Fiat Punto review
Despite recent revisions, the Fiat Punto is showing its age, and it falls down in most areas compared to newer rivals
The supermini class is a hotly contested one, and the Fiat Punto faces a slew of talented rivals. The latest Punto is the second facelift for Fiat's supermini and sees a number of mechanical and cosmetic changes – including the addition of Fiat's excellent TwinAir two-cylinder petrol engine – but it still falls short of its rivals. The Fiat is unexciting to drive and the styling feels tired. Decent safety credentials and a smooth ride go some way to redeeming it, but as a package, the Punto is largely underwhelming.
Our choice: Fiat Punto TwinAir
The Fiat Punto is now in its third styling iteration, and remains largely unchanged since the Grand Punto first arrived in 2006. It's a design that is showing its age, and aside from simple revisions like new headlights and optional paint colours, the Punto falls well behind newer rivals such as the Ford Fiesta and Kia Rio. Inside is a similar story, where the Fiat feels remarkably low rent, with swathes of cheap plastics and a tiny gearlever. The revised Punto has a decidedly budget feel compared to rivals, and cabin quality disappoints even next to the cheaper and newer Fiat Panda.
It comes as no surprise that the Fiat Punto is best suited to a life in the city. The five-speed manual works well and the steering is light – making parking a doddle. The brakes are sharp and the ride is excellent, soaking up bumps and ridges with ease. However, the light steering, which is ideal in town, lacks feedback and feels quite vague on the open road. Add this to sloppy body control, and it is feels worlds apart from the sharp Ford Fiesta and dynamic Mazda 2.
Fiat came a disappointing last place in our Driver Power survey, which doesn’t bode well for the reliability and consumer satisfaction of new Punto owners. Owners told us that Fiat dealers are poor and that build quality was questionable. However, the Punto does come with driver, passenger and knee airbags and managed a full five-stars in the Euro NCAP crash tests – making it one of the safest superminis on the market.
In terms of outright boot space, the ageing Punto loses out to some of its more contemporary rivals. With 275 litres, it's 10-litres down on the Vauxhall Corsa and 20 litres down on the Ford Fiesta. However, with the rear seats folded, the load space opens up to an impressive 1,030-litres, which transforms the hatchback’s carrying ability. Space in the rear seats is acceptable, too, with decent head and legroom for full-sized adults. Up front, the driving position feels a bit high, and the light steering that makes the Punto a doddle to park is compromised by a poor turning circle.
The Fiat Punto performs well in terms of economy. The TwinAir, two-cylinder turbocharged petrol manages an impressive 67.3mpg. The Punto is cheaper than most of its main rivals to buy, too – undercutting the Vauxhall Corsa, Ford Fiesta and Mazda 2 when compared like-for-like. Standard kit is decent, with electric windows, remote locking and a whole host of airbags included as standard.