Fiat Grande Punto 1.3 MultiJet 75 Active - FIAT PUNTO Car Review
Added: 24 Mar 2006
IT is now some 12 years since Fiat bridged the gap in its small and medium hatchback line-up with the first generation Punto range.
Back in 1994 this stylish and spacious supermini hit the ground running, becoming Car of the Year in 1995 and the Best-Selling Car in Europe two years later and, along with the arrival of Punto Mark II in 1999, more than six million have graced the world's driveways since.
Now at a showroom near you, the Turin car giant has introduced the third generation of a supermini which has a pretty hefty reputation to live up to.
But in fact, Grande Punto has already won widespread acclaim for its hugely accommodating interior as it faces up to B-sector opposition such as the Renault Clio, Suzuki Swift and Ford Fiesta.
Grande Punto is set to be one of the most important vehicles in Fiat's 107-year history, being the latest in a long line-up of stylish small cars that has created and built the Italian carmaker's legendary heritage which began with the Fiat 500 back in 1934.
It is offered in three or five-door mode with distinctive stand-out-from-the-crowd styling developed by the Fiat Styling Centre and comes with more than a hint of Maserati in the finished product courtesy of input from Giorgetto Giugiaro's Italdesign Studio.
The end product is a quite elegant and distinctly Italian creation within which naturally aerodynamic lines merge comfortably with muscular wheel arches at each corner.
Overhead the steeply raked windscreen contributes to a handsome profile and some impressive aerodynamic efficiency and fine stability on the move.
There is a choice of six engines on offer - 1.2-litre 65bhp and 1.4-litre 77bhp versions of Fiat's renowned eight-valve Fire petrol engine and four examples of Fiat's MultiJet commonrail direct injection turbo diesel technology with 75bhp and 90bhp versions of the award-winning 1.3-litre 16-valve unit plus 120bhp and 130bhp examples of the 1.9-litre 8-valve MultiJet.
Both petrol engines and the 75bhp 1.3-litre MultiJet are paired with five-speed manual gearboxes while the remaining engines are mated to six-speed manual transmissions.
There are five specification levels to tempt the discerning buyer kicking off with the generously equipped Active, moving through Active Sport, Dynamic and Eleganza models before topping out with the Sporting version of the Grande Punto.
Driven here is the Grande Punto 1.3-litre 75bhp MultiJet in three-door form boasting Active trim which includes electric front windows, remote centrtal locking, 'follow-me-home' headlights, electric door mirrors, trip computer, ABS braking with Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD), plus four-speaker sound system with CD and steering wheel-mounted controls.
Following in the tyre tracks of a predecessor with a well deserved reputation as one of the biggest superminis around, Grande Punto takes the space race to even greater lengths with further increased overall exterior dimensions.
This has translated into an even more manoeuvrably accommodating interior which houses plenty of space for four adults with enough to squeeze in a fifth occupant in the rear seats, plus a generous boot room with all seats occupied or the rear seats folded flat.
Becoming an easy rider is simple in the Grande Punto with standard seat height adjustment combining very agreeably with the reach and rake adjust tiller to provide the ideal driving position sitting comfortably facing a thoughtfully laid out dash and centre console from where overall vision is fine.
Fiat's Grande Punto positively revels in putting on the style for interested bystanders and provides that decidedly well put together feel to the interior.
Perhaps the electric power steering could have been a little more generous with feedback but on the tarmac, this hatchback handles well and is easy to drive while there is plenty of the fun factor to enjoy when linking together a series of twisty bits.
The diesel engine is nicely refined, performing in smooth, well mannered fashion through the range, contributing to a comforting ride over the long haul with, dependent upon individual driving style, the promise of around 60mpg over the combined driving cycle at journey's end.
Competitively priced, the Grande Punto is a fine effort from Fiat and with a five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating, low insurance grouping and exhaust emission levels it looks well set to provide some very agreeably priced family motoring.
Fiat Grande Punto 1.3 MultiJet 75 Active 3dr
Mechanical: 75bhp, 1,248cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 5spd manual gearbox
Max speed: 103mph
0-62mph: 13.6 secs
Insurance group: 3
Combined mpg: 60.1
CO2 emissions: 123g/km
BiK rating: 18%
Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles; 3yrs paint; 8yrs anti-rust
Keywords: FIAT, PUNTO