- We like...Zippy engine
- We don't...Mad seat trim
Italian supermini looks good. But do its talents spread widely enough to deserve your cash?You gotta love the Grande Punto for the way that it looks. To our eyes, no other small car is this neat ‘n’ sweet, from its mini-Ferrari nose to its plump, pattable rump. Mind you, calling this Fiat ‘small’ is relative. As the ‘Grande’ name suggests, it is actually big for a supermini.
That means it has enough space to sit four grown-ups in reasonable comfort, and five at a squeeze. Even the three-door version we’re sampling here is easy enough for all to enter/exit, thanks to its big, wide-opening doors and easy-slide seats.
This one has a 1.4 turbocharged petrol motor, pumping out 120bhp. A full-on performance Punto, the Abarth, will begin sale within a couple of months. But, for now, this is the quickest and dearest you can buy.
So is it worth its £12,405 asking price? To begin an answer, let's put it in context: the cheapest Grand Punto costs £5000 less. It’s pushed along by a 75bhp 1.2 litre petrol engine that feels weedy in what is a heavy car. That said, it ds offer the same space inside and some of the comforts,too. You even get central door locking and electric windows as part of the deal. So this one's got a lot to do to justify the extra.
In the 1.4 T-jet Sporting, your added cash gets you air conditioning, a trip computer and Fiat’s take on how a sporty car’s cabin should look. This includes a leather-wrapped steering wheel, gear shift and hand brake (good) and sporty-look instruments (so-so). You also get a dash finished in silver-black material that reminded us of a 1970s nightclub (so-so), plus front and rear seats finished in black cloth (so-so). Atop these sit rubber studs, let into the fabric right where you sit (plain weird). They’re not uncomfy, but they are puzzling. Also, there's a set of good alloy wheels and some restrained body add on like a small spoiler and a racy exhaust tail pipe.
On the move it rides smoothly despite its alloy wheels, although urban pot holes send thumps crashing through the cabin. Its steering responds directly but without the feel you’d want from a sporty car – it feels rather lifeless. Like other Puntos, it has a ‘City’ button on the dash which, when pressed, makes the steering very light at town speeds. But for us, it’s not a benefit because the steering feels light enough anyway.
The engine is rorty when pressed and shoots the car forward at a lick, helped by the quick and easy five-gear shifter. It’s also economical, with up to 42mpg overall promised, while insurance rated as just group six helps keep running costs sensible.
Fiat’s long been good at making small-ish cars and this Punto confirms that it’s what the company ds best. If you’ve £12,000 to spend on a quick little car, this’ll do just fine.
But if we were in that place, our cash would go on a Suzuki Swift Sport. It’s £400 cheaper, has a nicer cabin and, while not as quick, has a more strongly sporty flavour. And, finally, the fact that it loses value over time slightly more slowly than the Fiat would for us, clinch the sale.
- Engines1.4 T-jet
- 0-60 mph8.9sec
- Insurance groups6
Motors.co.uk value verdict: