FIAT TIPO 1.6I EASY AUTO

FIAT TIPO 1.6I EASY AUTO

In Flight Magazine - - IN THIS ISSUE - { TEXT: BERNARD K HELLBERG | IM­AGES © QUICKPIC }

BRAVELY VEN­TUR­ING INTO WHAT MUST BE RE­GARDED AS THE MOST COM­PET­I­TIVE SEG­MENT OF THE MO­TOR­ING MAR­KET – WHERE TOP SELL­ERS SUCH AS TOY­OTA’S COROLLA, HYUNDAI’S I30 AND THE KIA RIO RULE THE SALES CHARTS – FIAT CHRYSLER AU­TO­MO­BILES HAVE BEEN PIN­NING THEIR HOPES ON THEIR MID-RANGE TIPO TO RE-ES­TAB­LISH THE BRAND.

THE STYLING

Modern, in an in­of­fen­sive sort of way, the Tipo sports an ag­gres­sive frontal area and a com­pact rear end, with clean lines and a hatch­back de­sign which bril­liantly pro­vides ex­cel­lent rear lug­gage space de­spite a full size spare wheel. De­signed in Italy, the Tipo un­der­went ex­ten­sive devel­op­ment in Turkey (where it is built), log­ging 8.7 mil­lion kilo­me­tres un­der ex­treme con­di­tions. The end re­sult is a ro­bust fam­ily car that will cer­tainly be able to hold its own against its ri­vals.

STAND-OUT FEA­TURES

The Tipo of­fers sev­eral fea­tures which set it apart from the herd. En­try is key­less; the fog lamps are linked to the steer­ing, il­lu­mi­nat­ing cor­ners for added safety; and each wheel sports a disc brake. Even the tyres are top-qual­ity 205/55 R16 Goodyears which proved to be ad­e­quately grippy on wet or dry sur­faces dur­ing the test drive. Although I must con­fess that a set of Ital­ian­made Pirellis would have sent a more pa­tri­otic mes­sage than the Turk­ish-built Goodyears.

Apart from the pleas­ant sur­prise of the large lug­gage com­part­ment (for a hatch­back), buy­ers will also ap­pre­ci­ate the vast legroom at the rear, the height-ad­justable driver’s seat, and a bril­liant turn­ing cir­cle which should be more than use­ful in crowded ur­ban park­ing ar­eas.

THE POWER

At the heart of any good ve­hi­cle is a re­li­able en­gine, with de­cent per­for­mance thrown into the bar­gain. The Tipo’s 1.6-litre petrol ver­sion has fairly mod­est out­puts (81 kW and 152 Nm of torque at a fairly high 4,500 r/min), yet it man­ages to de­liver brisk ac­cel­er­a­tion through its six-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion. This pro­vided well-spaced ra­tios, but was not as smooth as the au­to­matic ‘boxes do­ing duty in Volk­swa­gens. The power unit it­self is ex­tremely light – point­ing to ad­vanced de­sign – and has graphite-coated pis­tons for re­duced friction and longevity.

LET’S GO IN­SIDE

Top-grade leather may be fine in ex­pen­sive and ex­otic cars, but the hard-wear­ing seat cov­ers in the Tipo should re­tain their qual­i­ties

for many years to come.The front seats are firm and fairly well shaped, while the rear seats also of­fer rea­son­able lev­els of com­fort and sup­port.

In or­der to jus­tify the ask­ing price of R294,900, the Fiat Tipo comes with hands-free Blue­tooth, au­to­matic air con­di­tion­ing, a re­verse cam­era, LED day­time run­ning lights, and a leather­cov­ered steer­ing wheel which adds to the sense of lux­ury.The sound sys­tem was a plea­sure to op­er­ate, and re­cep­tion was good. The Tipo also fea­tured USB ports, con­trols on the steer­ing wheel, and 60/40 split rear seats.

SAFETY

The Fiat Tipo is com­pre­hen­sively kit­ted out with ABS brakes, elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol, trac­tion con­trol, and what Fiat de­scribes as Panic Brake As­sist – for that wide-eyed mo­ment when the briskly mov­ing traf­fic ahead sud­denly comes to a stop. Nu­mer­ous airbags, for driver and front pas­sen­ger, as well as side and cur­tain airbags add yet another layer of safety to what is al­ready an ex­tremely safe car.

FI­NAL SAY

The Fiat Tipo 1.6 is not a hot hatch by any means, but a well-de­signed, at­trac­tive and sturdy con­tes­tant in the mid-range mar­ket seg­ment where com­pe­ti­tion is fierce and only the tough­est will sur­vive. De­spite mod­est sales in re­cent times, Fiat has a proud past and the Tipo may be that model which will in­crease mar­ket share for the com­pany to a sub­stan­tial de­gree.

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