What is it?
We have here Fiat’s new sedan which will replace not one, but many of its offerings globally. With this new model, Fiat is set to make a comeback to the global mass market sedan arena, and in a big way. The car you see here, a functional, compact three-box sedan, forms the basis of a new three-car family that Fiat has created for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
First to be released is this saloon, badged Egea in the Turkish market, which is where it’s built. For the UK and mainland Europe markets, however, Fiat is reviving the Tipo nameplate (from the late 1980s and early 1990s) and has set-up additional five-door hatch and wagon versions which are yet to be revealed, to be sold alongside the four-door. While this new sedan is out now, the coming hatch and wagon editions are set to appear at the Geneva show next spring.
At a private showing at Fiat’s Design Centre in Turin, folks from our sister magazine, Autocar UK, have seen all three versions of the new Egea/Tipo series. While the hatch and wagon remain officially under wraps, the Egea saloon is now ‘live’ (it was actually unveiled at the Istanbul motor show back in May). We’ve also had a spell behind the wheel.
Designed around the brief ‘Skills not Frills’ and claiming to provide class-topping roominess, boot capacity and value for money, Fiat’s newcomer is based on the same platform used by the Jeep Renegade. Up front, there’s an orthodox mix of 1.4-litre (94bhp) and 1.6-litre (108bhp) petrol Fiat group engines, along with 1.3-litre (94bhp) and 1.6-litre (118bhp) Multijet II diesels.
This Egea saloon, with more than 500 litres of boot capacity, stands a lengthier 4.54 metres from stem to stern. At a time when Fiat is dividing up and reassessing its model range internationally as either ‘aspirational’ (500, 124 Spider) or ‘functional’ (Panda and Doblo), there’s no doubt into which camp this new sedan
What's it like to drive?
The first thing worth noting is that in appearance, for a supposedly bread and butter model, the Egea is surprisingly upscale. The front end, dominated by the attractive full-width grille, narrow headlights and sculptured bonnet, packs the kind of premium look that was never seen on previous Fiats.
Much the same can be said for the elegant tail end, with its sloping rear glass, and sculptured roofline. The Egea was designed in Italy first and foremost as a saloon; it’s not a converted hatch with boot tacked on. If the sides and, in particular, the rear door and glass area, with Hofmeister kink, carry echoes of BMWs past, buyers out there probably won’t complain too much.
Through the streets of Turin, along the autostrada and up through the hills of Asti, the Egea proved to be a solid if unremarkable car to drive. That’s with the top 1.6 turbodiesel on board and standard six-speed manual gearbox (automatic and dual-clutch automatic options are also available).
True, there was good pace from the gutsy 1.6 engine, but the lack of steering sharpness through turns was a surprise. So too was the amount of road noise, especially from the back of the car. The gearchange was also mediocre. Maybe the 1.4 petrol (which we didn’t try) would do better, being lighter on its feet and traditionally quieter.
But Fiat has not set out to build a driver’s car. Instead the formula here is based around rationality, roominess, content, running costs and (an expectedly) competitive transaction price. The cabin is comfortable, the dashboard looks and feels good, the instruments are clear and interior and boot space are above average. There will also be two infotainment levels depending on variant.
Will it come to India?
Our first time out with the Fiat Egea/Tipo in Turin has revealed that style and comfort are good. It’s maybe not the most refined car out there, but it still has the makings of a decent all-around proposition as a straightforward family car.
For India, the Fiat Linea sedan is nearing the end of its lifecycle. The carmaker is currently evaluating between the Egea sedan or the South American Grand Siena. The new Egea is currently only available as a left-hand drive and to launch it in India, Fiat will have to invest in tooling for a right-hand-drive (RHD) version which will be hard to justify if India is the only market for the RHD car. All-in-all, we think this new sedan could just be the right model the company needs that could facilitate higher sales in our market and give it a proper “comeback” which Fiat has been looking for since a long time.