AN ALL-NEW 2016 Fiat Tipo has its crosshairs set on the lower end of the C-segment small car class.
Plugging a gaping hole in the Italian brand’s arsenal, the neat if conservatively styled Fiat Tipo moves into value-for-money territory for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
It will eventually rival the likes of the Toyota Corolla, Hyundai i30, Kia Cerato, and Holden Cruze, rather than directly going after more sophisticated adversaries such as the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus, and Mazda 3.
We’ve already seen the production version of the Fiat Tipo sedan, dubbed the Aegea, at the Istanbul Motor Show in May, underlining the low-cost, mass-market thinking behind FCA’s new small-car strategy.
Most panels up to the central pillars, as well as the dash and cabin architecture, will be shared between four- and five-door configurations.
All three (a wagon is also in the pipeline) are expected to be present at the Geneva Motor Show in late February, and will be built in Turkey as part of a joint venture with Tofas (an acronym for Türk Otomobil Fabrikası Anonim Şirketi), in which FCA has a 37.8 percent stake.
The Fiat Tipo’s main markets will be southern and eastern Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas, taking on the big-selling Koreans as well as the Volkswagen Jetta, Skoda Rapid, Peugeot 408, Nissan Pulsar, and Renault Megane.
To help keep prices down against such fiercely cost-effective competition, the Tipo’s platform is a long-wheelbase evolution of the FCA/General Motors Small Wide architecture that has propped up the current Fiat Grande Punto and Opel Corsa for almost a decade. The hatch is said to be longer than a VW Golf.
Class-conventional engineering abounds, with a MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension set-up. Under the bonnet, 1.4- and 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol and 1.3- and 1.6-litre turbo-diesel engines are slated for most variants, though higher-performance turbo petrol versions are also said to be under consideration.
Codenamed Type-356, this is Fiat’s second Tipo. The 1988-95 Type-160 original won widespread praise for its progressive and functional packaging, and underpinned a whole generation of Fiat, Alfa Romeo, and Lancia models throughout the 1990s.
With the small car market dominating Australian new vehicle registrations, it is likely that FCA is deadly serious about importing the Fiat Tipo, though not before 2017 at the earliest. Expect pricing to kick off from the low-$20,000 mark.
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