Car group tests

Fiat Tipo vs Skoda Rapid vs Citroen C4

Fiat has revived its Tipo as a value-focused family car. Can it beat similarly priced rivals from Skoda and Citroen?

Fiat has history when it comes to making affordable cars. Its original 500 was a cheap city car for the masses, and while this iconic model has been pushed upmarket and achieved fashion accessory status over recent years, spawning more expensive variants like the 500X crossover, the brand has now gone back to its roots with its latest car.

It’s called the Tipo, and revives a nameplate that hasn’t been used for two decades. The new family hatch has a focus on value, and even the top-spec Lounge trim with Fiat’s 1.6-litre turbodiesel engine we’ve lined up here comes in at a reasonable £17,995, so its cut-price contenders have their work cut out. However, the Skoda Rapid is a potential thorn in the Tipo’s side, as it serves up even more practicality and similar performance for just £365 more.

Alfa Romeo Giulietta vs SEAT Leon vs Kia Cee'd

It’s not just Italy that’s had a strong hold on this sector of the market in the past, though, as French manufacturers have traditionally offered competitivealternatives. The same is true today, as the Citroen C4 is another no-frillsoffering – and with the firm’s strong 1.6-litre diesel under the bonnet, it promises the same level of power but even lower CO2.

The Citroen is more expensive than the Tipo in top-spec trim, but where running costs count, could the C4 pull off a surprise victory? 

Head to head

Tech

Affordable family hatchbacks don’t generally feature lots of tech, but these three offer some surprises. The Tipo gets Fiat’s Live Services that let you stream media; Skoda’s SmartGate and SmartLink boost connectivity with your mobile device. Citroen’s MirrorLink is similar to the Skoda, but the car-to-phone interface lags behind.

Value

What you get for your cash is a big factor, and it’s the Fiat that succeeds. The Tipo is the only car with sat-nav as standard, plus it offers climate control, DAB and parking sensors – all features you pay for in the Skoda. The Citroen gets some of the kit, but loses out to the Tipo elsewhere.

Running costs

The overall cost of ownership will be key to potential buyers, and it’s the Fiat that comes out on top again. It’s cheaper to buy, cheapest on finance, is likely to depreciate the least, is the most cost effective for business users and will cost the least to insure.

Results

First place: Fiat Tipo

The Tipo is the best rounded budget hatch here. Although it loses out to the Rapid on ultimate boot space, it offers more than enough practicality for most situations, while the strong engine and comfortable chassis make it an acceptable family five-door to live with. However, it’s the Fiat’s thrifty running costs that seal the victory in this test.

Second place: Skoda Rapid

Although the Rapid is slightly more expensive to buy than the Tipo, you’ll have less to show for it. As a result, evening up the spec will send the cost even higher, widening the gap to the Tipo. It won’t be quite as cheap to run, and although it rides nicely, the less powerful engine means it won’t be as relaxed to drive as the Fiat.

Third place: Citroen C4

Even compared with the budget competition here, the C4 is well outclassed. It feels like an old car – partly because it is, and partly because the 2015 facelift didn’t do enough to bring it back into contention. It’s also not as practical as its rivals, plus it’s too expensiveand will lose more money. As running costs are key, the C4 finishes last.

Also consider

New: Kia Cee’d '2' 1.6 CRDi

Alfa Romeo Giulietta vs SEAT Leon vs Kia Cee'd - Cee'd front tracking

Price: £19,095 Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl, 134bhp

The Kia Cee’d offers more power than the Tipo, but this comes at a price, as it’s £1,100 more expensive. The 380-litre boot means it’s also down on space, while this budget will only get you a ‘2’ spec car, so you don’t get as much kit as the Fiat, either.

Used: VW Golf 2.0 TDI Match

VW Golf Match

Price: £17,000 Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 148bhp

For around £1,000 less than a new Fiat you could have a nearly new Golf with 3,000 miles. The VW has more power and plenty of kit in Match trim, with adaptive cruise and autonomous braking. The 380-litre boot is a decent size, too.

Facts and figures

 Fiat Tipo 1.6 MultiJet LoungeSkoda Rapid 1.6 TDI SECitroen C4 Flair 1.6 BlueHDi 120
On-the-road price/total as tested£17,995/£19,045£18,360/£21,340£19,950/£20,540
Residual value (after 3yrs/30,000)£7,126/39.6%£7,344/40.0%£6,125/30.7%
Depreciation£10,869£11,016£13,825
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£682/£1,363£696/£1,391£756/£1,512
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£1,121/£1,868£1,226/£2,043£1,065/£1,775
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost15/£629/A/£017/£735/A/£024/£642/A/£0
Servicing costs£16 per month£279 (2yrs/20k)£400 (3yrs/35k)
    
Length/wheelbase4,638/2,638mm4,483/2,602mm4,329/2,608mm
Height/width1,495/1,792mm1,461/1,706mm1,489/1,789mm
Engine4cyl in-line/1,598cc4cyl in-line/1,596cc4cyl in-line/1,560cc
Peak power 118/3,750 bhp/rpm113/3,500 bhp/rpm118/3,500 bhp/rpm
Peak torque 320/1,750 Nm/rpm250/1,500 Nm/rpm300/1,750 Nm/rpm
Transmission 6-spd man/fwd5-spd man/fwd6-spd man/fwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel50 litres/space saver55 litres/repair kit60 litres/repair kit
Boot capacity (seats up/down) 440 litres/N/A550/1,490 litres380/1,300 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight1,370/500/1,200kg1,205/535/1,200kg1,280/580/1,550kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient10.9 metres/N/A10.2 metres/0.30Cd10.7 metres/N/A
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (unltd)/3yrs3yrs (60,000)/3yrs3yrs (60,000)/1yr
Service intervals/UK dealers18,000 miles (1yr)/96Variable/135 16,000 (1yr)/196
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.32nd/6th3rd/15th26th/18th
NCAP: Adult/child/ped./assist/pointsN/A94/80/69/71/5 (2012)90/85/43/97/5 (2010)
    
0-60/30-70mph9.4/9.3 secs9.4/8.5 secs9.6/9.1 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th 3.3/4.5 secs4.2/8.0 secs3.8/6.8 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th 6.2/7.6 secs10.0 secs/N/A8.1/11.1 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph 124mph/2,000rpm125mph/2,000rpm122mph/1,750rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph 48.4/32.1/9.5m48.3/32.5/8.3m62.4/39.1/9.9m
Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph75/53/65/72dB74/54/65/73dB77/55/63/71dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range55.8/12.3/614 miles51.0/11.2/617 miles58.7/12.9/775 miles 
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined w64.2/85.6/76.3mpg62.8/85.6/74.3mpg67.3/85.6/78.5mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 14.1/18.8/16.8mpl13.8/18.8/16.3mpl14.8/18.8/17.3mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket136/98g/km/19%148/99g/km/19%129/95g/km/19%
    
Airbags/Isofix/park sensors/cameraSix/yes/yes/yesSix/yes/£380/£230Six/yes/yes/no
 Auto box/stability/cruise ctrl/AEB*£1,000/yes/yes/£500**No/yes/yes/£315£1,200/yes/yes/no
Climate control/leather/heated seatsYes/no/no£440/no/£250Yes/no/no
Metallic paint/xenons/keyless go£550/no/no£535/£500/£340£525/no/£300
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/BluetoothYes/yes/yes/yes£575/yes/£100/yes£590/yes/yes/yes

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