From £9,6556

What Fiat refers to as the ‘Fiat Punto’ began life in 2005 as the Grande Punto and was facelifted to become the Punto Evo. Now, it has had another nose-and-tail job (returning it close to its original look) to become the plain Fiat Punto. Still with us? Good.

A mild re-trim and re-fresh of the interior was once met with a wider choice of engines to complete the changes, however that it has been condensed to a mere two choices. The full list comprises of 1.2-litre 8-valve petrol (68bhp) and a 1.4-litre 8-valve petrol (76bhp).

Strangely, Fiat has done away with the diesel units that would normally be found under most mid-sized family hatchbacks, but also the newest addition to the Punto range was the TwinAir unit borrowed from the 500. Under our examination, the 0.9-litre, two-cylinder unit performed admirably and didn't feel short of breath as one may imagine it would.

The highlight of the range now is the non-turbo, 77bhp version of the 1.4-litre MultiAir engine, which feels strong, smooth and torquey. Push away from the lights and the front-drive Punto feels much more agile enough, at least in the bottom half of its rev range.

But these remaining petrol engines are nowhere near as good as the 1.3 Multijet diesel, which came in 74bhp and 85bhp guises, was under the bonnet. Using a common rail injection process with up to eight individual cycles, it is exceptionally quiet, free revving and, in top-of-the-line guise, imbued with solid slab of mid-range poke, providing the new Fiat better cruising credentials, outstanding in-gear performance and decent economy.

The Punto’s on-road performance, is rather less beguiling. The steering is lightly weighted at the rim but it also conveys a sense of disconnection. Steer into a roundabout or a fast bend, and you are never quite sure of position of the front wheels. At speed, the Punto is quite hard to place accurately.

Pushing through a series of bends, the Punto demonstrates a degree of nicely rising lateral grip, but you don’t feel you can exploit it because the car rolls a reasonable amount and because of the lack of confidence in the whereabouts of the front end. The ride wasn’t half bad, though, especially on the very poor surfaces near Fiat’s Balocco test track. This car lopes along pretty well.

As for the standard equipment levels, there are two to choose from - Pop+ and Easy+. The entry-level model gets air conditioning, Bluetooth, USB connectivity, 15in alloy wheels and electric front windows as standard, while the Easy+ adds 16in alloys, climate control, front fog lights and a TomTom sat nav system.

It’s an intriguing car. Decently spacious for a supermini, nippy and, with the right engine, particularly characterful. And the showroom price is competitive. But the driving dynamics are decidedly humdrum.

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Aston Martin DB11 V8
    First Drive
    22 November 2017
    Aston's decision to utilise AMG's 4.0-litre V8 struck us as an inspired one initially, but will a drive on UK roads change our minds?
  • Volvo XC40 cornering
    First Drive
    21 November 2017
    Volvo’s XC40 arrives in the premium compact SUV segment and hits the right note with design, practicality and driving style
  • Jaguar E-Pace D180
    First Drive
    19 November 2017
    Not the driver’s car many would hope from any car wearing the Jaguar badge, but the E-Pace is an attractive and interesting addition to the compact premium SUV ranks
  • Jaguar E-Pace P300
    First Drive
    19 November 2017
    Jaguar’s second SUV faces up to the Audi Q3, BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLA. Tough task, so is the E-Pace up to it?
  • Subaru Impreza
    First Drive
    17 November 2017
    The fifth-generation Subaru Impreza is much improved from top to bottom, but a poor engine and gearbox keep it trailing in this competitive class