Fiat Grande Punto 1.9 MultiJet 130 Sporting - FIAT PUNTO Car Review
Added: 22 Nov 2006
FIAT took no chances when preparing to launch the Grande Punto, described by the Italian company as one of the most important vehicles in its 107-year history.
Testing saw the little cars clock up more than three million miles - the equivalent of 125 trips round the world - in temperatures from minus 25 to plus 45 degrees C.
There were 60 actual crash tests to go with 100 simulated ones and no less than 15,000 hours of technical calculations.
It's an attention to detail that has reaped substantial rewards in the ten months since the Punto hit showrooms, achieving a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating and recording 29,000 UK sales to the end of October.
Some 21 models in five trim levels and with a healthy spread of petrol and diesel engines make up the range, which starts at £7,489 for the 1.2 Active White three-door - cheaper than the starting point for the previous generation line-up.
The 1.9 Sporting occupies the opposite end of the price scale and while the majority of buyers will probably favour the less powerful, cheaper diesels this 1.9-litre MultiJet oil-burner is a cracking unit.
Key to the new Punto is the word Grande, because its size makes it the biggest medium-sized hatchback on the road.
Not only is there adequate space for four six-footers but access to the rear of the more racy-looking three-door versions is easy too.
If there's a criticism to be made it's a common one - a tight perch for the centre rear passenger. Nor is there much room in the deep but narrow boot.
That said there's a real freshness about the interior with its accessible switches, adjustable driver's seat, steering wheel-mounted sound system controls and funky backlit graphics.
The Sporting model's seats - the front ones in bucket style with side bolsters - are among the funkiest in any small car with their speckled silver finish and nine soft silver buttons rising out of the fabric.
On the road this is a lively performer. A hint of rattle from start-up reminds the driver they are in a diesel car, but once up to speed the noise fades and the Punto rides and handles beautifully.
And Fiat's dualdrive electric power steering offers a choice of two settings, one ensuring maximum feedback and driver involvement, the other lightening the steering to minimise effort for urban conditions.
Even the most basic Grande Puntos includes anti-lock brakes, remote central locking, driver and passenger front airbags, electric front windows, CD player, trip computer and Follow Me Home headlamps, so spec levels are extensive.
Sporting models, with their roof-mounted rear spoiler and side skirts, come with a choice of six colours - Caribbean Orange, similar to the hue used by Ford for its Focus ST, is the one to go for.
Fiat Grande Punto 1.9 MultiJet 130 Sporting 3dr
Mechanical: 130bhp, 1,910cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6spd manual gearbox
Max speed: 124mph
0-62mph: 9.5 secs
Combined mpg: 48.7
Insurance group: 6
CO2 emissions: 154g/km
BiK rating: 20%
Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles, 3yrs paint, 8yrs anti-rust
Keywords: FIAT, PUNTO