Tested – Fiat Tipo 1.3L D Easy Sedan

Time is not a kind master. Everything and everyone is victim to its harsh whipping with the only mitigation against the sentence being the ability to evolve and re-invent – the constant struggle for eternal youth.

In the automotive sphere it is most demonstrated by a company that tops the sales charts for a period of time and then fails to make that re-invention quickly enough and is lashed into submission as an also-ran in just a couple of years.

Fiat in South Africa has been through this from the heady days of innovative and iconic models offerings such as the 124 Sport through the mass hysteria love affair with the Uno to a period of dreadfully bland product and such quiet only the neon lights at dealerships affirmed the brand was actually still alive.

True, in all of that the company itself – both locally and internationally – underwent changes and started to work the process of re-invention, the 500 and Abarth part of that.

However, mass market is the true goal of a major automaker and Fiat needed to put something into play that would satisfy customers not just within its European orbit but in other markets as well.

Enter the Fiat Tipo.

The Fiat Tipo hatchback and its sedan sibling mark Fiat’s return to the medium-compact segment with four sedan variants and four hatch models.

Our test car, the diesel-powered 1.3L Easy came in Ambient White, which actually served to enhance the contour lines of the car and attract some parking lot attention. It is 4,53 m long, 1,79 m wide and stands 1,5 m high so is fully C-segment in dimensions.

On price – R274 900 – it is bracketed by the Hyundai Accent 1.6 Fluid (R269 900), Mazda3 1.6 Active (R271 700), Ford Focus 1.0 Trend (R271 900) and the Volkswagen Jetta 1.6 Conceptline (R278 300) in terms of sedans. There are several hatch offerings in the same price grouping.

The Fiat, however, is the only diesel in that mix.

The 1.3 MultiJet II diesel engine has a Start&Stop system as standard. It is equipped with a manual five-speed gearbox and develops 70 kW at 3 750 r/min, while the variable geometry turbo-charger ensures high torque from low revs and a maximum torque of 200 Nm from 1 500 r/min.

A feature of the third-generation Common Rail MultiJet II system is a high-tech solution for controlling injection pressures, whatever the engine speed and injected fuel quantity. In practice, the engine introduces small fuel quantities (pilot injections) to minimise noise and optimise emissions and, with the main injection, manages the injected quantity of fuel ensuring smooth engine operation in all driving conditions.

That is the theory. In practice, despite the willingness of the engine to work, it was a little breathless and left me looking for more. It is also driven through a 5-speed manual gearbox when six is the norm even for smaller capacity engines.

At the upper end of the rev range there is also a bit more diesel clatter – that, perhaps, would be quieted with the inclusion of an additional ratio.

The Fiat Tipo hatchback measures 4,37 m in length, 1,79 m in width and stands 1,50m high, while the sedan measures 4,53 m in length with the width and height the same as the hatchback.

The new car features a suspension layout made up of independent McPherson struts on the front axle and an interconnected torque beam on the rear. The two layouts are optimised to reduce weight and contribute to improved fuel efficiency, without compromising the dynamic driving experience.

I cannot fault that setup and the Tipo was comfortable to drive on long and short-haul journeys, the cloth-clad driver’s seat offering enough bolstering in the right places to minimise journey fatigue and with enough movement options to find an ideal driving position.

Never designed for real press-on motoring, the Tipo has a top speed of 183 km/h and ambles up to 100 km/h in 11,8 seconds.

More significant as a commuter vehicle it is a fuel sipper. Fiat claims 4,5 l/100 km in the urban cycle and 3,7 l/100 km overall. Reality was a little tougher and our urban measurement was 4,8 l/100 km with overall 4,1 l/100 km.

Allowed to get on the plane in its own time, the diesel engine finds a happy place that permits long stints of sustained cruising up hill and down dale with no need to row it along – it also sits nice and flat through the curves with little body movement.

In tighter sections, it does opt for understeer, but nothing outside of a controllable norm.

