Fiat Tipo

The Tipo marks Fiat’s return to the C-segment. Low emissions and lightweighting should help it compete

The rise in popularity of SUVs has meant that more traditional compact cars could seem less important to OEMs. But the market is still buoyant and, if they can develop a vehicle that is competitive, it could make financial statements much healthier.

That’s why Fiat began developing the latest generation of its Tipo in 2013, hoping to grab some of a market it hasn’t competed in for a number of years. The previous generation of the Tipo went out of production in 1995.

The latest vehicle was developed by collaboration between Fiat’s style centre in Italy and its Tofas R&D facilities in Turkey.

In order to compete with vehicles such as the Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf and Opel-Vauxhall Astra, Fiat had to find a niche. Fiat’s engineers developed the Tipo with a simple brief in mind – skills, no frills. Initially the programme was tasked with bringing the sedan version to the market first, which it did at the end of 2015, and this has accumulated sales of more than 35,000. Next, and introduced at the same time, are the hatchback and wagon versions. “The three cars were developed by different teams, but they had a single leadership so there was a high level of synergy between them,” says Giorgio Cornacchia, head of product development at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

The Tipo shares a platform with the Fiat 500L and Jeep Renegade, and as with many cars in the segment it uses MacPherson struts at the front and a torsion beam at the rear. But the team did look at other set-ups before using this suspension layout.

“It's a global architecture and we have different suspensions, but we chose this evolution because it gave the performance with the lateral loads, and its performance was in line with our competitors,” says Cornacchia.

tags: July-August 2016 Fiat Chassis