In-depth reviews

Fiat Punto (2012-2018) review - Engines, performance and drive

Limited engine choices and lacklustre handling mean the ageing Punto is seriously outclassed

The city is clearly the Fiat Punto’s preferred habitat. Parking is stress free thanks to the light steering and decent visibility. The turning circle could be tighter, but all things considered, it’s fairly easy to manoeuvre. 

On the open road, the lack of feedback from the feather-light wheel can be disconcerting. Neither engine is particularly responsive either, so overtaking requires a degree of preparation. Things are not helped there by an occasionally awkward gearshift mechanism, which makes it too easy to miss a slot unless your gear change movements are quite slow and deliberate.

Disappointingly the Punto also displays shoddy body control when cornered hard and that means more dynamic rivals like the Ford Fiesta feel a class above, too. The brakes are over-sharp but at least the suspension soaks up bumps and ridges comfortably enough. You can also cruise quite comfortably on the motorway, where the Punto’s progress isn’t so often interrupted by the need to steer around corners.

In short, if you drive everywhere slowly and not for fun, the Punto is a passable means of transportation. But the lack of any handling brio is disappointing considering the Punto’s ancestry.

Engines

Fiat used to offer the Punto with turbocharged TwinAir petrol and MultiJet diesel engines, but these are no longer available – probably because the model is getting to the end of its usable life. 

You’re left with a choice of two 8-valve petrol engines, in 1.2-litre and 1.4-litre capacities making 68bhp and 76bhp respectively. The 1.4-litre version isn’t unpleasant, and indeed feels quite refined and smooth.

However a 0-62mph time of 13.2 seconds is hardly thrilling, and the 14.4 seconds recorded by the 1.2-litre is even less so. On the positive side, at least neither engine will encourage you to explore the limitations of the Punto's chassis.

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