Fiat Punto review

Our Rating: 
2
2.0/5.0
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

Dated design and poor driving experience leave the Fiat Punto trailing behind its supermini rivals.

For: 
Cabin refinement, decent safety, low running costs
Against: 
Tired design, cabin build quality, sloppy handling

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The Fiat Punto is up against some hot competition in the supermini class. The likes of Ford’s Fiesta, Peugeot’s 208 and Vauxhall’s Corsa set the pace and Fiat’s offering has the unenviable task of trying to keep up on underpinnings that date back to 2005. 

Performance and cosmetic tweaks are the main routes by which the Fiat Punto is aiming to keep pace with its rivals. The classy styling has undergone a series of overhauls, some more effective than others, but the additions to the engine bay have been more consistently successful.

Fiat’s even tried changing the name from Grande Punto to Punto Evo but now we’re back to plain-old Punto. The current range runs from entry-level Pop, through Easy to the top spec Sporting model.

Engine-wise, there are unremarkable 1.2 and 1.4-litre 8-valve units but it’s really worthwhile stretching the budget for the impressive 900cc TwinAir 2-cylinder or the 1.4-litre MultiAir.    

In general, decent safety credentials, some strong engines and a smooth ride fail to compensate for the Punto’s lackluster handling and dated underpinnings.  

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Our choice: Fiat Punto TwinAir

Styling

2

This is the third generation of the Fiat Punto and despite a series of facelifts things remain largely unchanged since it first emerged as the Grande Punto in 2006.

New headlights or a few extra paint choices can’t disguise its dated design and the Punto looks bland next to more head-turning rivals like the Ford Fiesta and Kia Rio.

The Punto’s drab personality continues inside. Cheap plastics, a tiny gearlever and the cabin’s overall flimsiness make the cheaper Fiat Panda look like a luxury car. 

Driving

3

The city is clearly the Fiat Punto’s preferred habitat. Parking is stress free thanks to the light steering but the turning circle could be tighter. On the open road, the lack of feedback from the feather-light wheel can be disconcerting.

 The Punto displays shoddy body control when cornered hard and that means more dynamic rivals like the Ford Fiesta feel a class above. The brakes are over-sharp but at least the suspension soaks up bumps and ridges comfortably enough. 

Reliability

2.5

Fiat came last in our Driver Power survey for reliability and consumer satisfaction. Comments marked both Fiat dealers and the car’s build quality as poor.

At least it’s safe though, as driver, passenger and knee airbags are standard. The Punto also managed to get four-stars in the Euro NCAP crash tests. 

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Practicality

3.8

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 but visibility is good as a result.

Running Costs

3.7

One selling point the Fiat Punto has over its rivals is its price, undercutting the Vauxhall Corsa, Ford Fiesta and Renault Clio when compared like-for-like.

It’s also fairly economical. The TwinAir two-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine does an impressive 67.3mpg. Standard kit is also decent, with electric windows, remote locking and a whole host of airbags included as standard.

Disqus - noscript

The inside is beautiful, with the beautiful radio in the middle and very beautiful classic/modern instrument panel that is also easy to read/
not the crazy instrument panel from ford fiesta wich I so much hate.
let alone the Up and the dacia who are way behind...
The Sharp ford fiesta and mazda 2...
They use the same SCCS platform and so does opel
so fiat isn't that far a way..
Only the drum brakes in the rear are a bit too sharp in braking power and are not very dosable.
altrough braking power is excellent
by the way ford fiesta also still uses drum brakes.
The seats of the punto could be better since they don't give much support to my back for the long runs. What a pity on that part fwiat.. or else I bought you "big bummer are the seats" the rest is ok, at least with the 1.3 Mjet engine diesel
Driving is exellent, good feedback in all speeds also the 100 miles an hour speed ( I drove it)
The reviewers must forgotten to switch off "city mode" HAHA, just kidding it switched off by itself on higher velocities for safety reasons....
This revieuw is very biassed
I am going to unsubscrive, sorry

I know someone whos just bought one and loves it too bits, with its quick tight handling and would give it 5*

What Fiat forgot to send you the money to give a good review for all their cars like ford do. For the price what you really would pay name a car better then a multiair turbo managed to get one with delivery miles for 9k that would get you a 1.2 fiesta no thanks.

The only problem with the handling on these cars is the slightly vague steering, which is otherwise quick and accurate. The ride/handling balance is very good for a car of this size - usually they're either completely soft and wallowy when set up for comfort, or painfully uncomfortable when set up for a sportier ride.

There's also nothing wrong with the build quality of the interior. Yes, a VW Polo might use more upmarket materials, but it also costs a lot more than the Fiat and isn't so nicely designed.

No, the looks on the newer cars might not be as pretty as on the original Grande, but this is a car that's 8 years old and as such, it's not ageing too badly.

Last updated: 19 Jun, 2012
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