Fiat Grande Punto 1.4 Active - FIAT PUNTO Car Review
Added: 09 Aug 2009
IT may seem paradoxical to call a car in the supermini class the Grande Punto - but Fiat's latest hatch certainly lives up to its name.
The Punto is the largest supermini out there and, as such, offers plenty of cabin space.
In fact, sat up front behind the steering wheel you could be forgiven for thinking you were piloting a more substantial vehicle.
The driving position is comfortable, with plenty of support from the sporty seats, and everything is within easy reach.
Getting the kids and their booster seats in and out of the back of my three door model didn't prove too difficult either and, once strapped in, they had plenty of room.
Admittedly adults, especially the taller ones, would probably find legroom a little tight - although headroom is reasonable.
And the boot is a handy size too. You wouldn't get the tent, sleeping bags and portable stove in if you fancied going back to nature for the weekend, but it should certainly handle the weekly shop.
Being a Fiat, of course, the Grande Punto is all wrapped up in an attractive package.
The Italians always like to look their best and the Punto is certainly one of the best looking cars in its class.
The sharp lines give even this entry level model quite a sporty look and that carries over into the performance as it shows plenty of zip.
Although the 0-62mph time of 13.2 seconds is about average, I found it had plenty of oomph when I needed it.
In its preferred habitat, around the town or city, it can certainly more than handle most situations and the clever city mode switch lightens the steering making it even easier to negotiate those tight spaces.
But I didn't find this game little runner wanting on the motorways either, often gliding past much more powerful motors with such ease that I felt obliged to check the speedo.
Then again a top speed of 103mph is not too shabby for a basic model in a car this size.
Refinement is pretty good, with impressive equipment levels and high quality trim all helping to give this car a more expensive feel than the price you actually have to shell out.
In fact you can currently get one of these for as little as £6,695 under the terms of the government's scrappage scheme and a reduction of a further £1,955 on top of that currently being offered by Fiat.
And the saving doesn't stop there as the Punto certainly shouldn't break the bank to run. Powered by a 77bhp, 1,368cc petrol engine the 1.4 Active three door returns a pretty frugal 47.9mpg on average.
Standard equipment includes electric front windows, remote central locking, driver and passenger air bags, ABS anti-lock braking with EBD - although the ESP (electronic stability programme) for that extra piece of mind will cost you more as an optional add-on.
But I had no qualms about safety in the Punto. Build quality is very good and it has a reassuringly solid and stable feel that you don't always find in small cars.
Fiat's innovative Blue&Me technology is also included as standard on virtually all models in the range which allows the use of most Bluetooth mobile phones and offers full USB and mp3 connectivity. As well as steering-wheel mounted controls this allows the driver to use voice commands to operate many of the mobile phone and audio functions.
It's just one of the nice touches that give this small car a big (well, bigger) car feel.
Fiat Grande Punto 1.4 Active 3dr
Mechanical: 77bhp, 1,368cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox
Max speed: 103mph
0-62mph: 13.2 seconds
Combined mpg: 47.9
Insurance group: 3
CO2 emissions: 139g/km
BiK rating: 15%
Warranty: 5yrs/ unlimited mileage
Keywords: FIAT, PUNTO