Fiat Grande Punto Review

Find out more about the Fiat Grande Punto in the latest Motors.co.uk Review

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3
Out of 5

Pros

  • Has plenty of space
  • Performs well in the city
  • Good level of safety

Cons

  • Gearboxes are poor
  • Newer hatchbacks doing a better job
  • Petrol engines lack grunt
  • MPG

    0 - 0

  • CO2

    0 - 0 g/km

Model Review

The Grande Punto was introduced in 2006 as the third generation with the ‘Punto’ moniker and following two facelifts, it is the base car for the current Punto model.

With the new version came a completely revamped body that was much more stylish, modern and definitely more suited to its target market – younger drivers. It was the first model to use Fiat’s ‘Small Platform’, which is still in use today on the current Punto and laid the groundwork for the brand’s modern design ethos.

Coming in three and five-door guises, the Grande Punto was also made into an Abarth special edition, which had more power, improved performance and sportier styling.

The model was replaced by the Punto Evo in 2010 – which was effectively a facelifted Grande Punto – but the Grande did wonders to improve Fiat’s image as it had much improved reliability and a more refined finish.

Value for money

As the Grande Punto is now exclusively on the used market, you will be able to find high spec versions for prices well below the original starting price of the base trim editions, such as the top spec Sporting and even the Abarth model.

One thing that is a big mark down for the Grande Punto is how much the technology has aged inside and compared to modern hatchbacks it has really fallen behind. But if that isn’t as much of an issue for you, it can be a good used option with decent prices awaiting you.

A ’59 plate model of the Grande Punto in Sporting trim is available for £3,450 - £12,245 cheaper than the original sale price – and it includes a full leather interior, sports seats, alloy wheels, traction control, Bluetooth, CD player and cruise control, which for a cheap run-around is good value. It comes with over 56,500 miles on the clock, a 1.6-litre 120bhp Multijet diesel – which was the pick of the diesel range – and a manual gearbox.

If you’re after the performance Abarth version, used models in good condition are available as well. One of which is on the market for £6,495 and the three-door model has features that will likely please the majority of customers. With in-car entertainment, Bluetooth, front electric windows, privacy glass, sports seats, traction control and 17-inch alloy wheels, the Abarth Grande Punto has plenty of good things going for it.

But like its less powerful sibling, the interior is dated and the speed statistics are no longer that impressive for a hot hatch. However, with a 1.4-litre petrol engine producing 153bhp that takes the model up to 60mph in 8.2 seconds and onto a top speed of 129mph, it still has plenty of poke.

 

Looks and image

When compared to the second generation Punto this model was a significant step change and was an awful lot more modern looking than its predecessor, which looked dated even in 2005. However, after ten years on the road it is starting to look a bit old and has been left behind by models such as the Mazda 2 and the Ford Fiesta.

On higher spec models designer alloys and metallic paints were available to add some extra appeal to the car and for many the car will still look modern and up to a good standard. However, by 2017 standards you can find a much better looking model from elsewhere.

For its natural habitat Fiat fitted City mode, which gave the steering a lighter feel and that made it much more easy to drive in urban environments. On the open road, however, feedback is lacking and despite a well-balanced chassis and lots of grip, there were better handling hatchbacks available at time of release.

Higher spec models fitted with larger alloys give a much firmer ride, but most of the range offers a solid drive that soaks up the bumps. Slower driving will affect this, however. When paired with the more powerful engines in the range, such as the 1.9-litre 120bhp Multijet and the 1.6-litre 120bhp Multijet units, it performs rather well, but thanks to its range of characterful engines the exhaust always sounds great, even if the unit is working harder than it should.

As the hatchback has progressively got larger, the Punto brand managed to stay ahead of the curve and the Grande Punto was no exception. That meant seating space continued to improve and when 2006 came around, the Grande Punto did rather well.

However, for taller occupants in the rear seats it may not be the most comfortable experience, with people over six-foot struggling for legroom due to the interior space being encroached by a longer bonnet to improve safety.

Overall though the Grande Punto keeps most in good comfort and thanks to good refinement exterior noise is kept to a minimum, with engine noises also reasonably muted throughout journeys.

 

Space and practicality

Due to the extended dimensions of the model, the 275-litre boot was rather well sized at time of release and even by today’s standard it isn’t too bad. Although the rear seats fold down on all models, cheaper trim levels didn’t have a 60/40 split format and both seats were joined. However, when the rear seats were folded down it gave 1000 litres and that is impressive for a hatchback of any age. There are also plenty of storage bins and places throughout the cabin, making it practical in most situations.

