New-look Tipo shows some brio on sat­nav mag­i­cal mys­tery tour

Yorkshire Post - Motoring - - MOTORING - Frederic Manby Road test RE­GIONAL AU­TO­MO­TIVE JOUR­NAL­IST OF THE YEAR

FIAT HAS re­launched its Tipo hatch­back and es­tate with a com­plete make-over, at prices which may make you swerve away from ri­vals like the Fo­cus and As­tra and Qashqai and give a much-needed boost to UK sales. In the last 11 months they fell 5.6 per cent to drop be­low 57,000.

Prices for the five-door hatch be­gin at £12,995 for the 94bhp 1.4 petrol in Easy trim, with a 94bhp high torque 1.3 diesel from £14,995. The petrol is rated at 50mpg and 132g, with a 0-62mph time of 12.1 sec­onds. The diesel sta­tis­tics are 76mpg, 99g and 12 sec­onds.

These prices bring air con­di­tion­ing, 15 inch steel wheels, re­mote lock­ing, DAB ra­dio, front power win­dows, Blue­tooth ready. The sta­tion wagon (es­tate) adds rear elec­tric win­dows and roof bars and costs only £1,000 more - giv­ing ex­tra load space in a longer body.

Move to the Easy Plus range (from £13,995 for the en­try petrol) and as well as more kit (touch­screen con­nec­tiv­ity with your phone, mu­sic stream­ing, 16 inch al­loys, rear park­ing bleep­ers, cruise con­trol) there is a choice of more pow­er­ful petrol and diesel en­gines and au­to­matic trans­mis­sion for both.

The Lounge range (from £14,995) brings nav­i­ga­tion, cli­mate con­trol, 17 inch wheels, au­to­matic lights and wipers, rear cam­era.

This is a smart looker, de­signed at Fiat HQ in Turin and de­vel­oped and built in Turkey at Bursa. More cars than you re­alise are built in Turkey.

So much for the con­tent and cre­ation. On test was the sta­tion wagon in Lounge spec with the 118bhp 1.6 “mul­ti­jet” diesel en­gine which de­vel­ops 236 lb ft of torque – that’s a lot for a mid-size car and gives good in-gear re­sponse. With man­ual gears it is rated at 0-62 in 10.1 sec­onds and a com­bined econ­omy of 76.3mpg and 98g – the lat­ter mean­ing no UK road tax and good tax off­set for busi­ness use. The price is £18,995. “Min­i­mal” grey metal­lic paint added £550. It did not have the safety packs. I did not crash.

If you live in the world of quiet diesel power you will get a jolt. The Tipo’s 1.3 oiler is rorty with a sporty note – but re­mains smooth. This was ap­peal­ing. The car is, af­ter all, Ital­ian and they like brio. How they man­age to find any­where us­ing the nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem is a mys­tery. I take the ap­proach that a nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem should be in­tu­itive, with­out hav­ing to use the hand­book.

Even us­ing the hand­book I was no wiser. The short en­try for nav­i­ga­tion (by Tom­Tom) tells you lit­tle that you can’t see on the screen – and then not much more. Some­how, I did get one ad­dress in but couldn’t re­peat the trick.

The interior of the Tipo is oth­er­wise fine, no drama, quite func­tional. The in­for­ma­tion touch­screen is smaller than many and looks dated. The rear seats can be folded al­most flat, or com­pletely flat if you pull up the hinged bases and stack them up­right against the front seats. There is no re­mote trig­ger to do this in­side the tail­gate but that’s not un­usual. The load area is large and long, and has use­ful side pock­ets for boots, boxes of eggs, your choice.

The car drives nicely and I en­joyed us­ing it. The ride com­fort is ad­e­quate – quiet enough, with some firm­ness over bumps in­trud­ing, when un­loaded.

The fuel con­sump­tion was so-so, av­er­ag­ing around 50 miles a gal­lon most of the time. Trips in­cluded a reg­u­lar 45-miler us­ing A, B roads and mo­tor­ways. An­other coun­try route gave the same re­sult. This is 10mpg lower than even the ur­ban fig­ure in the hand­book.

Fiat has taken the de­ci­sion to make a safety pack an op­tion at ex­tra cost. It brings a speed lim­iter and au­to­matic emer­gency brak­ing for £250. The stan­dard Tipo is rated at just three stars in the EuroN­cap crash safety rat­ings. With the Safety Pack it gets four stars but the ab­sence of pedes­trian avoid­ance is a rea­son it did not get the top five star rat­ing. EuroN­cap’s Michiel van Ratin­gen notes: “The Tipo is mar­keted as a func­tional car which max­imises value for money. How­ever, to max­imise safety, and to bring the car up to the pro­tec­tion lev­els of­fered by its big­gest ri­vals in this seg­ment, con­sumers should not pass over the safety pack.”

Com­pared with con­tem­po­raries like the Kia Niro and lat­est Peu­geot 3008 and Re­nault Scenic its de­tail scores are lower, par­tic­u­larly child pas­sen­ger pro­tec­tion, rated at 60 per cent. The Nero rat­ing is 80pc, the 3008 is 85pc and the Scenic is 82pc.

Fiat’s Tipo gets a com­plete makeover, with com­pet­i­tive pric­ing to com­ple­ment the smart looks and com­fort­able ride. How­ever, some safety fea­tures come as an ex­tra cost.

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