With the whole Pandemic sweeping the world over the last 18 months, the opportunities to test out new cars have been few and far between, in fact to be fair new cars coming on to the market have been somewhat slower due to the above. With test drive chances still scarce in part, despite lockdown gradually lifting, it was to a local Fiat dealer we headed to take a look and drive the new Fiat Tipo Cross.
The first thing to mention about the Tipo Cross is it is NOT a larger Fiat Panda Cross, anyone with any notion that this Tipo will scamper across rough terrain that only the little Panda Cross or larger 4×4’s will venture to will be sorely disappointed as the Tipo Cross is front wheeled drive, not 4WD as the baby Panda is, a huge disappointment from our point of view and as opportunities go, one missed.
Now that is out of the way, let’s see what the new Tipo Cross does offer. Overall, the New Tipo Cross is structured in a decidedly more powerful and daring way. At first glance, the car is significantly wider, with the new design of the grille extending below the headlights, and is clearly higher: the height of the New Tipo Cross has been increased by almost 4 cm, thanks to a new suspension set-up and the addition of a new rim and tyre solution, already seen on another Fiat crossover, the 500X. The new Tipo Cross features thicker tyres for an even more rugged look. The new configuration also offers a higher driving position and makes getting in and out of the car easier, while simplifying everything Tipo families are used to, including putting children in the back seats or finding objects that might get stuck under the seats. The car is almost 7cm taller than the Tipo Life and is characterized by the addition of stylistic “Cross” details, starting with widened wheel arches, with room in the front for an exclusive protective trim integrated into the bumpers, including a prominent bull bar to give the car a more solid and muscular appearance, and passing the side skirts and the rear extractor, as well as the practical roof rack.
The looks on the outside certainly work, it might not be as eye catching as the Honda C-HR but it is certainly better than Nissan’s Juke, more well proportioned and from the side if you squint you might almost say it’s a bit Alfa Romeo Stelvio-esque’ (Well kind of?!).
On the inside it’s all very familiar if you are an existing Tipo owner, however one of the major novelties of the New Tipo Cross is the new fully configurable 7 ” digital TFT handset, which replaces the conventional analog instrument panel. This more sophisticated system helps to keep control over the state of the car, the multimedia aspect and the telephone. The cluster is also associated with the all new Uconnect 5 infotainment system with 10.25 ” touchscreen, another first – like the cluster – for the FCA group unveiled on the New 500, and now available on the Tipo. Developed with the idea of providing customers with a simple and convenient user experience, the Uconnect 5 system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto wireless means that you can use the features of Apple CarPlay or Android Auto without cables.
On the road the Tipo Cross is everything you would expect of a family hatchback, sorry crossover, the ride is comfortable but not exhilarating, this is not a car to be taking the racing line through the corners, not that it suffers from any noticeable body roll just that the Tipo Cross really doesn’t suit that kind of driving. Uneven road surfaces and dreaded pot holes can be felt when you drive along but not bone shakingly so, it will drive quite happily along B-roads and that raised driving position, like most crossovers does help a little when meandering down country lane, if only to nosey over garden walls as you pass! On A roads, the Tipo Cross saunters along without any drama, head on the motorways and it will comfortably cruise at the given speeds, it’s occupants on the whole remaining comfortable, from the kids in the back to the 6ft 4′ passenger up front nobody complained of any discomfort, back ache or shortage of space, which has to be a good thing.
The new Tipo range features ADAS systems to help you drive safely and enjoy every moment on board, such as letting you know if you stray out of your lane, autonomous emergency braking, intelligent speed assist and traffic sign recognition and something called Attention Assist, meaning the system can detect initial signs of fatigue by monitoring lateral movements of the car, meaning it will advise you stop and take a break.
The New Tipo Cross can be fitted with the 1.6 Multijet 95 or 130 hp turbodiesel engine or the new 1.0 GSE T3 petrol engine with 100 hp. More precisely, the latter is part of the FireFly Turbo engine family, representing the technological solution most able to offer the best performance, associated with significantly lower fuel consumption and emissions. Its maximum output is 74 kW (100 hp), while torque reaches 190 Nm at just 1,500 rpm, rather than the 4,500 rpm of the previous 1.4 petrol engine of 95 hp, whose torque was 127 Nm. Currenlty no Hybrid is on offer but we expect that to appear within the next 12 months, following on from the smaller 500 and Panda who both now offer a Hybrid model.
So what is the overall opinion on the new Fiat Tipo Cross? Well in short, it’s a car at cross purposes, simply because the bottom line is it really is a jacked up Tipo. This isn’t all bad, if you like the Tipo and certainly it’s new refreshed looks are an improvement then it might make it onto your shopping list. But up against some of the competition from Mazda, Honda and Kia it just misses the mark. The Tipo Cross really should have been the bigger brother to the Panda Cross, with 4WD and a little bit of fun factor but the truth is it isn’t and that is a shame.
*Images courtesy Stellantis