With the update of the Punto model came a much safer body and by 2005 standards, Euro NCAP gave it a five-star rating thanks to a five-star adult rating and decent protection for the occupants. However, due to the model’s age, safety systems have since been introduced to a wider range of vehicles in the market and the Grande Punto has since fallen behind. Pedestrian safety also wasn’t particularly great. More powerful models were given ESP as standard.

Thanks to a decent level of safety and good space in the back, smaller families might appreciate the Grande Punto on the used market. Fitted with Isofix points for child seats and plenty of space in the back for family accessories, comfort levels are also very good and that could be very good for families looking for a cheap used option.

 

Engines

Throughout the model’s lifespan, the engines available could all return figures above 45mpg and some of the diesel options could do return in excess of 60mpg. Earlier top spec models came with 1.9-litre Multijet diesel engines that returned good statistics but with Euro4 specification, release too many particulates per kilometre meaning much higher road tax costs. Newer models came with engines that complied with Euro5 guidelines and they produced less CO2 per kilometre – although by today’s standards the statistics are very ordinary.

Performance levels on all, however, aren’t too bad for a city car. Smaller engines will struggle to get up to speed and will run out of puff the further round the rev counter you go, but they can do a decent job otherwise. It’s best to go for the more powerful diesel options if you have the choice, especially from the later models.

 

Running costs

Thanks to decent fuel economies for the whole range from new, you should expect running costs to remain rather reasonable as miles per gallon statistics were all pitched above 45mpg when the models were introduced. However – as is the problem with the Grande Punto in general – it has clearly aged compared to the current market as many hatchbacks can now achieve well over 60mpg from base spec.

With the road tax of higher emitting models going up at the start of April 2017, older vehicles are guaranteed to suffer and the Grande Punto is no exception. Costs will be in excess of £140 per year, as all models produced 100g/km CO2 when new.

Thankfully though, insurance costs should remain quite low as the model isn’t particularly extravagant on specification choices and it is still reasonably safe, even by today’s high standards.

Things to look out for

The Grande Punto received two major recalls during its time on sale and both were related to the model’s steering setup. Either the steering failed completely or the steering column detached from the universal joint, with both ending in a likely loss of control of the vehicle. Other issues included brake failures, engines losing power and wiring for the climate control short circuiting. Although this model introduced much improved reliability from Fiat, by market standards the Grande Punto didn’t perform superbly well.

 

Rivals

With modern hatchbacks well ahead in quality and performance, the Grande Punto only has used models, such as the Vauxhall Astra, Skoda’s now defunct Fabia and the Mazda 2 – all of which are similar in size and performance. Other used hatchbacks like the Kia Rio, the ever-present and reliable Ford Fiesta and Hyundai i20 are also good options on the pre-owned market.

Trims Explained

Throughout the model’s lifespan, Fiat released nine trims that offered different accessories and levels of comfort. There are three main specifications to look out for on the used market – Dynamic Sport, Sporting and Eleganza – which were the most valuable models when they were released.

Dynamic Sport

Dynamic Sport came with extras such as air conditioning, alloy wheels, electric-folding heated mirrors, front fog lights and folding rear seats. Admittedly this isn’t a large amount of options by today’s standard, but due to the low used prices, this model could be a good option as it has everything you need.

An electric sunroof was also available as an optional extra.

Sporting

In the Sporting guise, the Grande Punto came with more accessories like sports seats, traction control and the optional cruise control, which customers could certainly find a great add-on. Optional extras such as climate control, electric sunroof, rear parking sensors and leather seats were also available.

These can be found on used models throughout the market as they were desirable at the time.

Eleganza

Eleganza added climate control and parking sensors as standard features, but took away the sports seats for a more comfort-orientated feel. Again cruise control came as an optional extra.

Leather seats, electric sunroof and metallic paint were options also and this spec was the most desirable of the bunch.

Summary

  1. Good hatchback option on used market
  2. Looks have aged
  3. Diesel engines can return decent economy and performance
  4. Hot hatch options are available cheaply
  5. Reliability issues were common
  6. Safety is good, but well behind modern standards
  7. Running costs can be quite high
  8. Practical and quite spacious
  9. Works well in urban environments
  10. Modern hatchbacks do a better job

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