From £9,655
Upgraded Grande Punto with the first atmo Multair petrol engine

Our Verdict

Fiat Punto
The Fiat Punto has had a mild refresh and new engine choices for 2012

Decently spacious for a supermini, with a good range of engines, but the Punto's driving dynamics are less-than beguiling

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12 October 2009

What is it?

This is the facelifted Grande Punto, which - as covered in Autocar’s review of the MultiJet II version - includes a mild uglification of the front end, the adoption of LED daytime running lights, an integrated TomTom navigation docking station, an extra airbag for the driver’s knees and more oddments space inside the cabin. You can even keep track of your fuel economy and your driving style with an online-based advice program.

Yet, with the rigid steel monocoque body and the suspension only lightly fiddled, it’s the engines that star. It is a big step forward from previous base engines in the Grande Punto and it might point to a way out of the fuel-consumption and short-range doldrums of petrol engines.

What's it like?

Fiat claims the Punto Evo (a natural successor to the Grande Punto, even though the superseded car will stay on to cover Fiat’s flank from Korean and Chinese attacks) is a breakthrough car, and it’s hard to argue. Quite simply, a 104bhp 1.4-litre engine with no force-feeding assistance has no right to feel this strong.

It boxes with so much cleverness that it feels comfortably larger. The direct-action, hydraulically activated inlet valves give it dollops of torque right where you need dollops of torque and the short gearing on the five-speed manual ‘box helps, too.

It’s smooth, too, and there’s barely a tremor at idle. Push away from the lights and the front-drive Punto Evo feels much more like a 2.0-litre engine in its character, at least in the bottom half of its rev range.

Up to around 4000rpm, it moves the five-door hatch purposefully and refuses every offered excuse to shudder, strain or lapse into harshness.

It helps that the gearing is so short, but Fiat figures the lower-powered, non-turbo Punto Evos will live most of their lives in cities, so straining at higher revs on the highway is a small price to pay for what is effectively cheap, urban muscle.

So, if 77bhp (at 6000rpm) and 85lb ft of torque (at 3250rpm) seem like a tiny numbers in this day and age, it’s coming from an engine that is unstressed and feels it every inch of the way. Sprinting to 62mph is, obviously, not a forte, but its combined fuel consumption is down at 52.3mpg, with just 132g/km as well.

It will stretch across the traditional sprint in 13.2 seconds and will top out at just 103mph, but it’s more about rolling in-gear acceleration than outright speed. And, in rolling in-gear acceleration, it’s more than strong enough in normal traffic.

Another sign of its city focus is the addition of Start&Stop, Fiat’s take on the fuel-saving technology that is sweeping through Europe’s car industry. This version works if you come to a halt, pop the gear lever into neutral and release the clutch. Then, once you push the clutch pedal back in, it will have the engine re-fired before you’ve shifted back into first gear.

While its two-stage steering system (you can push a button for lighter city steering) is silly and over-complicating things, the steering itself is accurate and light and the suspension upgrades see it walk across hard-edged bumps with far more assurance than the old car.

The seats, though, are perhaps the only truly disappointing aspect of the car. They are flat and unsupportive and not particularly comfortable in any situation.

Should I buy one?

For all the good points, though, the core problem still remains for Fiat: petrol engines in small cars are seen (especially on the continent) as coming from the budget-conscious playlist.

And if it’s just the best Punto Evo you’re after, you'll take the 1.3-litre MultiJet II turbo-diesel.

Michael Taylor

Join the debate

Comments
15

13 October 2009

just a usual Autocar review. You can sense preconceived notions about Fiat.... I think it looks wonderful and am sure drives wonderful as well. I would translate a mainland Europe auto-review in google and see what they say about this new Fiat.

13 October 2009

[quote ambs123] I think it looks wonderful [/quote]

I'm a fan of Fiat too but c'mon!

You really should have went to Specsavers.

Where has all Japanese design went to?

13 October 2009

[quote Zeddy]

[quote ambs123] I think it looks wonderful [/quote]

I'm a fan of Fiat too but c'mon!

You really should have went to Specsavers.
[/quote]

Yes, i agree. Somebody else on another thread said it looks like it has been Chryslered and I agree.

That new engine is impressive though.

13 October 2009

i dont see why autocar is raving about so much the fiats 1.4 !!, my old 2002 corolla had 96bhp and did 0-60 in a much faster time, it also was amazing on fuel even thought it had no torque. this fiat is 7 years newer but its 1.4 is not so amazing

13 October 2009

specs sound off, reckon autocar cocked up, my 02 Punto sporting 1.2 16v had 80bhp and 85lbs ft torque, surely the 1.4 multiair should be better?

looking around it seems the multiair it should be nearer 105bhp, probably why it felt stronger than any 77bhp 1.4 should :D , the 65 and 77bhp punto engines are 8v with no multiair.

14 October 2009

[quote sandys]

specs sound off, reckon autocar cocked up, my 02 Punto sporting 1.2 16v had 80bhp and 85lbs ft torque, surely the 1.4 multiair should be better?

looking around it seems the multiair it should be nearer 105bhp, probably why it felt stronger than any 77bhp 1.4 should :D , the 65 and 77bhp punto engines are 8v with no multiair.

[/quote]

It seems like you are correct! According to http://www.netcarshow.com/fiat/2010-punto_evo/ there is a 77bhp 1.4 but it is not MultiAir. The lowest powered MultiAir Punto is 105bhp.

Maybe someone from Autocar will verify which is correct?

The comments section needs a makeover... how about a forum??

14 October 2009

Are you sure it was a Fiat? Just checked on www.Fiat.it prices for Italian market are scary.

14 October 2009

i thought a facelift was meant to freshen up its appearnce not make it look like a frog! im sorry fiat but this is a step back the old one looked much better! but then they have done this before with multipla i remember sales declined of that model after an uglification too (Although it was never beautiful anyway) but they made it worse after the facelift!

14 October 2009

[quote Rich_uk]

[quote sandys]

specs sound off, reckon autocar cocked up, my 02 Punto sporting 1.2 16v had 80bhp and 85lbs ft torque, surely the 1.4 multiair should be better?

looking around it seems the multiair it should be nearer 105bhp, probably why it felt stronger than any 77bhp 1.4 should :D , the 65 and 77bhp punto engines are 8v with no multiair.

[/quote]

It seems like you are correct! According to http://www.netcarshow.com/fiat/2010-punto_evo/ there is a 77bhp 1.4 but it is not MultiAir. The lowest powered MultiAir Punto is 105bhp.

Maybe someone from Autocar will verify which is correct?

[/quote]

Now that seems more like it, good reporting skills Rich_uk. I hope autocar can confirm if this is the 77bhp or 105 bhp road test

14 October 2009

[quote VX220EDDIE] i thought a facelift was meant to freshen up its appearnce not make it look like a frog! im sorry fiat but this is a step back the old one looked much better! but then they have done this before with multipla [/quote]

....and the previous Punto, and the Uno before that. Seems that once they have a successful design, Fiat cannot resist fiddling with it unnecessarily.

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