New Fiat Tipo Station Wagon estate 2016 review
We drive the refined and comfortable family estate version of the Fiat Tipo - can it keep up with more accomplished rivals?
The Fiat Tipo makes more sense as an estate, as it offers loads of space for the money; both in the boot and inside the cabin. It’s a little noisier on the move than the hatch, but otherwise drives very similarly, which means it’s refined and comfortable - if a little dull. It’s a bit expensive, though, putting it closer on paper to much more accomplished rivals.
While we won’t be getting the new Fiat Tipo saloon in the UK, buyers will have a choice between the hatchback model and the Station Wagon (estate) version driven here. It gets all the same engine and transmission choices, and costs £1,000 more than an equivalent hatch.
The top-selling engine is likely to be this 1.6-litre diesel with 118bhp, which also takes the title as our pick of the range. The 1.4-litre turbo petrol is a decent unit, and it’s quieter than the diesel, but the 1.6’s emissions of 98g/km and 76.3mpg fuel economy are key for a car like this – especially as it has the performance to back it up.
Of course the most important part of the Tipo estate is practicality. The hatch is already a practical choice, and this version only adds to that. There’s 550 litres of space in the boot, which is 110 litres more than the hatch and 10 litres more than the pricier Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer. It’s a well-shaped load bay, with a useful storage compartment below the floor and two pockets at the sides. You can remove the separators to add extra space for larger items too.
The rear seats fold down flat, and you can fit items up to 1.8m long in the back, thanks to a body that’s 20cm longer than the hatchback. The extra space also translates to more headroom in the back seats, as the roof doesn’t slope down over the passengers’ heads. There’s still plenty of legroom back there, too.
Standard equipment includes electric windows all round, roof bars, DAB radio, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, steering wheel media controls and split-folding rear seats. Our mid-spec car also featured a touchscreen infotainment system, 16-inch alloy wheels, parking sensors and cruise control.
Just like the hatch, it’s the strong kit list that’s the Tipo’s saving grace against rivals like the Vauxhall Astra - which is better to drive, more upmarket, better looking and nearly as practical. You can buy a 1.6-litre diesel Astra ST (albeit with a little less power) for only a few hundred pounds more - and we reckon it’s worth the extra.
Still, go for a lower-spec car and there’s no doubt that the Tipo is very practical for the price. It’s not bad to drive, with a comfortable and refined manner, but the numb steering, excessive body roll and high driving position remove any feeling of sportiness. Many buyers won’t mind that, though.
What they might mind is the old fashioned-looking interior. It feels well put together, but the patterned plastic and seats mean it doesn’t feel like a new car ought to - especially for nearly £18,000. The layout is simple and easy to use, but has no flair and we’d expect better from Fiat – as its other cars are much more quirky both inside and out.