Decently spacious for a supermini, with a good range of engines, but the Punto's driving dynamics are less-than beguiling
What is it?
The reworked Fiat Grande Punto, sampled in full-on ‘Eleganza’ spec, bringing all the trimmings.
Power comes from the 119bhp version of Fiat’s familiar 1.9-litre ‘Multijet’ diesel engine. Eleganza trim adds ESP, cruise control, rain sensing wipers and tasty-looking 16-inch alloys.
There’s a new ‘Blue&Me’ entertainment system now fitted as standard, giving the Punto hands-free phone and MP3 capabilities.
But the most compelling addition is a new, Hyundai-style unlimited mileage five year warranty.
What’s it like?
Copious standard equipment spices up the spacious cabin and makes the Grande Punto feel more upmarket than before. The awkward driving position will present a comfort issue for taller drivers, however.
Adding sharp 16-inch alloys risks compromising ride quality, but we found our test car to be supple enough over most road surfaces.
The familiar 1.9-litre Multijet offers adequate performance, with a useful 206lb ft delivered after 2000rpm. It’ll manage 0-62mph in 10 seconds, and there’s more than enough mid-range urge for decently rapid progress.
Bad news? Well the ageing diesel engine’s noisy rattle intrudes into the cabin. If it didn’t the Grande Punto would be very refined, as wind and tyre noise are kept low at motorway speeds – but the boorish engine really knocks the driving experience.
The good news is that the Grande Punto still corners adeptly and safely, with understeer and body roll kept in check.
The electric power steering still feels over-light, and the brake pedal action needs finessing. On the plus side, the claimed 50.4mpg combined fuel economy is easily achievable in everyday driving.
Should I buy one?
The Grande Punto still looks elegant, it’s decent to drive, spacious, cheap to run and backed up by one of the best warranties in the business.
But it’s also starting to look and feel its age, and we reckon that unless you’re intending to cover mega-mileages, the Grande Punto is a much stronger proposition with a zippy petrol engine under the bonnet.