Old stager gets more toys and better warranty, but loud engine disappoints

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.

Will Powell

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ambs 8 November 2008

Re: Fiat Grande Punto 1.9 Multijet

I agree with simon and Kerrecoe. I mean Grande punto!!! come on, its the oldest among the new crop of hatches but i dont agree that it has started to loose its sheen a bit...Look at the Clio or even a corsa, and just put a GP in front of these so called, class leaders... even a layman will admit that GP is better looking than any of them... The problem with GP here in UK is that its a fiat.... thats why being a fiat, we must and should cry for some niggle or other....We are British afterall... I agree with Kerrecoe totally that the plastics are hard, therefore the quality is poor....it may be just the theme of the interior...

I must admit just one fact about fiat and that is, its dealerships. I happen to be there, because a friend of mine wanted to drive the Bravo. Now these guys (Colliers in B'ham), share a fiat dealership with some other manufacturer ( I think mazda and seat), the salesman barely knew anything about bravo and how things work on it, its usps etc etc and to top it up, the dealership was shabby considering the fact that 500 was yet to be launched in the Uk and was standing there wrapped in covers....That was shocking to me as we are hearing so much about fiat overhauling fiat alfa dealerships.. I was shocked to see that they didnt even have a demo car... I agree with the woefully managed dealerships but i do not agree with the fiat cars being bad than the others.... Being the most reliable, read and oldest, autocar's roadtest should rather reflect fiat's dealerships rather than reflecting something like "GP has started to show its age" as even a layman can see that GP is still the prettiest among all of the current hatch-crop and if you include the new fiesta, G punto is equally good looking if not better.. The new Fiesta's Rear quarter looks stubby and cluttery while GP's rear/front and all the angles looks proportionate to rest of the vehicle.....

glorfindel 5 November 2008

Re: Fiat Grande Punto 1.9 Multijet

although some contenders are newest, the Punto is still looking very good. I'm just asking why Autocar tested the 1.9 multijet instead of the 1.3 or the good 1.4 turbo gasoline... With these engines and with this warranty the Punto really is a good choise.

kerrecoe 5 November 2008

Re: Fiat Grande Punto 1.9 Multijet

I'm with you Simon- they're making out like this car has been around for 15 years or something. Weird. The fact that it was released about 9 months before the Corsa (which is based on the Punto after all) doesn't make the Corsa sprightly and the Punto an OAP.

I've had one for two years and the plastics aren't great quality but do we have to be so utterly obsessed with dashboard plastics being soft-touch? Does it really enhance your life that much? I don't think so somehow but so many of you believe it does.

The warranty is amazing- it's about time other manufacturers followed the Koreans lead.

The Ka Mk 1, now that's a car that warrants the title 'old-stager'...