Delving into its recent past has become something of a habit for Fiat.
Since the original late 1980s Tipo family hatch, we’ve had two generations of Bravo separated by the forgettable Stilo.
Two and a half stars may seem harsh, but the Tipo is on a par with a Toyota Auris and Citroën C4 in a busy, hard-fought class
Name recognition is handy in the overcrowded C segment, and there isn’t a car company in existence that isn’t preoccupied with its past.
Still, coming after the expansion of the extended 500 family and the return of the 124 Spider, this doubling back does make it feel like the Italian giant is less nodding at its past than milking it for all it’s worth.
Thankfully, that isn’t all that Fiat is doing with this new Tipo. The first version, launched in 1988, was built in the same famously boxy groove as the original Panda and Uno, and while it was well received (and even fondly recalled), there’s no homage paid in the shape of the latest model.
Rather, it is its predecessor’s once-renowned packaging to which Fiat is paying tribute, with class-leading leg room and boot space claimed for this rather more curvy new Tipo.
There are other connections. The 1980s version was a global car too, eventually produced in Turkey by the same Tofas manufacturing firm that Turin will have build its namesake.
The first Tipo also featured the Type Two platform, an early example of the sort of modular front drive architecture that now dominates the industry.
The General Motors-Fiat Small platform that underpins the 21st century variant is unrelated but not dissimilar in many ways; Fiat has been using it to underpin a range of models since 2005.
All of which will be considered incidental for most buyers of the new Tipo. From Fiat’s perspective, the ideal association with the past would be a repeat of the first Tipo’s sales popularity.
In 1988, its design was cutting-edge compared with the leaden Vauxhall Astra and Ford Escort it was up against. And as well as finding early favour with buyers, the Tipo won the European Car of the Year award a year later.
Fiat’s board would turn handsprings if this new assault on the C segment proved to be even half as worthy.
We’re testing the hatch (there’s an estate, too) in range-topping Lounge format with a 1.6-litre Multijet diesel engine, starting at £17,995.
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