Parkers overall rating: 2.5 out of 5 2.5
  • Wide interior, wide seats
  • Squashy where it matters
  • Unyielding and rather cheap elsewhere

How is the quality and layout?

Fiat’s interior design language changes from model to model; the Panda, all rugged and square, the 500, slick, cute and slightly ’50s inspired. The Tipo’s backstory is less easily plundered for inspiration, as the original was the definitive minimalist ’80s effort with two ‘slits’ of glowing green digital dash in a stripped-back squared-off black panel of hard plastic.

So what you get in the new Tipo is a bit like the outside – curvy, slightly bulbous and not particularly efficient or memorable. There’s a central infotainment screen, easy to use heater controls and direct buttons for extras such as heated seats, so it’s intuitive to use at least. There’s a small – 7.0-inch – digital instrument panel on all but the most basic Tipo, and big, wide seats with a good range of adjustment, but not many adjustments. The Tipo Cross does include height adjustment for the passenger, and there’s plenty of headroom to adjust into, thanks to the double-bubble style roof.

It’s easy to navigate and use, but not very stylish, and it’s framed by massive rounded A-pillars that make roundabouts an exercise in trying to see past them. Aside from that, it’s a good environment for driving, with big footwells and little distance from wheel, to gearlever, to (traditional) handbrake.

Infotainment and tech

Occupying a predictable place in the centre of the dashboard is the tablet-like Uconnect infotainment system, with a 7.0-inch screen for 2022. It’s quite advanced compared to earlier models, with online features and a usable Garmin sat-nav built in on higher-specifications, but feels a little dated. Apple Carplay is available, as is Android Auto, and there’s a good-sized space for your phone in front of the gearlever.

For a car that’s so average in places, the driver assistance tech is surprisingly good. The adaptive cruise (activated above 19mph) and lane keeping are not the most intrusive or harsh, and disabling the latter is done with a button on the indicator stalk; no menu-diving or poking in the darkness by your right knee.

It’s a shame the stalk itself feels so unpleasant to use. You can avoid the strangely long, wobbly push forward for high-beam setting by relying on the auto high beams on the Tipo Cross, but other drivers won’t thank you – it often failed to dip before oncoming traffic flashed and occasionally failed to switch to high beams on dark roads too. This is typical of the Tipo experience – generally good, but overlooking the details that make a car feel special.

Comfort

  • Wide front seats with subtle bolsters
  • Lots of elbow room for four adults
  • Reasonable refinement, too

Cars aimed at the Fiat Tipo’s market don’t always put comfort first, but in this case you can reap the benefits of the ‘small-wide’ platform it’s based on. This car was designed for worldwide appeal, and one side effect is a very ‘American’ feel to the way things have been set up. You get broad-backed, quite flat seats up front with subtle, squashy bolsters below the shoulder line, though the seats are positioned quite close together, with more room on the door side than you might expect.

It’s easy to get comfortable, though the firmness of the seat base might get tiring on long drives. Everything falls to hand easily, though relaxing your elbows is not always comfortable due to the lack of surfaces within reach – and the steering does encourage a more relaxed driving position. The Tipo Cross has long-travel, cushioned suspension which complements the support from the front seats, the standard Tipo is less accomplished at absorbing small imperfections.

Rear passengers get a good view out with windows that open fully, but they will want to focus on outside, as there’s not much to entertain them in the car. Only the Tipo Cross has any connectivity for gadgets in the back, with a rear USB port.