New mild hybrid engine
She had everything to succeed: a great price, a rather successful line, correct equipment and mechanics that were just as good. In 2016, everyone was ecstatic about Fiat’s good idea: to offer a pretty compact at the price of a low-cost car, or 11,990 euros in a four-door version. But if everyone was enthusiastic about this Tipo, not everyone bought it. Six years later, if it still responds to the catalog of the Italian brand, it no longer has much to do with the original model, in France at least, where the catalog has shrunk.
Farewell to sedans and compacts: only the Cross versions remain
Forgotten the saloon with trunk, only the five-door and the station wagon have the right to quote, and again, only in a Cross finish, slightly raised (by 4 cm) with wheel arches highlighted in black plastic and front and rear bumpers baroud. An attempt at SUVization and upmarket too, since we are obviously very far from the original floor price.
So goes life, so goes the Tipo, which starts today at 21,480 euros with the entry-level 100 hp engine. This move upmarket is also accompanied by a new engine, which seems on the way to becoming one of the basic blocks of the ex-FCA branch of Stellantis, since it already equips the new SUV Alfa Romeo Tonale, but also the Jeep Compass e-hybrid and, closer to this Tipo, its big brother Fiat 500X hybrid.
It is also by comparing these two close cousins 500X and Tipo that one can wonder why customers prefer SUVs to sedans, even slightly enhanced like this one. For the habitability of crossovers? Not really. The rear seats of this Tipo are larger than in the 500X. As for the trunk, that of the latter does not exceed 350 l, while that of the Tipo reaches 440 l in the 5-door version, and 550 in the SW break.
The SUV has something more than the “essential” sedan does not have? Its technological equipment for example? That’s not really the case. When the 500X is content with a 7-inch screen, the Tipo offers a nice 10.25-inch panel from the second level.
It is rather in the line of the Tipo that one can find a defect. At least a difference with the cousin 500X. Curiously, while this one is eight years old, it seems to have a younger design than its sedan cousin. And for good reason. The (successful) but very very wise design of the compact is intended to be statutory, and not at all whimsical. Because in the collective unconscious, an expensive car is necessarily austere. So the designers of the Tipo had the idea of softening its line and allowing someone who doesn’t necessarily have the means to afford an expensive car, to pay for social status without breaking the bank. And the interior of the Tipo meets the same requirement. Hence this apparent coldness.
Austere and not (too) expensive is not necessarily synonymous with random behavior on the road. The Tipo was mechanically well born and it remained so. Its running gear ensures an excellent mix of comfort and road holding. It absorbs the roughness of bad road very well and its steering, far from being a peak of its kind, does the job perfectly. But all these qualities have been known since the birth of the car. So what of this new engine under the hood of this Tipo? On paper, in any case, we have everything to gain.
An excellent engine-gearbox combination, on paper at least
The block is a four-cylinder “firefly” which operates in the Miller cycle, supposed to give it better performance. this block is supported by a light hybridization of 48V equipped with a starter alternator. Nothing to be ecstatic about since a good half of world production is now equipped with mild hybrids. Except that this Tipo has a little something extra: a 20hp electric motor glued to the 7-speed automatic gearbox made in Magna Steyr. What, still on paper, allow the car to drive a few meters in zero emissions, to maneuver without noise, and to drastically reduce C02 emissions since, still according to the manufacturer, 40% of journeys are made in electric mode, which is programmed automatically.
But in reality, and on the road, things are different. The few meters in electric mode must be done from the tip of the accelerator. After 20 km/h, the thermal block snorts gently. As for the maneuvers, it is strongly advised not to repeat it several times to make your niche while keeping the EV mode. But after all, if the electric crutch makes it possible to glean C02 emissions (they are down 11%) and to lower consumption, why not?
Not really essential hybridization
But here again, the gain is not obvious. During the mixed journey of this test, consumption never fell below 6 l / 100 km. The score is not ridiculous, but we tend to think that the game is not necessarily worth the candle and that some non-hybrid heat engines achieve the same feat. Be that as it may, this Tipo Hybrid offers itself the luxury of 6d Full approval and 120 g releases which exempt it from penalties. However, it is useless to try to push it into extremes that it hates, or rather, that the auto box hates. Its downshifts are as long as an equinox day when you show a little enthusiasm on the accelerator pedal. This car is therefore to lead to a senator’s train which, given its statutory design, is rather fitting.
However, the initial idea of offering a rather classy car for a very low price is no longer really relevant. Because this Tipo in hybrid mode starts at 26,490 euros, to peak at nearly 30,000 euros. We have seen more “essential” prices.
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