Fiat Grande Punto

Fiat rediscovers its sporting heritage with new Grande Punto 1.4 T-Jet

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

There is no question that Fiat has rediscovered its sporty spirit. In T-Jet Sporting form, the Grande Punto is a great junior hot hatch with a storming engine and capable chassis. It can’t match others in the class for build or refinement but, when it comes to brio, it’s right there at the top.

Alfa Romeo isn’t the only Italian car maker rediscovering its sporting heritage. With the rebirth of the Abarth brand and the debut of the race-tuned Ferrari F430 Scuderia, the country has been responsible for turning out some of this year’s most memorable sporting machines.

Not to be left out, Fiat is also building cars that are fun to drive. And to prove it can do so as well as anyone else, it has announced a hot version of the Grande Punto.

The T-Jet Sporting slots in below the new Abarth Grande Punto and aims to offer similar thrills with smaller bills. The £11,995 car has a 120bhp 1.4-litre turbo engine, plus sports suspension and lots of standard kit.

It also has style. Even in the orange of our test car, the Grand Punto looks good. Add the subtle bodykit and multi-spoke alloys, and it’s every inch the aggressive hot hatch. Details such as the oval exhaust add more appeal.

Inside, heavily bolstered sports seats provide plenty of support during cornering, and are comfortable on long journeys. The chunky leather steering wheel is a joy to hold, while the dashboard design is simple and well laid out. Fire up the engine, and your ears are filled with the fruity burble of the exhaust. On the move, the 1.4 unit proves a versatile, capable performer. Despite its small size, it pulls strongly in every gear, with virtually no turbo lag. It’s only at  very high revs that it starts to feel a little short on power.

The chassis shares this enthusiastic nature, making any back-road blast an event to relish. Turn into a corner, and the Sporting grips hard, demonstrating great composure, which is helped by precise, if slightly over-light steering. Unfortunately, the shift quality of the standard five-speed box can be patchy, and too much road noise gets into the cabin.

Otherwise, the driving experience is a delight, easily matching that of the T-Jet’s warm hatch rivals.

As with other Grande Punto models, there is also a practical five-door., while buyers looking for even lower running costs can choose the frugal 130bhp 1.9-litre JTD diesel motor.

Rival: Ford Fiesta Zetec-S Due for replacement next year, the Fiesta still has excellent driving dynamics. It’s cramped inside, though, and can match neither the power nor the pace of the new Fiat.

Most Popular

Exclusive: banned 71-reg number plates released
Number plates
News

Exclusive: banned 71-reg number plates released

Latest DVLA list of banned UK registrations reveals which 71-plates are too rude for the road
20 Sep 2021
'The death of cheap cars will be a travesty for personal mobility'
Opinion cheap cars
Opinion

'The death of cheap cars will be a travesty for personal mobility'

Our appetite for small, cheap cars is as strong as ever - although Mike Rutherford warns they may no longer be profitable
12 Sep 2021
E10 petrol explained: UK prices, checker tool and is it OK for your car?
Petrol pump
News

E10 petrol explained: UK prices, checker tool and is it OK for your car?

E10 petrol is up to 10 per cent ethanol and is available at UK fuel stations now as part of the bid to cut CO2 emissions
1 Sep 2021