206Nm. If you want the single diesel unit - a 1.6-litre MultiJet II with an output of 120hp and 320Nm - you'll need the SW estate or the hatch. All units come with manual transmission. The Tipo's roadgoing demeanour has been set up to favour relaxed comfort rather than any kind of dynamic drive. You can see why: this is, after all, a car designed primarily around the needs of buyers in developing countries who simply want to get comfortably from A to B. So there's no trick suspension for fancy ride quality, torque vectoring for classy cornering or ridiculously powerful engine options that hardly anyone will buy. Where Turin has had modern carry-over technology it can use - the engines, the modular platform, the Uconnect infotainment technology - then that's been thrown into the development mix, but the over-riding priority here has been in the creation of the best possible car for the lowest possible price.
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Category: Compact Family Cars
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