FIAT TIPO 1.6I EASY AUTO
FIAT TIPO 1.6I EASY AUTO
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.