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Muddy drives: the Fiat Tipo Station Wagon

Do you read car reviews? No, me neither. Because they’re not really aimed at us, are they?  It struck me recently because the Muddies are hugely embarrassed about my current set of wheels (don’t know why – you can’t see what it is under all the mud) but it did start me wondering what cars were on the market these days. So I read a couple of reviews about, you know, cylinders, horsepower, and *snorrrrrrrre*….. had a very pleasant mid-afternoon nod off as a result.

In which case it’s *raspberries* to traditional reviews. I’ve decided to write my own – low on lingo and high on practical info for us lot. Yes, mes amis, welcome to the very first Muddy Somerset car review. OK, rev it up baby, here we go.img_8601

THE FIAT TIPO STATION WAGON

The basics: I was driving the 1.6 MultiJet 120HP Easy Plus, one of six Fiat Tipo Station Wagon models. It’s a 5-door estate, with 6-gear manual gearbox and a diesel engine (most models are manual but you can get an automatic or dual clutch, and a petrol engine). It came with electronic windows, cruise control, air-con, parking sensors,  DAB radio and Bluetooth connectivity, plus some electro-wizardry (more of that in a mo).img_8592

The drive: Smooth and easy on both fast roads and wibbly wobbly country lanes, with responsive steering wheel and foot controls. Great visibility out the front. It’s comfortable too, lots of leg room front and back, with a clever roof design (it’s sort of grooved) to give more headroom for taller back seat passengers. img_8657img_8658

Surprise, surprise:  The boot is huge (550 litres, which I reckon could fit several large suitcases and a pushchair) with side pockets and hooks for all the junk, er, I mean essential items needed on every trip.  If you lift up the floor of the boot, there’s another compartment below and then yet more space around the spare tyre (no jokes about my own, please). If you fold the back seats flat (either just one seat, two together or all) you’ll have enough room (it’s 1.8m long) to bring back most of a flatpack kitchen from IKEA.img_8595img_8596img_8598img_8659

The tecky bits:  The Tipo Station Wagon can go from from 0-62mph in 10.1 seconds (not that I did that) and goes up to 124mph (nor that). As to fuel economy, my day out included a hack up and down the A303, some smaller A-roads and a lot of country lanes and the car did just around 53mpg, although its official mpg is 76mpg.  Eco-credentials are sound: the car meets the Euro 6 exhaust emissions standards and has a environmental impact score or NGC rating of 34 which makes it pretty green. Co2 emissions of 98 g/km put it into car tax band A, so you don’t pay tax for the first year or for 2016/17.img_8602

Safety:  I almost always have kids in the car so this is important for me. The Tipo’s got all the mandatory safety equipment, like electronic stability, 6 airbags, anti-lock brakes, ISOFIX for child seats plus fog lights, a tyre pressure monitoring system and rear parking sensors (which prevented me from reversing into a swanky sports car). You can upgrade with safety packs which include options to set cruising speeds and safe distances from the car in front, brake control systems which detect obstacles and will auto-brake even if you don’t and a ‘speed limiter’ which prevents you going over the speed limit.

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Cool stuff: There’s some nifty gadgetry. The 5″ Uconnect touchscreen has a TomTom Live satnav and an eco-Drive feature which shows you how environmentally sound – or not –you’re driving.  You’re rated on acceleration, deceleration, speed and shifting (gear-changing to you and me). Colours change according to how green your driving is, with red being the worst, through yellow and pale green to bright green as the best. Leaves fall off (or grow back on) the little tree showing your overall eco-driving for each trip. If you download the free Uconnect app to your smartphone it records each trip so you can keep a check on how you’re doing over a period of time.img_8637

You can also view info about the car’s performance and service status. Bluetooth connects your smartphone, so you can make and receive calls or send texts by voice command and listen to your own playlists – all controlled onscreen and by buttons on the steering wheel.  There’s a DAB radio and USB and AUX-in points for iPods etc 3.  If you’ve downloaded the free Uconnect app, you can also stream music via Deezer and TuneIn, listen to Reuters news – and keep track of your Facebook and Twitter accounts (Muddy likey!). Lots to play with here.img_8651THE MUDDY VERDICT

Good for:  Goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that the overall spaciousness and practicality with some useful/fun features make this a brilliant family car. It’d be good for anyone with dogs (the boot’s palatial) or for those who want to cart around sports equipment or other bulky stuff (with the back seats down you’ve almost got yourself a van).  Anyone wanting an estate car with good green credentials.

Not for: Boy racers. While its 0-60 speed at just over 10 secs is respectable, it probably wouldn’t be the first choice for someone who wants to burn up rubber on the motorway.

£££  Starts at £13,995. The mid-range 1.6 MultiJet 120HP Easy Plus costs £18,245 (+ £250 for the touchscreen set up) and you can buy extras like the additional safety packs. For another £1000, you’ll go up a model and get extras like automatic lights and wipers, a reversing camera, slightly bigger wheels and a bit of chrome here and there plus leather seats etc but the performance is much the same.

Fancy a test drive? Go on then, and tell me what you think!

Vale Motors, Saxon Way, Wincanton Business Park, Saxon Way, Wincanton BA9 9RT, Tel 01963 34034. fjchalke.co.uk

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