The Tipo accommodates five passengers, even tall people up to 1,87 m in height at the front and 1,80 m in the rear travel in comfort. The secret, according to Fiat, is the regular shape of the rear end, with the horizontal roof profile providing passengers added cabin headroom. Legroom is also class leading, with 1,07 m between the edge of the front seat and the passenger’s heel and 934 mm for the rear seat.

In fact, the interior dimensions edge it closer to those offered by D-Class sedans.

The load capacity is also impressive with 520 litres available. The boot sill is low and stepless, to facilitate loading even the bulkiest of packages. At the sides of the luggage compartment two panels for holding small items can be removed to further increase the width of the luggage compartment.

The interior of the Tipo features numerous compartments with a variety of shapes and capacities totalling no less than 12 litres. Easily reachable by driver and passengers, these compartments are perfect for storing personal objects, smartphones, bottles, coins and more. Furthermore, a media centre for connecting devices is situated in front of the gear lever.

The Tipo features the latest-generation audio systems including a hands-free Bluetooth interface, audio streaming, text reader and voice recognition, AUX and USB ports with iPod integration, controls on the steering wheel and, on demand, the optional rear parking camera and the new TomTom 3D built-in navigation system is optionally available on all models except the Easy.

Standard items include automatic air-conditioning, power front windows, electrically adjustable door mirrors with defrosting function, 16″ alloy rims, LED daytime running lights, chrome door handles, body-coloured mirror covers and a leather steering wheel.

Active and passive safety devices include driver and front passenger air bags (with side and curtain air bags as an option).

Also standard is electronic stability control (ESC), that  includes system includes Panic Brake Assist (PBA), which intervenes in case of emergency braking by increasing the braking force; anti-lock braking; traction control (TCS) and Hill Start Assist.

All Fiat Tipo models come with a standard 3-year / 100 000 km warranty and service plan.

KEY FIGURES

Displacement:   1 248 cc

Power:              70 kW at 4 000 r/min

Torque:             200 Nm at 1 500 r/min

CO2:                 117 g/km

Fuel Tank:         45 litres

Price:                R274 900

Lease:              R5 660

Hyundai Elantra Sport

Ardent followers of fashion fuel a giant industry that ensures they will never be seen in last season’s outfits and the endless pursuit of being at the cutting edge is more than a lifestyle, sometimes bordering on fanaticism.

For some, the extension of apparel goes to the choice of the car they drive and further to how they accessorise this.

Fashion in the auto industry takes a much more leisurely pace and we all know how the dramatic and daring concepts gracing auto shows eventually come to market as watered down accountant inspired shadows of their former selves.

That so many cars in each of the market segments end up looking so very similar and kept well within the bounds of conservatism is understandable as nobody buying a car over four or five years wants that to be dated and outshone by a new fashion design just a few months down the line.

So, having evolved from concept through creation, what is left to make the owner statement is the small and subtle tweaks – such as those applied to the Hyundai Elantra Sport to set it apart from the new and revised range.

The entire range has been significantly updated with a completely new look and underpinnings.

The 2017 Elantra enters the South African market in four derivatives: The Elantra 1.6 Executive manual and Elantra 1.6 Executive automatic (both driven by a 1,6-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine); the Elantra 2.0 Elite, with a naturally aspirated 2,0-litre petrol engine and the range-topping Elantra 1.6 TGDI Elite DCT Sport, with a 1,6-litre turbo-charged petrol engine.

Both specification levels – Executive and Elite – offer comprehensive features, which are all included in the recommended retail prices, starting at R299 900 and ending at R399 900 for the Elantra Sport with several special design, trim and technical characteristics.

Hyundai’s signature hexagonal grille gives the Elantra a strong presence from the front, with automatic projection headlamps including LED Daytime Running lights as part of the cluster. The Elantra’s sporty lower front fascia integrates functional front wheel air curtains that help manage air flow from the front of the vehicle and around the wheels to minimize turbulence and wind resistance.

