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Fiat celebrates 30 years of the Tipo

Automation makes its mark

On 26 January 2018, the Fiat Tipo celebrates its 30th anniversary: 30 years of life and success. To celebrate the anniversary of this mother of all Fiat mid-sized modern cars, let’s retrace its history.

On 26 January 1988, Fiat pushed out the boat for the presentation to the international press of the Fiat Tipo, the Turin-based company’s new mid-sized car. The company organised a satellite television conference linking the Mirafiori office of Vittorio Ghidella—then CEO of Fiat Auto—to packed-out press rooms in Frankfurt, Madrid, London, Paris and Rome. After the conference, all the journalists were able to try out the new cars in their respective cities.

The Fiat Tipo was originally created as a hatchback with five seats, a very long wheelbase (254 mm) and wheels positioned at the corners to maximise the interior space. It was the first Fiat with body panels that were galvanised on both sides to protect the most exposed areas, accounting for over 75% of the car’s surface. Standout features included a modern tailgate made of plastic materials, making it lightweight, rust-free and easy to open without any effort. Great attention was paid to aerodynamics: the Tipo had the lowest drag coefficient in its class (Cx 0.31). But the Tipo’s main highlight was a spacious interior that was easily accessible due to the 80-degree opening angle of the front and rear doors, while the large glazed area provided remarkable visibility.

Benefiting from an investment of 2000 billion lire, most of which went into automating the production plants in Cassino, the Tipo was marketed as a car that was technologically innovative, functional due to its large interior spaces, robust and safe thanks to its high-strength steel architecture, and adaptable to different needs with its broad range of five economical and efficient engines, comprising three petrol (1.1 56 hp, 1.4 71 hp and 1.6 82 hp) and two diesel power units (1.7 58 hp and 1.9 turbodiesel 90 hp). 

The new car was offered in two trim levels. The trim levels and versions were externally discernible by means of minor differences in bodywork and identification badges next to the side marker lights. Other distinctive markings were deliberately omitted so that the Tipo badge alone would convey the model’s substantial novelty value and sophisticated content.

The digital dashboard and, above all, the combination of Anti-Skid traction control and ABS were the technological hallmarks of the Fiat Tipo, in addition to innovative interior ergonomics and sporty features in the Sedicivalvole (16-valve) versions.

Other high-tech features included a fully digital dashboard in the ‘Digit’ trim level, as well as an electronic Anti-Skid traction control device for the first time in a car of this class, which was produced by Bosch and integrated into the ABS system to prevent the wheels from locking up when braking. All the interior switches and controls for the front and rear lights and windscreen wipers were conveniently incorporated into the two new “devio-Fiat” stalks symmetrically positioned behind the steering wheel, leaving only the climate controls on the dashboard. Another innovation was the five-speed manual transmission, which was completely redesigned to reduce vibration and noise, improving its coupling speed and precision.

The first series was produced from January 1988 to March 1993 and expanded with 1.8 and 2.0 petrol engines featuring electronic fuel injection and four valves per cylinder, that delivered 136 hp in the 1.8 variant and 145 hp in the 2.0 model. These sportier models were identified were identified by the name Sedicivalvole and a ‘16V’ badge. The second series was produced from 1993 to 1995, with all remaining engines modified to comply with Euro 1 regulations and new 3-door versions introduced for the sportier models.

Thirty years ago, the Fiat Tipo 30 was the product of an innovative project with diverse but complementary parameters. The Fiat engineers devised a model that offered an uncompromisingly high level of driveability, performance, comfort and safety, while paying unprecedented attention to ergonomics. The Tipo stood out for its roominess, accessibility, driving position, seat configuration, visibility, well-sited controls and readable instruments. The driver and passengers were placed right at the centre of the project. In addition, the Tipo excelled due to its precise construction, owing to innovative and highly automated production technologies, as well as the use of premium materials that delivered great reliability and consistently long-lasting quality.

Inspired by the founding valuesof the Tipo and its construction philosophy, the Fiat brand revived the name for its latest mid-segment car, which was unveiled in 2015 and is available in three body styles: 4 Doors (saloon), 5 Doors (hatchback) and Station Wagon. The qualities and spirit of the original Tipo have been distilled and updated to combine exceptional roominess, practicality and functionality with best-in-class prices and running costs.

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