Fiat Punto Review

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

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3
Out of 5

Pros

  • Good value for money
  • Nippy handling
  • Decent practicality

Cons

  • Build quality isn’t the best
  • Poor residuals
  • Low-cost interior materials
  • MPG

    0 - 0

  • CO2

    0 - 0 g/km

Model review

The Fiat Punto was first introduced in 1993, and is now in its third generation. Offering a low-cost mode of transport, it’s been an immensely popular car for the Italian manufacturer, with each incarnation bringing with it better levels of practicality and standard equipment.

The original car broke the mould by using all-independent suspension which gave it better on-road handling characteristics. There was even a sporting model, giving potential buyers a more ‘dynamic’ choice of Punto.

The second-generation car maintained the original’s quirky looks, but the rest of the car was extensively re-worked. There was just one engine to choose from too – a 1.2-litre unit with either eight or 16 valves. This model was facelifted in 2003, bringing with it updated looks and a revised engine line-up.

Latest model

The latest Fiat Punto was revealed in 2005, offering better levels of space and practicality than the car it replaced. Called the Grande Punto, it was available with a range of efficient engines and could offer an impressive five-star Euro NCAP safety rating, making it one of the safest cars on the market at the time.

This car was given a facelift in 2009, bringing with it a new series of engines. A sporting model – the Abarth Punto – was also spawned from this model, which gave drivers a truly sporting alternative to the standard car.

The latest car has just two engines to choose from -  a 1.2-litre and a 1.4-litre – while the popular diesel engine has been ditched entirely. There are also just two trim levels on offer, meaning that there’s not much to choose from in terms of personalisation. That said, interior plastics have been upgraded, and the inside of the Punto is now more polished and solid than ever before. Prices start at just £11,635, giving drivers a truly low-cost mode of transport.

Value for money

Early cars were basic to say the least. Available as a three-door or five-door hatchback, as well as a two-door convertible, the first-generation Punto had a single piece plastic dashboard with a few ventilation controls mounted within it – and that was about it. Offered as a simplistic city car, the original Punto certainly gave drivers a no-frills experience. Good examples of these cars can be purchased for as little as £500.

The second-generation cars offered better levels of standard equipment. Even cheaper models get electric windows and central locking, as well as split-folding rear seats designed to extend the Punto’s boot capacity. Plenty of storage areas were also included, giving a variety of places to put the little items that accumulate inside a car. Low-mileage examples of these Puntos can range from £500 up to over £1,200.

The third generation Punto – the Punto Grande – had a large number of new parts over the older model. Entry level cars get electric windows – and not much else. Higher-spec trims get air conditioning and alloy wheels, with these models commanding a higher price on the used market. From new, the Punto currently costs from £11,635 – though you could easily find a higher-spec model of the current design age for around half that.

Looks and image

The last redesign of the Punto took place in 2012 – with this model ditching the ‘Grande’ moniker and reverting to its original singular name. Though not as involving to drive as rivals such as the Ford Fiesta, this age of Punto is still capable, especially around town. There are just two engines available, a 1.2-litre petrol and a 1.4-litre petrol. Both return good economy figures, though CO2 emissions are relatively high for this class, with even the smaller unit emitting 124g/km CO2.

However, thanks to well-sorted suspension, the Punto rides well around town and deals with potholes and larger bumps in the tarmac. It remains a good car if you’re looking for a simple method of getting around – though in truth rivals do achieve this better, and the Punto is starting to show its age.

Inside, Fiat has tried to lift the Punto with better quality plastics, though there’s still all manner of harder materials used throughout the cabin. The overall feel of the car is good, though it struggles to match the same quality air given off by the Volkswagen Polo, for instance.

Though more reliable than past Fiat cars, even the updated Punto still struggled to maintain an issue clean-sheet. Fire risks were some of the largest problems to plague the Punto name.

Space and practicality

In terms of overall boot space, the Punto lags behind rivals somewhat. It offers 275 litres of seats-up load area, compared to 280 litres in the Volkswagen Polo and 330 litres in the Skoda Fabia. You can of course fold the rear seats down, and doing so will increase boot space to 1,030 – bettering the Polo’s 952 litres.