In addition, underbody covers, an aerodynamic rear bumper bottom spoiler and rear deck lid designed with an expanded trunk edge contribute to the Elantra’s 0,27 coefficient of drag.

Model-exclusive front and rear fascias give the Sport crucial visual differentiation from the rest of the Elantra lineup.

For the Elantra Sport, a different bottom half of the rear bumper reiterates its sporty nature, with a unique skid plate and visible chrome-plated dual exhaust pipes.

All four derivatives’ gain leather seats with model-specific interior appointments such as a flat-bottomed steering wheel, red sport seats and red contrast stitching for the Sport.

The standard 8-inch infotainment system, which includes satellite navigation, provides a USB Mirror Link for Android cell phones, HDMI connectivity for iPhones to view the iPhone screen on the head unit, hands-free Bluetooth telephone link with remote controls on the steering wheel, Bluetooth music streaming and AUX and USB input ports. It also features a CD player.

Electrically operated side mirrors and windows, cruise control and rear park assist are also standard convenience features across the range. The Elite derivatives have an automatic air-conditioner, rain sensors for the windscreen wipers, and a smart key push-button to start the engine.

The turbo-charged 1 591 cm3 four-cylinder engine in the Elantra 1.6 TGDI Elite DCT Sport produces 150 kW at 6 000 r/min and 265 Nm torque from 1 500 r/min to 4 500 r/min.

This is the same engine as used in the Veloster and it works well in the bigger body of the Elantra, producing the right level of roar when running in Sport mode – there are options of Eco and Normal modes for drivers looking to maximise fuel efficiency.

The Elantra 1.6 TGDI Elite Sport has a 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission with paddle shifters and, while this does inspire some vigorous driving, the gearbox will make the upshift as the red line is reached with no driver discretion permitted.

That said, it may not be the perfect point-and-squirt racer, but it does well in longer swoops and curves where the rear multi-link independent suspension combines with the front McPherson strut with coil springs and gas shock absorbers along with a front stabiliser bar to help reduce body roll when cornering.

The Elantra, by no means a hatch, is not intended as a challenge to the hot hatches out there – think of it as a precursor to the Hyundai i30 N likely to be powered by a turbo-charged 2,0-litre engine ofeering at least 194 kW and 309 Nm of torque.

The powerplant will be mated with a manual transmission with a possibility of a dual-clutch automatic transmission being introduced at a later stage. The i30 N is expected to be a front-wheel driven model, but an all-wheel-drive configuration has not been ruled out – but this will just have to wait until next year at least.

Improved ride comfort, handling and stability are achieved through Elantra’s redesigned rear suspension geometry that modifies the angle of the rear shock absorbers and changed the position of the coil springs on the coupled torsion beam axle. Additionally, an increase in rear bushing diameter helps to improve long term durability.

Fuel economy ranges around 7,9 l/100 km in ‘normal’ driving conditions.

An anti-lock braking system with Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) is standard, with the addition of an Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) in the Elantra Sport.

Passive safety is taken care of by driver, front passenger, side and curtain air bags.

Hyundai’s 5-year/150 000 km warranty and additional 2-year/500 powertrain warranty is part of the standard package, which also includes 5-year/150 000 km roadside assistance and a 5-year/90 000 km service plan.

Service intervals are 15 000 km for all derivatives, with an additional initial service after 5 000 km for the Elantra Sport.

Better with time

Audi A5 2.0T FSI Sport STronic

Latin and I never really gelled at school. I thought it was a pretty useless language and, to borrow a line from a film whose name I have long since forgotten, “I couldn’t speak to a dead Roman even if I wanted to…”

Apart from Amo, Amas, Amat and Veni, Vidi, Vici, there is little from those endlessly boring school classes that remains – yet, oddly enough, both memory fragments are particularly valid in this impression of the Audi A5.

