Fiat Grande Punto 1.4 Eleganza - FIAT PUNTO Car Review

Review

Added: 02 Sep 2007
Last update:

THERE is little wonder Fiat entered 2007 enjoying applause as the fastest growing automotive brand in Britain.

Its sales performance throughout 2006 had been consistently strong, resulting in an increase in the Turin car giant's share of the UK motor market to 2.51 per cent compared with 1.47 per cent the previous year.

This upsurge was led by the ongoing success of the Italian car maker's stylish new Grande Punto which bowed into the UK market at the beginning of 2006.

Some 58,000 have been sold in Britain so far maintaining Fiat's successful sales performance which was first established in the hatchback market some 12 years ago with the arrival of the first generation Punto.

The Grande Punto has received widespread acclaim for its hugely accommodating interior as it continues to take on quality opposition such as the Renault Clio, Suzuki Swift, Toyota Yaris and Ford Fiesta.

It is a supremely spacious supermini offered in three or five-door mode with distinctive stand-out-from-the-crowd styling developed by the Fiat Styling Centre. In fact it comes with more than a hint of Maserati in its lines courtesy of input from Giorgetto Giugiaro's Italdesign Studio.

There is a choice of six engines - 1.2-litre 65bhp and 1.4-litre 77bhp versions of Fiat's renowned eight-valve FIRE petrol engine, plus the 16-valve 95bhp 1.4-litre and the latest 120bhp StarJet 16-valver plus examples of Fiat's MultiJet common rail direct injection turbo diesel technology with a 75bhp version of the award-winning 1.3-litre 16-valve unit plus a 130bhp 1.9-litre eight-valve MultiJet.

There are seven specification levels. For comfort there is the Grande Punto Active, Active Aircon, Dynamic or Eleganza while, for the more serious driver, Fiat has provided the Active Sport, Dynamic Sport and Sporting set-ups.

I have just tried the Grande Punto powered by the 1.4-litre 77bhp eight-valve petrol engine in five-door form boasting Eleganza trim which includes dual-zone automatic climate control, rear parking sensor, a goodly complement of air bags.

There's also electric front windows, remote central 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 while driver safety aids include ABS braking which includes Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) plus an Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) to help keep you on the right track in critical conditions.

Following in the tyre tracks of a predecessor with a well deserved reputation as one of the biggest superminis around, the Grande Punto takes the space race to even greater lengths with further increased overall exterior dimensions.

This translates into a five seat interior with a family-friendly boot of 264 litres with all seats occupied.

Perhaps the electric power steering could have been a little more generous in terms of feedback but on the road this hatchback handles pretty sharply and is easy to drive.

Paired with a five-speed manual gear change, the spritely 1.4-litre eight-valve petrol engine is surprisingly refined, performing in generally smooth, well mannered fashion through the range, contributing to a firmish but not unforgiving ride.

The well put together and generously kitted out Grande Punto is another fine effort from Fiat which boasts competitive pricing, a five-star Euro NCAP Crash Test rating, low insurance grouping and low exhaust emission levels.

FAST FACTS

Fiat Grande Punto 1.4 Eleganza 5dr

Price: £10,730

Mechanical: 77bhp, 1,368cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 5spd manual gearbox

Max speed: 103mph

0-62mph: 13.2 secs

Combined mpg: 47.9

Insurance group: 4

CO2 emissions: 139g/km

BiK rating: 15%

Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles, 3yrs paint, 8yrs anti-rust

Words: Malcolm Robertshaw

Keywords: FIAT, PUNTO