Fiat Tipo

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

The Tipo weighs from 1,365kg in wagon form and 1,270kg as a hatchback, and reaching these levels was a challenge for the engineering team.

“We needed some high-end technology solutions but done in an affordable way. When I was at Maserati, we produced the doors using a single aluminium part and it gave an incredible amount of weight saving because it reduced the welding,” says Cornacchia.

And while using aluminium on the Tipo wasn’t economically viable, using the same process meant that even using steel helped minimise weight. Engineers also approached the body-in-white in a more intelligent manner.

Many firms often talk about multi-material structures, but for Fiat, and the Tipo in particular, Cornacchia talks about a multi-thickness approach.

He says: “This is a way of keeping things simple, taking processes we use on top-level cars and bringing them to an affordable level. It means being able to take, measure and calculate your needs because, when you take a multi-thickness approach, you must be sure that you do the right thing at the right time and in the right part of the vehicle.”

The final result – the overall weight of the vehicle – proves the work done in the virtual world was correct, and also that it was worthwhile to take the processes from higher-margin vehicles.

But while weight, and in turn emissions, are incredibly important to meet legislative demands, there are more consumer-orientated issues that need to be addressed too, which is why the Tipo has three transmission options: manual, torque converter and dual-clutch.

“This is more a commercial issue than an engineering question,” says Cornacchia. “The ability to reach the highest number of customers is one of the strong points of this car, and there were no challenges because the architecture was designed to accommodate them.”

Fiat has been long removed from the C-segment, but developing the Tipo to be as competitive as possible should help it to regain some of the ground it has lost in the intervening years.

tags: July-August 2016 Fiat Chassis