Fiat Punto review
Dated design and poor driving experience leave the Fiat Punto trailing behind its supermini rivals.
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.
Our choice: Fiat Punto TwinAir
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.