Up front there’s plenty of headroom, and this is mirrored in the rear of the car too, with back seat passengers given a decent amount of space.  Due to the car’s large side windows and windscreen, the Punto has an airy feel to it which helps give it a greater feeling of space than you’d expect.

Thanks to light steering and its small overall size, the Punto is a very easy car to park – though parking sensors are an optional extra should you want them.

As mentioned, the Grande Punto was awarded five stars in the Euro NCAP safety tests – though this was back in 2005. However, because these tests have become stricter since then, the Punto isn’t as safe as it may appear to be on the face of it.

Engines

As previously mentioned, there are just two engine options for the current-generation Punto. There’s a 1.4-litre petrol and a 1.2-litre, with the former reaching 60mph in 13 seconds – a second quicker than the smaller unit. While Fiat used to offer a diesel option, this has now been removed meaning that drivers have only petrol engines to choose between.

Both engines are only available with a five-speed manual gearbox, meaning that those who are looking for an automatic may have to go elsewhere.

Running costs

As the two petrol engines in the Punto aren’t that up-to-date, they simply can’t offer the same levels of economy as those found in cutting-edge powertrains. As such, the entry-level 1.2-litre will return 53.3mpg and emit 124g/km CO2. The 1.4-litre, meanwhile, delivers just 49.6mpg and 132g/km CO2. In this segment, most rivals have already made the switch to turbocharging or downsized to three cylinder units returning well over 60mpg as a result of these changes. Put simply, the Punto lags behind. Insurance groups are relatively low, which means that premiums shouldn’t be too scary.

Things to look out for

Though Fiat does have a reputation for producing cars that don’t offer the best reliability, the Punto did relatively well to address this. The Grande Punto was certainly one of the first cars to offer competitive levels of reliability, with many drivers reporting standard fixes throughout ownership. Electricals remain a troublesome topic, however, with many cars still struggling with wiring gremlins.

Rivals

The Fiat Punto sits within the fiercely competitive city car segment, going up against rivals like the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo. The Fiat should appeal to those who are looking for a low-cost way mode of transport, though in truth low-spec cars get very little standard equipment, so these cars don’t represent the best value-for-money.

In addition, rivals will hold on to the value more keenly, with the Volkswagen in particular doing well in terms of residuals.

Depreciation warning

Here’s where the Punto really falters. Unfortunately, due to high production numbers and low levels of standard equipment, the vast majority of Puntos struggle to maintain their value. It’s been a popular car throughout its many incarnations, but because of this thousands of examples have rolled off the production line, lowering the residuals.

Add into this a poor reputation for reliability in earlier models, and you have a car which simply won’t hold on to its value. It’s why you can pick up older examples on the used market for as little as £500.

Trims Explained

Keeping things simple, there are just two trim levels available with the Punto. Let’s take a look at what separates, and how much they cost.

Punto Pop+

Punto Pop+ is the base trim level, but this doesn’t mean that the car is bare of any equipment. You still get 15-inch alloy wheels and body coloured door mirrors to liven up the exterior, while inside air conditioning, a CD player and remote central locking are all fitted as standard. In terms of safety, the Punto comes with a host of airbags, as well as electronic stability control and a tyre pressure monitoring system.

Pop+ cars cost from £11,635.

Punto Easy+

The Punto Easy+ is the top trim level, bringing with it a higher amount of standard equipment as well as a larger price tag, with these spec cars starting at £13,000. In this grade, you get 16-inch alloy wheels and darkened headlamps while the interior of the car is treated to automatic climate control and rear seats that split 40/60. Technology levels are higher too, with Bluetooth connectivity now fitted as standard and a TomTom sat nav included. Side airbags are also added to the Punto’s already impressive suite.

This grade of Punto offers excellent value for money, given its high level of standard equipment for a relatively low price.

Summary

  1. Only two engines currently on offer
  2. Poor residuals
  3. Interior plastics better on newer models
  4. Easy to park
  5. Ride is good for urban drivers
  6. Folding rear seats flat gives decent amount of load space
  7. Just a five-speed manual gearbox available on current cars
  8. Older models are cheap to buy and run
  9. Reliability has improved with each new model
  10. Top trim level is best in terms of value for money

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