By Nicholas Hodgson
Transportation for the masses is bread and butter to Fiat. It’s what they’re known for and it’s what they’ve been good at in the European market for donkey’s years. Unfortunately, unlike the Italians, we’ve never taken well to the idea of shoving the family plus extended family into something the size of a shoe and for those reasons the tiny city family car has never really taken off, leaving vehicles like the Fiat 500 as novelty city runabouts. No, what we want is something practical, spacious and cheap. The Fiat Tipo might do just what the doctor ordered for the Italians as right off the bat many of these boxes are ticked, however the question must be asked whether the SUV generation will give a traditional, no frills family vehicle a second look.
Someone order an UBER?
Got to say that I did feel like a stylish UBER driver from behind the wheel. Sure it’s got some exceptionally funky design elements to it that set it apart from the usual Japanese offerings in this market, but it wasn’t enough to rid itself from the stigma of the ride share car. Looking at it from Fiat’s perspective however, they may have hit the nail on the head. The Tipo may indeed have that air to it for that very reason, simply consider the popularity of ride share vehicles and no wonder they would want a slice of that pie.
Slow pie though.
70kW just didn’t really cut it for me I’m afraid. Sure it gets Fiat those wonderful claimed figures of 4.5l/100km in town and 3.3 on the open road, but those are never really attainable in the real world where you want to get places at the speed limit. Which is a shame really as being behind the wheel of the Fiat Tipo was a rather lovely experience. Comfortable, well sprung and quiet, the car handled our pot hole ridden Johannesburg roads with ease and I’d have been very relaxed if it wasn’t for having to ring its neck after every red light. The cabin too was a great place to be, with all the equipment you could want and none of the extra fluff that would just drive the price up. I do have to say though that Fiat’s Bluetooth connection system is one of the most confusing and frustrating I’ve ever come across. Both this and the Panda were a nightmare to connect to.
What about the family?
“You don’t need much to get a lot” is a rather apt slogan for the Fiat Tipo. There is actually a lot to like about it and quite honestly it’ll more than happily fulfil for your average family vehicle needs, if you’re willing to buck the trend and decide that actually an SUV isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. Saloon’s such as this certainly used to do us just fine back in the 90s. If I’m living in the past though and the reality is that no modern family would touch a car of this design with a barge pole, well then maybe it’s market has just migrated from children being sick in the back on the yearly family vacation to adults on a heavy Saturday night.