No-frills five-door Fiat

Sunday Sun - - News - JON SMITH

IT’S some­times nec­es­sary to speak the un­speak­able... some folk are NOT car nuts.

Yes, I know, it’s hard to con­ceive, but out there, peo­ple ex­ist who have lim­ited in­ter­est in mo­tor matters.

For them, a ve­hi­cle is purely a means to get from A to B. No amount of ban­ter about torque, un­der­steer or ac­cel­er­a­tion fig­ures will hold their in­ter­est.

They do, how­ever, need wheels and they are likely to pur­chase a prac­ti­cal, fam­ily-type model that per­forms its task safely and in­ex­pen­sively, is ca­pa­ble of car­ry­ing the nec­es­sary clut­ter and won’t bust the bank to buy.

One of the cars that could fea­ture on their wish list is the Fiat Tipo, an un­der­stated but ef­fi­cient five-door hatch with a price tag just north of £15,000, which makes it one of the best deals around. De­spite its un­pre­ten­tious ex­te­rior, a glance at the spec sheet shows it to be a pretty use­ful per­former, with 62mph com­ing up in 9.6 sec­onds and a max of 124mph. A few years ago these would have been hothatch stats, and even now they are im­pres­sive for a ‘non-sporty’ hatch.

And pas­sen­ger space is bet­ter than you’d imag­ine from a car is un­der 4.5 me­tres in length.

The lug­gage area, too, is roomy, with a 440-litre boot.

The low-pres­sure turbo 1.4-litre petrol en­gine pushes out 118bhp and of­fers more low-down punch than most ri­vals, mean­ing that lit­tle gearchang­ing is re­quired. All this helps to­wards a re­laxed gait and low noise lev­els.

The gear change is, in fact, one of the light­est and best around. Swap­ping cogs in the stan­dard six-speed box is fast and smooth. While the Tipo doesn’t try to be sporty, its han­dling is light and wieldy, with de­cent lev­els of cor­ner­ing and pleas­antly weighted steer­ing. It raises no protest at be­ing hur­ried along and can cover dis­tances swiftly and com­pe­tently.

De­spite the punchy per­for­mance, the petrol Tipo is light on the wal­let. My av­er­age was 45mpg and 50mpg is eas­ily pos­si­ble on long, gen­tle jour­neys. The cabin of­fers a rea­son­ably com­fort­able and prac­ti­cal en­vi­ron­ment. The mould­ings used for the fas­cia are black, soft-touch plas­tic but the doors get a less tac­tile cov­er­ing which isn’t so user friendly.

Front seats are wide enough but the back­rests are too flat and of­fer lit­tle sup­port. Space in the rear is am­ple.

The Tipo pro­vides low-cost, no-non­sense motoring for fam­i­lies who put prac­ti­cal­i­ties be­fore gim­micks.

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