Parkers overall rating: 2.5 out of 5 2.5
  • Two engine choices – one petrol, one hybrid
  • Neither are particularly inspiring
  • Handling lacks the finesse of rivals

Petrol Engines

If you’re the kind of person who gets frozen with indecision when confronted with a menu, the Tipo’s got you covered. The engine choice comprises just two options, and both present real compromise compared with the more flexible units on offer in rival models.

The basic engine is a 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder, pumping out 100hp. Enough for a small car to keep up with modern traffic – but the Tipo isn’t that small or light and the second surprise is a five-speed manual gearbox. It means the Tipo can reach 62mph in around 12 seconds and is geared to be reasonably muted at motorway speeds, but you’ll be changing gears often, in-gear overtaking is poor and the shift action isn’t very nice. With emissions of around 125g/km, it’s competitive but not impressive.

If you’re wondering if the 1.0-litre is enough, it’s worth noting that the power and torque are essentially an average of the previous versions of the Tipo. It’s a good engine – but the Tipo isn’t the best place to experience it.

Prior to the 1.0-litre the Tipo had a choice of 95hp 1.4-litre, a 110hp 1.6-litre automatic, and 120hp 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol, all with higher emissions. None are particularly quick or refined, though the turbo will reach 62mph in less than 10 seconds at least. As a used buyer, you’ll probably be focusing on finding the no-longer-available option of a petrol automatic, or a diesel…

Hybrid engines

New for 2022 is the Tipo Hybrid, a powertrain also shared with the Fiat 500X. The Tipo Hybrid is of the self-charging variety – that is to say, there’s no means of externally charging the battery and in practice the driver merely sits back and lets the car get on with the tricky task of selecting which power source to use.

In practice, you’ll find that power source is nearly always the petrol engine. Fiat’s hybrid system runs at a puny 48 volts, and the electric motor only has around 20hp on its own. That means that it’s almost useless for anything but creeping along in traffic – breathe on the accelerator and the 1.5-litre petrol engine roars into life.

With a total power output of 130hp and 240Nm it’s not actually lacking in performance particularly, but the way the power is delivered is even clunkier than the system you get in a Renault Captur – and a world behind the smoother full hybrid system of a Toyota Corolla or the mild-hybrid powertrain in the Ford Focus.

It’s also very difficult to modulate your braking force in this model, as the transition between regenerative braking from the electric motor and friction braking from the brakes themselves is poorly managed. Add in the hybrid’s rather eye-watering starting price and we can’t think of a good reason to recommend it.

What’s it like to drive?

  • Numb, over-assisted steering
  • Rubbery suspension
  • A little underpowered

Although Fiat has got the layout and feel of the Tipo right, the weighting and feedback from the controls is not what you’d expect from the Italian marque – even the most basic original Tipos were fun to drive, and better than most rivals.

First, however, you have to get past the way it’s been packaged, with the front seats rather close together in the wide cabin, and tree-trunk thick windscreen pillars.

Everything is predictable and safe; the gearlever, with its old-school selection of five gears, is a short distance from the steering wheel in the style of a sportier car – which makes the slightly vague, rubbery change a disappointment (there’s also no lockout on reverse, so it’s easy to get the wrong gear if you’re used to six speeds). The brakes are responsive, albeit with little feedback, and the steering follows suit. There’s a city mode for even lighter steering; you’re unlikely to need it, and the Tipo Cross has suspension tuned to absorb speed bumps and potholes alike.

This over-damped nature means the Tipo is easy to drive smoothly at slower speeds, but has little to make it more likeable than other small hatchbacks. There’s no precision to engage those who enjoy driving, there’s little depth to satisfy drivers who want the car to make life easier.

Paired with some rather clumsy-feeling controls, it’s difficult to find anything particularly pleasant or appealing in how the Tipo drives, yet it’s also not bad enough to be notable. Want to forget your most recent journey? The Tipo could be your ideal car.