Fiat Grande Punto Abarth 1.4 T-Jet - FIAT PUNTO Car Review
Added: 23 Jun 2010
I always vowed, as I imagine most of you did, that I would never turn into my Dad.
But increasingly I find myself looking at youngsters today, shaking my head and tut-tutting at their hair, clothes, taste in music, etc in exactly the same way my old man did at me.
And it’s a two-way street, obviously.
The youth of today ridicule our dress sense, prefer music largely bereft of any real guitars, drums or any other instrument and heaven forbid they should ever see us try to dance!
No matter how much we fight it we cannot bridge the generation gap, it seems. We are just not ‘cool’ to the kids of today.
However, I did manage for a brief week recently to gain huge kudos with my 17-year-old nephew and 16-year-old niece. For a few days, at least, I was Mr Popular.
To what did I owe this new-found and fleeting credibility you may ask?
The answer came in the form of the shiny red Fiat Grande Punto Abarth which I just happened to have on test for the seven days in question.
Unashamedly aimed at drivers us oldies somewhat sneeringly dismiss as ‘boy racers’ this souped-up mini Italian stallion ticks all the right boxes for it’s target market.
It is small but perfectly formed, affordable, comes with eye-catching go faster stripes and shiny badges and, above all, it’s fast and it’s fun.
The Grande Punto Abarth will take you from 0-62mph in a little over eight seconds and hit a top speed of 129mph – which is plenty good enough for anyone who has not long since thrown away their ‘L’ plates.
But it will still give you 40.9 miles per gallon on average – provided you can somehow resist the temptation to press the sport boost button – with respectable emissions levels of 162g/km.
And there is no denying it looks the part.
Compared with the standard Grande Punto, the Abarth’s track has been widened slightly, it is equipped with 17-inch alloy wheels.
The front bumper has been specially redesigned and the headlights set in a dark surround, while the larger air intakes, adapted to cater for the turbocharged engine’s cooling requirements, lend the car an extra aggressive feel.
Comprehensive safety features include window and side airbags, ABS and ESP as standard and the latter cannot be deactivated – perhaps a nod to the fact that this beast is primarily aimed at drivers who are likely to be a little inexperienced.
High spec luxury kit includes Fiat’s Blue&Me hands-free communications system, radio/MP3 player, air conditioning, tinted windows, electric front windows, power steering and cruise control.
Those optional stripes bearing the Abarth name along the bottom of each side and the famous scorpion badges inside and out are the icing on the cake.
It’s any young driver’s fantasy.
As I drove around in it, I drew plenty of admiring glances from bright young things in their Clios, Fiestas and 207 GTIs who were, no doubt, appalled when they clocked the overweight, balding middle-aged bloke behind the wheel.
I, though, was in my element.
Back in the mists of time, when I was prime boy racer material myself, there was no way that an impoverished trainee reporter’s wage would get me anywhere near this, relatively inexpensive though the Grande Punto Abarth is.
And I wasn’t going to waste the opportunity to make up for lost time and recapture a little of that youthful zest... behind the wheel at least.
This pocket rocket was sharp and responsive to pilot and the solid ride merely enhanced the sporty feel.
Not only is the Grande Punto Abarth quick off the mark but it was still willing at the top end too – effortlessly picking up when I asked for a bit more on the motorway even with the wife, two kids and a boot full of family kit on board!
Admittedly it was a bit of a stretch squeezing my middle-aged spread behind the wheel with my young son in the seat behind as the back seat accommodation is somewhat snug.
With no-one in the back, though, the cabin is remarkably spacious and comfortable for a car in this class.
And given that luggage space is unlikely to be a major consideration with the target market, I reckon six inches more legroom in the rear and a smaller boot would have been the only real improvement.
That way the girls any self-respecting young petrol head is trying to impress can travel comfortably!
Mechanical: 155bhp, 1,368cc petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox
Max Speed: 129mph
0-62mph: 8.2 seconds
Combined mpg: 40.9
Insurance group: 30
CO2 Emissions: 162g/km
BiK rating: 21%
Warranty: 3 years/unlimited mileage
Keywords: Fiat, Grande, Punto, Abarth