Review: Fiat Tipo Station Wagon

A punchy diesel engine and a bigger boot make the Tipo a practical proposition in station wagon guise. In the competitive family estate segment, it's not tip top, but it can hold its own.

Fiat has been on a bit of a retro binge lately what with its ever-expanding 500 range and the new 124 Spider. But it also revived another blast from the past recently, in the form of the Tipo.

We tried out the Focus-rivalling hatchback version when it arrived last year, but now there’s a more practical estate. We took it out for a spin to see if it’s worth considering…

Fiat Tipo, front static

Externally, the only thing the new Tipo has in common with its precursor is the badge, and for that we can be thankful. The original arrived in the late 80s and, comparative to the 500 and 124, it’ll be a while before the original 'also-ran' Tipo attains true classic status.

The Tipo gets an upmarket look, even in the face of the mighty Golf.

The new version however, is every bit a car for 2017, and it actually gets quite an upmarket look, even when faced with the mighty Golf. Admittedly the range-topping Lounge we tested benefited from some neat 17in alloy wheels and some extra chrome details.

The thin, low grille and oblong headlights help it stand out too, especially next to the likes of the rather dreary-looking i30 Tourer. At the back there’s some wraparound tail lights that set if off nicely, although looks a little strange dimensionally side on.

Fiat Tipo, side static

Read more: Five things you need to know about the Fiat Tipo hatchback

The extra two feet of metal behind the rear wheels don’t do it any favours, and it’s clear that this car is based on the shorter, more well-proportioned hatchback.

It’s fair comment that Fiat has never had the last word in interior quality, but it has improved things significantly in recent years. Nothing feels particularly cheap as such, but next to some other European offerings the Tipo’s fixtures and fittings start to flag.

This is particularly noticeable in the infotainment stakes, where Fiat has opted to fit a rather dated 5in touchscreen – smaller than you get on many rivals.

Fiat Tipo interior

There’s nothing wrong with the system as such, and Lounge models feature a decent TomTom satnav, but that teeny screen is a reminder that this car is built to a budget. Passenger space is impressive too, and Fiat points out itself that it’s a class leader in this domain.

The Tipo is a class leader for passenger space.

But where space really matters for an estate is in the boot, and the Tipo offers a reasonable 550 litres. That’s more than a Focus Estate (476 litres) but less than the Golf Wagon’s 605, as well as the i30 Tourer’s 602-litre load space.

Of course, more capacity is freed up if you lower the rear seats which also usefully fold completely flat. There’s more storage if you remove the boot floor too, although you lose the practical flat-loading lip if you do that.

Boot space of 550 litres is around average for the class, but significantly more than the Focus' 476 litres.

A wide range of engines are available for the Tipo, with two 1.4-litre and one 1.6-litre units making up the petrols, the latter of which gets an automatic gearbox. But our pick of the range happens to be the one fitted to our test car – the 1.6-litre 118bhp diesel.

A 93bhp 1.3-litre diesel is also offered, but the bigger unit makes much more sense in the Station Wagon and is actually just as economical. It’s not the quietest, but it can deliver a surprising punch considering its rather normal horsepower output.

Ok, it’ll still take you 10.1 seconds to get to 62mph, but its 320Nm of torque ensures progress actually feels a lot quicker than the official stats suggest.

Fiat Tipo front dynamic

Want something a little more stylish? How about the Fiat 500L?

Economy for this engine is purportedly as high as 76mpg, although our car was achieving around 50 – not bad in real-world terms. It’s also available with a dual-clutch automatic transmission too.

The DCT lowers mpg and performance specs marginally, but promises to make town driving a more relaxing experience than the rather short-geared six-speed manual does.

As for the ride and handling, well, the Tipo is a car. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s not as fun as a Focus due to a rather lifeless steering set-up, but it’s competent enough to not warrant too many complaints.

Fiat Tipo rear static

But we’ll give you another just for good measure: the suspension isn’t what you’d call supple. The result is a noticeable change in feel when road surface changes. So, we can’t say it’s as refined as the Ford either. But does it meet the day-to-day needs of families and fleet drivers? Certainly.

So as a budget family estate, does the Tipo have what it takes? Entry-level list prices of just £14,795 say yes, but what about lease rates? A range-topping Lounge fitted with the 1.6-litre diesel like you see here will set you back around £220 per month – about the same as you’ll be paying for a Focus Estate, i30 Tourer or Astra Sports Tourer.

But which one would we recommend? Well its rather lacklustre driving experience prohibits us from giving the Tipo an outright recommendation over other choices. But if driving dynamics aren’t foremost in your mind – and let’s be honest, if you’re after a practical, budget estate they probably aren’t – then it’s certainly worth a look.

Model tested: Fiat Tipo 1.6 Multijet Lounge

*Average lease rates:

Personal: £287
Business: £205

List price:£18,480
Engine:1.6 inline four diesel
0-62mph:10.1 seconds
Top speed:124 mph
Combined economy:76.3 mpg
CO2:98 g/km
Tax band:£100 (first year) £140 (standard rate)
Insurance group:15
Luggage capacity:550 litres

 *Average lease rates calculated using ContractHireAndLeasing.com data and based on typical 6+35 10k p/a deals. Correct at time of writing.

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