Certainly, in the South African market, Audi still does not quite have the bonnet badge cred of its German counterparts but in so many ways, it epitomises the second of those Latin words, having come, seen and conquered.

The evolution of the Audi range of sedans, hatches and SUV’s has been a carefully planned staging to respond to buyer preferences and changing trends without appearing to be chasing the market in what its major rivals were up to.

Out of this came the original A5 – a car that, in 2007, stood the B-segment on its head with a left-of-field design.

Ten years later, comes the second generation – now with a new, honed look that is athletic, sporty and elegant, while its design goes hand-in-hand with sophisticated aerodynamics. Under the skin, the Audi A5 impresses with an all-new chassis, innovative infotainment features and driver assistance systems.

The new Audi A5 Coupé sports a fresh and modern look. It is nevertheless true to its DNA with the sporty – the wave-shaped shoulder line that characterised the previous model now given a 3D look.

The proportions remain balanced with the long engine hood, stretched wheelbase and short overhangs hinting at the sportiness of the A5 Coupé. The sculpted single frame grille is significantly flatter and wider than in the previous model.

The four-cylinder 2.0T FSI engine produces 140 kW and 320 Nm of torque, accelerating from 0 to 100 km/h in 7.7 seconds. This engine has a claimed combined fuel consumption of 5,1 l/100 km, while being exempt from CO2 tax with an emissions figure of 117 g/km.

Real world testing moved that claimed figure to around 6,6 l/100 km/h and that was only through exercising some restraint – I can think of no earthly reason actually to want to drive this car anything less than vigorously.

The all-new chassis offers comfort combined with a high degree of agility. The A5 thus handles narrow, winding mountain roads and long trips with equal aplomb – helped considerably the slick seven-speed STronic gearbox.

Left to its own devices, it starts to grow an intuitive feel for driver habits and responds swiftly to those inputs to the throttle and brakes. For those who want to, manual control is there for the taking.

I, however, found the response time quick enough not to need the manual option for most levels of driving – even doing the adrenalin injection thing through some superlative twisties.

The electromechanical power steering is also a new development from Audi. It adapts according to the vehicle’s current speed and provides highly precise road feedback. Optionally available is the dynamic steering, which varies its gear ratio depending on the speed and steering angle.

On the new car, engineers were able to trim the curb weight by as much as 60 kilograms and the body is the lightest in the competitive field. With a drag coefficient of 0,25, the A5 Coupé is also the segment leader with respect to aerodynamics.

The increased dimensions and longer wheelbase mean more space for driver and passengers, while the luggage compartment offers a volume of 465 litres, 10 litres more than with the previous model. The rear seat has a 40:20:40 split and can be easily folded forward using levers in the luggage compartment. Audi also offers the two-door coupé with optional gesture control for opening the luggage compartment lid via a foot motion. The optional trailer hitch is electrically released at the press of a button.

Our test car was fitted with the optional Audi virtual cockpit, a 12,3-inch TFT display with a resolution of 1,440 x 540 pixels. Together with the MMI navigation plus including 8,3-inch monitor on the centre console, it forms the central information unit.

The whole MMI control logic is similar to that of a smartphone, including the intelligent free text search function. The new, more natural voice control system can recognize input made using everyday language.

Choosing MMI navigation plus automatically gets the hardware module Audi connect, which allows the vehicle to be a Wi-Fi hotspot for up to 8 devices, while also accessing Google Earth Navigation and Google Street View.

Standard on the 2.0T FSI 140 kW are items such 17 inch alloy wheels, space-saving spare wheel, Leather steering wheel in 3-spoke design with multifunction plus, Audi drive select, ISOFIX child seat mounting anchorage point for outer rear seats, full size air bags with front passenger air bag deactivation, side air bags at front and head air bag system, Xenon plus headlights and LED rear lights, cruise control, headlight washers, Automatic air-conditioning, driver information system with colour display, Audi sound system and leather/artificial leather combination.

A suitably comprehensive package and the price of our unit as tested came to R795 470.