Last Spring, the Fiat Tipo received a new front end. Refreshing it should allow it to remain successful. The Tipo is currently without direct competitors. Its keen pricing is in line with FIAT’s tradition, delivering great value for money. However, there’s a new sexier version in the range…
The Tipo range was launched back in 2017. It’s now finally getting some welcome improvements. The front bumper is new, the grille proudly displays the new Fiat logo and LED headlights are now standard across the range. All this is enough to rejuvenate a car which is still available as a 4 door saloon, 5-door hatch as well as an estate. The new Cross version is based on the 5-door hatch but it appears to be more adventurous. It gets roof rails, a unique front bumper with a grey skid plate, black sills and wheel arches covers as well as a 37 mm higher ground clearance as standard.
This is hardly life-changing and from inside the car, feelings are exactly the same as what we found when we tested the estate car earlier on. Inside, the top of the range revised Tipo now features two 7-inch digital screens: one for the instrument cluster and the other welcomes the multimedia system. Obviously, this is a far cry from some other systems. However, to be fair, the Tipo is much more affordable. In other words, the 2021 Tipo is even more attractive.
The revised version also gets standard cruise control, a light-sensitive rear-view mirror, satnav, fog lights and 17-inch alloy wheels. The Cross gets bespoke upholstery but in both cases the driving position is perfect. A while back, we used a Tipo to go on holydays and I can assure you the front seats basic design doesn’t mean long journeys are painful, quite the contrary. Three engines are on the menu: a petrol one as well as two derv-drinkers. Unfortunately, both tested cars featured the tiny 999cc 3-cylinder petrol lump. This engine works wonders under the little 500’s bonnet, but it really struggles in the Tipo body. Displaying just 190 Nm of torque, keeping a decent pace requires constant use of the 5-speed manual gearbox.
We can only advise you to choose one of the two MultiJet diesel engines. The 1.3 one develops 95 bhp and a 200 Nm torque. This one is only available with a 5-speed manual gearbox while the 1.6 makes do with 130 bhp and a 320 Nm torque and is mated to a 6-speed automatic box. However, let’s go back to our two contenders and let’s try to separate them in terms of driving pleasure and comfort. Soundproofing is pretty good and both are a pleasant main road drive. Motorways are not a problem, despite the engine’s modest power (100 bhp). The suspension is perfectly tuned and you’ll even enjoy taking some curves at sustained pace. However, the steering is the snag : it’s a bit on the light and artificial side and won’t seduce a dynamic driver.
Finally, if you feel like venturing onto back roads, the Tipo Cross will do the job honestly but it won’t be a real cross-country car. The trouble is, the station wagon we tested in the wake of the Tipo Cross displays the same qualities while offering more cargo space. Therefore, it is easily the better all-rounder of the pair. It is an honest car that offers a lot for not so much money. Other brands often add expensive and useless equipment to their cars but it’s not the case here. However, don’t be mistaken : both Tipos ( SW and Cross) feature a lot of safety equipment and the lane departure warning even managed to annoy us (fortunately, it can be easily switched off) but there are no useless electronic gizmos here.
The station wagon could do with a few more horsepower and torque, but the small 1.0 FireFly engine delivers most of the time. On top of that, it’s even frugal as we averaged 6.5 l/100 km during our 400 km test drive. The icing on the cake? The Tipo RRPs… Fiat plays the “low cost” card, just like Dacia. The range cheapest model is the 1.0 saloon, offered at €17,050, while the estate with the 1.6 MultiJet costs €25,250. The Cross costs €2,000 more than its 5-door counterpart… a small price to pay to be trendy. FIAT is synonymous with bargain! (Translation: Dimitri Urbain)