We drove the Fiat Tipo 1,6 Multijet 120 HP: style, elegance and performance at a price…

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The Fiat group unveils with the new Tipo in what it truly excels: offering character, latin elegance, practicality and impressive performance together with incredible value for money.

Indeed, this Tipo has it all. A stylish package, which looks and feels by no means cheap, with a very willing state of the art high-tech Diesel engine under the hood, sitting on a modern platform. It drives wonderfully suave, showing the enormous experience this large group has gained in building compact, well performing, practical vehicles endowed with character and performance.

A test of the 1,6 Multijet version of the Tipo truly convinced us of all this, again…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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Good looks and performance

Italian car designers have a good feel for proportions, and this shows again in the timelessly good looks of this Tipo, and this from any angle. It is certainly not easy to style a compact four door limousine with a wheelbase of 263.6 cm or 103.78 inches, but the design team has succeeded very well here. We like very much the elongated rear door window surround, which gives the car extra panache and make it look more elegant and dynamic.

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The interior exudes also this same discrete elegance. Of course, two classic round clocks are facing you, but we also liked the seat upholstery and color combinations, as the photos show.

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The car seats four easily, and the boot contains a very good 520 liters.

Our test car came with the 1.6 Multijet II engine combined with a six-speed manual gearbox. This engine surprised us with its willingness and smoothness. It jus reacts immediately to any movement of your right foot, and develops its excellent torque immediately with not the slightest hesitation, and it was just a delight to move under this power away from standstill, and also feel the push immediately set in after a gearchange. Of course, performance leaves nothing to be desired. The turbo diesel delivers 120 HP at 3750 rpm, allowing Fiat Tipo to reach a top speed of 199 km/h and accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 9.7 seconds.

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But it is rather more the effortlessness in reaching this performance which stands out. Indeed, by using a variable geometry turbocharger, the engine delivers high torque at low revs (320 Nm at 1750 rpm), and there is more…

Indeed, the engine is also smooth and utterly flexible. All this thanks to the third-generation Common Rail Multijet II injection system, the high-tech solution the Fiat group has developed for controlling high injection pressures, whatever the engine speed and the injected fuel quantity. In practice, the engine introduces small amounts of fuel (pilot injections) to optimize noise and emissions and, with the main injection, manages the injected quantity of fuel necessary to provide the performance required by the driver, ensuring particularly smooth engine operation in all situations. One can indeed potter around in third gear at the legal 30 kmh limit, and enjoy smoothness and docility.

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All this is thanks to the innovative injectors which can manage up to eight injections per cycle and implement increasingly advanced strategies for optimizing combustion, such as Injection Rate Shaping (IRS), in which the two consecutive main injections are so close that they generate a continuous, modulated fuel delivery profile in the cylinders.

These methods do not only improve the combustion process to improve noise and smoothness, but also contribute to low particulate and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions. The new injection system is made even simpler and more reliable by implementing a less complex construction of the injectors.

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This means that the engine Euro 6 compliant – and is also frugal: on the combined ECE test cycle, the Tipo 1.6 Multijet II 120 HP registered 4.2 litres/100 km of fuel consumption and 110 g/km of CO2 emissions. During our test, we achieved with some anticipative and smooth driving easily figures between 4,5 and 5 liters/100 km.

When it comes to NOx emissions, it is good to know that the oxidation catalyst is integrated in the new NSC (NOx Storage Catalyst) which, by implementing a specific chemical formula and sophisticated injection management software strategies, can reduce NOx emissions by 60%, making a decisive contribution to achieving Euro 6 emission limits.

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Gearbox changes are slick and effortless, and the clutch is utterly progressive, so together with the extra servo provided by the “city” mode of the electric power steering, this Tipo is an effortless delight to move in dense urban traffic. According to the ECU test cycle, urban consumption amounts to a very reasonable 5,2 liters/100 km.

We liked very much the very good insulation, with no vibrations or undue noise from engine and drivetrain. The cabin of Tipo is well shielded from any mechanical and road noise, and this gives the Tipo a silence and level of mechanical refinement which is undoubtedly at the top of its class.

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Predictable handling and good comfort

The experience of the Fiat Group is also translated into the excellent chassis and suspension. One finds McPherson struts and coil springs at the front, an interconnected wheel torsion beam suspension at the rear. The particular torsion profile achieves very good stiffness and roll resistance without needing to use an anti-roll bar…

The Tipo steers precise and neutral, and although it does not invite you to throw it around corners, it is pleasant and effortless to drive fast, also over winding roads. Body roll is minimal, and comfort is quite good, with suspension being overall rather firm, but not unduly hard. Seat support is excellent, and there is ample (leg)room at the rear. The Tipo has the ESC (Electronic Stability Control) system, and this contains ASR (Anti Slip Regulation): the system uses the brakes and engine control system at any speed to optimize traction allowing Fiat Tipo to tackle low grip surfaces with ease. But there is more like Panic Brake Assist (PBA): in case of emergency braking, the system applies the maximum brake force to achieve the shortest stopping distance.

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But there is still more: what to think of Trailer Sway Control (TSC): the system reduces swaying of the trailer to improve control in tricky towing conditions. It monitors car directionality with respect to the trajectory and applies alternating pressure on the brakes to slow it down and if the pressure increases on one of the front wheels to balance swaying of the trailer.

We also appreciated the Hill Start Assist (HSA) in the congested Brussels tunnels: the system holds the brake locked for approximately two seconds. And what to think of MSR (Motor Schleppmoment Regelung): in case of excessively abrupt downshifting in poor grip conditions, the MSR function intervenes by restoring engine torque and preventing the wheels from locking and slipping. There is also Electronic Rollover Mitigation (ERM): this function cuts in when a wheel is lifted off the road. In case of extreme dynamic conditions, the ERM helps to re-establish stability and regain control of the car.

Last but not least there is Traction Control System (TCS), which is useful with this powerful diesel when starting away with too much abandon in the wet: this function reduces the risk of drive wheel slippage during acceleration from a standstill or at slow speed by applying the brakes to the single wheels which are losing grip. The system can be partially deactivated by pressing a specific button.

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A last interesting and clever detail is the brake light activation in case of deceleration: this function activates the brake lights for one second or more when the Hill Start Assist or the ESC systems are activated.

Last but not least good stopping power is provided with vented 284 mm discs at the front, 251 mm disks at the rear.

U Connect(ed) in the Tipo

As every modern car now befits, there is the full range of infotainment facilities available in the Tipo. Aux, USB and Bluetooth connections are of course provided. Our test car sported the UconnectTM 5” Nav device,

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which adds a new TomTom 3D navigation system with three-dimensional maps, voice commands and free TMC (traffic announcements).

Sound is provided by a 220 watt system with two 19 mm tweeters in the dashboard, two 165 mm mid-woofers in the front doors and two 130 mm full-range speakers in the rear doors. Needless to say that the Tipo soothes your ears…

Conclusion

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The Tipo is a well designed “Turismo” car, a five-seater which is at the beginning of a world class career, to be seen for many years in many parts of the world. It is utterly well balanced and styled with outstanding proportions, state of the art technology, in brief, setting the benchmark in many respects, also last but not least in terms of sheer value for money. The drivability, smoothness and performance of the second generation Multijet diesel engine was very impressive and convincing, and shows that modern diesel engines have not said their last word yet. Add to this the excellent insulation from noise and any vibrations, which gives this car a decidedly up market feel.

We liked the Tipo very much, and we suggest that you take it for a drive too… we just wait to lay ourt hands on the newly introduced 5-door version!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

 

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