Being a family car, the Tipo Hybrid should handle small SUVs as well as regular hatchbacks. Unfortunately, it can’t compete on either front because it’s not very fun to drive and doesn’t have the technology you’d expect in either class. However, the Tipo does score some points for practicality and ride comfort.
The Tipo isn’t a big seller in the UK, but it’s a big business for Fiat across Europe (it was the most popular car in Turkey in 2021), which is why the Italian brand is now offering a high-value hatch with its latest model. -hybrid.
The Tipo has been revamped for late 2020 with a new Fiat badge in the grille, a new set of LED headlights and a few other exterior tweaks. However, the biggest change came with the addition of an SUV-inspired Cross model, which is what we’re testing here.
Sitting above both entry-level Tipo and mid-range City Life models, the Cross features a seven-centimeter increase in ground clearance, front and rear bumpers that look a bit more, a new radiator grille, and black plastic body moldings for the wheel arches, side skirts and roof rails.
There are some strong direct competitors to the Tipo Cross, even in its hybrid form. The mild-hybrid Ford Focus Active is the closest competitor, but the Citroen C4 and Kia XCeed are also good enough to pose a threat even without an electric drive option. On top of that, there is a seemingly endless selection of small SUVs that occupy a similar space on the market.
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As standard, the hybrid version of the Cross gets blind spot assist, heated front seats, keyless entry, adaptive cruise control, driver drowsiness detection and lane assist. There is also a road sign detection system, but it is better to ignore its symbols in the 7-inch driver display because it is not very reliable and regularly interferes with the satellite navigation system. The quality of the rear parking camera isn’t very clear either.
The (RED) version we tested is the result of a partnership between the AIDS charity (RED), to which the Italian company has pledged to contribute £2.9 million in the next few years. To celebrate this partnership, the Tipo special got seats with red tubes, a red dashboard, unique door panels and side mirrors painted red.
Inside, there’s a 7-inch touchscreen above the dashboard with satellite navigation, DAB and Bluetooth. It’s easy to navigate, but it’s not the fastest infotainment system out there.
Fiat ditched the 1.4-liter petrol and 1.6-liter diesels in its latest Tipo facelift, leaving only 99 horsepower in the 1.0-liter three-cylinder petrol and now this 1.5-liter four-cylinder hybrid model, complete with a 48-volt starter alternator and a 15kW battery pack .
You can start the Tipo Hybrid in electric only, but it doesn’t take much throttle input before the gasoline engine explodes to life. This plug-in hybrid powertrain feels powerful enough with 128 horsepower and 240 Nm of torque, but there’s a disappointing lack of response, thanks in large part to the idle automatic gearbox.
It’s also not the most refined engine, being a bit tricky when you’re crawling in traffic (if you’re going really fast in EV-only mode). Fortunately, it calms down at highway speeds.
The Fiat Tipo’s ride quality isn’t quite on par with the likes of the Ford Focus or Volkswagen Golf, but at no point does it look harsh. The raised suspension is able to prevent vibrations from road defects in place, and the seats are supportive and comfortable.
Whereas, the Tipo falls flat compared to its competitors in the corners. While it doesn’t roll as much as you’d expect, the steering is incredibly light and doesn’t give much feedback. The slow throttle is also hard to adjust, so it’s best not to push too hard on the Tipo Hybrid.
A noticeable benefit to your new hybrid powertrain comes when you’re trying to park the car. Fiat says this can be done using electric power alone, and while you have to be gentle with the throttle to make that happen, it’s a nice touch.
The Tipo Hybrid is available as a slot or proprietary model. Needless to say, the practicality is better on the Estate, but the hatch still offers plenty of room in the front and decent rear legroom and headroom. The trunk capacity of 440 liters is one of the largest in its class, easily outperforming the 412-liter Peugeot 308 and the 380-liter Volkswagen Golf. There is a bit of a deep lip into the boot, so heavy luggage can be a struggle to get in and out of.
The entry-level 1.0L Tipo version starts at a rather eye-catching price of £19,605, but this light-hybrid crossover version jumps to £27,605, while the Cross (RED) version we tested adds an additional £1,000 to the price. The milder, better-equipped Ford Focus Active Vignale comes in at an extra £1,065, but it’s definitely worth the extra expense.
|Model:||Fiat Tipo Hybrid (Red)|
|engine:||1.5 liter turbocharged four cylinders electric motor|
|power/torque:||128 hp / 240 Nm|
|0 to 62 mph:||9.3 seconds|
|maximum speed:||124 mph|
|Carbon Dioxide:||120 g/km|
|For sale:||right Now|