Fiat Tipo shows good form with function

2017-06-28 06:02
The Tipo’s exterior design style is very much in line with the market it caters for – not too racy, but definitely not conservative either with a hint of sporty touches.              Photo:SUPPLIED

The Tipo’s exterior design style is very much in line with the market it caters for – not too racy, but definitely not conservative either with a hint of sporty touches. Photo:SUPPLIED

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ITALIAN design has in my mind always been much more about form than function – very much like designer shoes and clothes which don’t have much function as long as they look good.

With the Tipo, the Italian car manufacturer shows that it can pack a punch with function in a not too shabby form. The Tipo has been developed around Fiat’s “Skills, no frills” brief giving plenty of functionality in a car that offers value for money.

Fiat has recently launched the Tipo in SA giving it a competitor in the medium-compact segment with hatch and sedan versions. Rivals include the likes of the Hyundai i30, Ford Focus, Mazda3 and Toyota Corolla.

It is aimed at a market segment for which family-friendly space, features and value for money are the most important boxes to tick.

The sedan is available in the Pop or Easy versions while the hatchback is available in the Pop, Easy or Lounge specifications.

The range offers one diesel (1.3 MultiJet II VVT turbodiesel) and two petrol (1.4 and 1.6) derivatives, while the transmissions can be five or six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission depending on the engine.

The vehicle test driven was a six-speed manual 1.4 litre hatch version.

Exterior

The Tipo’s exterior design style is very much in line with the market it caters for – not too racy, but definitely not conservative either with a hint of sporty touches.

The front is dominated by the chrome-embellished mesh grille housing that distinctive Fiat emblem.

The LED daytime running lights add to the sporty touches as does the spoiler on the rear of the hatch model. The sides of both the sedan and hatch versions are dominated by a form line running from the headlights to the sculpted tail lights.

Interior:

One of the most impressive features is the roomy interior with its neat dashboard and instrument panel layout. The controls are easy to reach and adjust.

The seats are well contoured and comfortable and the driver’s seat height can also be adjusted.

The interior of the Tipo features numerous compartments in various shapes and sizes for storing personal objects, smartphones, bottles, coins and more.

A media centre for connecting devices is situated in front of the gear lever and features USB and auxiliary ports.

The Tipo comes with plenty of comfort features.

The audio system of the high spec models, features a touch screen with Bluetooth. The high-spec Lounge derivative is also fitted with an automatic air conditioning system, a multifunction steering wheel, electric front windows and side mirrors, 17-inch alloy wheels, chrome detailing, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, rear parking sensors (on all except Pop derivatives), cruise control and lumbar support for the driver’s seat.

The luggage space is very generous in the Tipo and the 60:40 split rear bench adds to its storage flexibility.

During my time of test driving the Tipo, it was taken on a road trip to Cape Town for a long weekend and the boot was more than adequate for the luggage of three people, with enough space available to accommodate that of two more people. The boot has a stepless still which made the loading and unloading of luggage that much easier.

It’s leg- and headroom is very good.

A reverse camera is optional on Easy sedan and Easy hatchback, while being standard on the 1.3 Lounge derivative.

Also available is Cruise Control on all Easy and Lounge models and can be selected as an option on the Hatchback Pop model.

All Tipo models feature full size spare wheels.

Ride:

One of the most noticeable features of the engine is its noiseless idling. It offers a very zippy and energetic, yet smooth ride around town. It really likes to be moved quickly through its six gears.

It has a city mode with extra power to the steering wheel to make it easier on the arms for city driving.

The sporty three-spoke steering wheel has a nice feel beneath the fingers.

The national road from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town, with its long, fast stretches interspersed with slow stretches, was the perfect opportunity to put the Tipo to the test for handling and fuel consumption.

Owing to its lack of turbocharging, the naturally aspirated 1.4-litre engine did feel a bit underpowered while overtaking, especially uphill, and one had to gear down in most cases to overtake with confidence.

That said, the road handling was excellent, and despite the windy conditions during our road trip, it felt sturdy on the road and delivered a very comfortable and relaxed ride.

In fact, it was so enjoyable that what should have been a seven-hour journey turned into a 12-hour road trip in each direction, without a hint of tiredness after the long journey.

Owing to the relaxed driving, the Tipo managed to get a fuel consumption of 5.8 litres per 100km on the open road from Cape Town.

This is quite similar to the combined fuel consumption claimed by Fiat as being 5.7 litres/100km for the 1.4 petrol (the model tested).

Fiat claims a fuel consumption of 3.7 litres/100km for the 1.3 diesel and 6.7 litres/100km for the 1.6 automatic.

Safety

The Fiat Tipo offers modern active and passive safety devices such as standard, driver and front passenger airbags (with side and curtain airbags as an option).

Also standard is electronic stability control (ESC).

This sophisticated system helps to maintain steering control under extreme conditions, such as on wet or slippery roads or when tackling tight corners or making sudden emergency manoeuvres.

If the driver exceeds the performance limits for the road conditions, causing the vehicle to oversteer or understeer, the system intervenes by braking one or more wheels so as to maintain stability.

The ESC system includes a number of devices including Panic Brake Assist (PBA), which intervenes in case of emergency braking by increasing the braking force; ABS; traction control (TCS), which detects wheel slip under acceleration and intervenes by reducing engine torque; and Hill Start Assist, which maintains brake pressure for approximately two seconds after the driver releases the pedal.

Prices:

Fiat Tipo Sedan

1.4l Pop - R229 900

1.4l Easy - R249 900

1.3l D Easy - R274 900

1.6l Easy Auto - R274 900

Fiat Tipo Hatchback

1.4l Pop - R249 900

1.4l Easy - R269 900

1.4l Lounge - R289 900

1.6l Easy Auto - R294 900

All Fiat Tipo models come with a standard three-year/100 000km warranty and service plan.

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