Fiat Tipo review - Engines, performance and drive
The strong diesels and quiet petrols are good units, but the Tipo isn’t as much fun to drive as some rivals
On the move, the Fiat Tipo has a relaxed feel, with soft suspension and a comfortable driving position adding up to a smooth driving experience.
As a result of that comfort-focused softness, the Fiat loses out when it comes to the driving experience. The car rolls quite a bit as you take a turn quickly, and while the steering doesn’t have a lot of feel, it’s weighted well enough, and there’s plenty of grip. It’s not a bad car to drive, but the Vauxhall Astra and Ford Focus put it to shame, unfortunately. The Astra is just as comfortable to drive, too.
While the Tipo is a little behind its rivals for ride comfort, for example, there’s really not much in it and the Fiat does tackle bumpy roads pretty well, as well as keeping small imperfections in the background. The seating position feels lower than in rivals, although it's no more comfortable.
The naturally aspirated 94bhp 1.4 petrol is very refined, being very quiet at low revs around town and only making an intrusive noise at higher speeds. Wind and road noise start to build up as well on the motorway - though those are generally well contained in the Tipo. Performance from the petrol unit isn’t bad, but it’s not as punchy as the turbo petrol or diesel.
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While the 1.4 T-Jet is slightly thirstier, we'd choose this engine over the other petrol because of its better responses. There's more torque from lower revs, and with 118bhp on tap it's sprightly enough to keep pace with traffic.
The 1.6-litre diesel is rattly from the outside, but it’s nearly as quiet as the petrol from the inside. Rev it hard and you’ll certainly hear the harsh noise, but most of the time the engine note is very much in the background. With 320Nm of torque, the diesel feels rapid, especially in-gear. The engine feels gutsy when the turbo kicks in, delivering plenty of torque to push the car along – which is a good thing, as it means you don’t have to rev it too hard. The six-speed manual feels rubbery, and if you change gears too fast, it’ll crunch as you slot the next ratio home.
There’s plenty of torque at low revs, which makes motorway driving easier since you won’t have to change down to start an overtake. Plus, it means you can stay away from the top the rev range, which is a lot noisier – sadly, the Tipo suffers in terms of refinement, with the Multijet engine being rattly and sounding unpleasant in the cabin.
In this review
- 1Fiat Tipo reviewThe Fiat Tipo comes as a compact hatch or SW estate, and it's easy to drive, offers decent space and is good value for money
- 2Engines, performance and drive - currently readingThe strong diesels and quiet petrols are good units, but the Tipo isn’t as much fun to drive as some rivals
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsDecent economy from diesel engines goes well with the low starting price
- 4Interior, design and technologyThe Tipo features a disappointingly dull design and a dated-looking interior
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceA big boot and decent legroom mean the Tipo is a practical car
- 6Reliability and SafetyGood safety levels and improved reliability bode well for the Tipo