The 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

The Fiat Tipo is a well-rounded budget hatch. Although it's not as big as a Skoda Rapid for 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 deal.

While the entry-level Tipo is especially cheap in Europe, the higher UK pricing invites comparison with some much more accomplished rivals. The Vauxhall Astra, for example, is much more fun to drive without sacrificing economy or comfort - and that’s where the Tipo loses out most.

While many Italian cars have character that helps gloss over their shortcomings in some areas, the Tipo's dull driving experience is likely to put some people off. The styling details are neat, but the overall shape of the Tipo, along with its interior, is disappointingly drab. If you’re looking for a cheap family car, certainly give the Tipo a look.

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Fiat Tipo 1.4 T-Jet Easy Plus

The Fiat Tipo and Fiat Tipo Station Wagon (SW) estate are compact family cars, but they're for sale at a lower price than rivals such as the Ford Focus and VW Golf, so theoretically offer better value for money.

Fiat has used existing tech for the Tipo. It's built on an enlarged platform that's shared with the likes of the Jeep Renegade, Fiat 500L/500X and Fiat Doblo van, while engines and in-car technology are also common with other Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Jeep vehicles.

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Those engines include Fiat's ageing naturally aspirated 1.4 petrol, the newer 1.4 T-Jet turbo petrol and 1.6 Multijet diesel. All cars are front engine, front-wheel drive, with 6-speed manual gearboxes for the petrol engines and an optional 6-speed auto for the diesel.

The Tipo range is structured in a simple way, with straightforward price rises between grades. The entry-level 1.4 95hp Easy hatchback starts at around £15,000, with the Easy Plus adding bonus kit for around £600 extra. Higher spec Lounge trim is £2,000 more than Easy, while sporty S-Design is another £1,000 on top of that.

You have to move up to Easy Plus trim if you want the cheapest 1.4 T-Jet 120hp or 1.6 Multijet II 120hp models, with prices starting from around £17,000 and £19,500 respectively. The DCT auto-equipped diesel is £1,000 more than the manual, but is only available in Easy Plus trim, not in pricier Lounge spec. Choose S-Design, and you only have the petrol engines to choose from. Any of these trims can be had in Tipo SW estate guise. And guess what? £1,000 is added to the list price.

As well as this core model range, Fiat offers plenty of good-value special editions with added kit. The Fiat Tipo Street is an upgrade of Easy trim for £500 that adds black detailing, black alloy wheels and tinted windows for a sportier look, but retaining the pedestrian 1.4-litre petrol engine. Elsewhere, the Fiat Tipo Mirror adds touchscreen infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, other kit for a modest price increase over Easy Plus.

Another special is the Fiat Tipo Sport. This takes S-Design and adds a sportier bodykit with a rear diffuser, front splitter, side skirts and a black contrast roof. There's more kit inside, too, although again it only comes with the two petrol engine options, so there's no power upgrade to go with the sportier looks.

3.5
3.5/5
The strong diesels and quiet petrols are good units, but the Tipo isn’t as much fun to drive as some rivals
3.8
3.8/5
Decent economy from diesel engines goes well with the low starting price
2.7
2.7/5
The Tipo features a disappointingly dull design and a dated-looking interior
4
4/5
A big boot and decent legroom mean the Tipo is a practical car
3
3/5
The Tipo is still new, so reliability and safety are an unknown at the moment

Overall, the Fiat Tipo is a decent budget choice, and offers more kit than similarly priced versions of cars such as the Focus, Renault Megane and Peugeot 308. But it does feel like a budget option inside, and the dated technology under the skin means it's not as dynamic as its rivals and is likely to be pricier to run, too.

Tipo history

The Fiat Tipo hatchback introduced in the UK in 2016 (it arrived first as a saloon in other markets in 2015) is the second car to use the Tipo name. The original Tipo of 1988 was the successor to the Ritmo, and it even won the European Car Of The Year title in 1989. You'll be hard-pressed to find one these days, but its platform was used on a number of other cars, including the Alfa Romeo 145/146, Fiat Coupe Turbo and Lancia Delta.

While that car also spawned the Fiat Tipo 16V hot hatchback, that hasn't been the case with the current car. The only real variation is the Tipo Station Wagon estate, which offers added practicality over the hatch courtesy of its larger boot.

Last updated: 
20 May, 2019