The Sunday Times Driving Placeholder
Punto feels past its sell-by date; it’s time for a replacement and fast.
Pros
Spacious cabin
Simple, logical dashboard layout
Sprightly and economical 1.4 MultiAir engine
Cons
Ride comfort and handling
Outclassed in most areas by more modern competition
Poor fit and finish

Fiat Punto Mk 3 review (2010-on)

Despite more facelifts and revamps than it can count, the Punto feels its age in the face of competitors such as the Ford Fiesta, Toyota Yaris and Volkswagen Polo

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What is the Fiat Punto Mk 3?

In the world of superminis, the Fiat Punto is a pensioner that refuses to retire. You can trace its roots back to late 2005, and despite more facelifts and revamps than it can count, it feels its age in the face of competitors such as the Ford Fiesta, Toyota Yaris and Volkswagen Polo. That might be acceptable if the deals on offer from Fiat were too good to be true, but with all car manufacturers having to fight tooth and nail for every new car sale, it’s hard to recommend the Punto. There are three-door and five-door versions of the hatchback available, and a wide range of trims, as well as petrol and diesel engines. Our choice would be the 1.4 MultiAir in Easy trim.

The drive

In this size of car, we’d steer clear of the 875cc TwinAir petrol engine, introduced in the smaller Fiat 500, as its fuel economy will fall far short of the manufacturer’s claims (67.3mpg), because the turbocharger will be boosting hard to propel it along at anything beyond a snail’s pace. As for the diesel, its high price and the added expense of diesel fuel means only the highest mileage driver should opt for it.

The best bet is the 1.4 MultiAir, which offers good performance for its class — 0-60mph in 10.8 seconds — with fuel economy of 49.6mpg. It sounds good and the six-speed gearbox is fairly smooth to use.


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However, the roadholding and ride comfort let the Punto down, and highlight its age. More modern rivals have better steering response, tauter body control, sharper handling and manage to isolate lumps and bumps. A Ford Fiesta would run rings around it, and by January, 2013, the new Vauxhall Adam will be in showrooms. Fiat needs to speed through a replacement for the Punto sooner rather than later…

The interior

The good news is that the Punto’s cabin is spacious: it accommodates four adults comfortably and the boot (275 litres) is large enough to transport their luggage. The hatchback also comes with split fold rear seats.

However, the driving position is too upright for our liking, more like an MPV than a fun-to-drive supermini, and no matter how much you adjust the seat and steering wheel for height and rake, it always feels as though you’re sitting on top of the seat, rather than in it.

The design of the dashboard is smart and simple, the controls are all in the logical places and on the Easy trim level the Punto comes with air conditioning, electrically adjusted wing mirrors and MP3 player connectivity. But the quality of fit and finish is nothing to write home about and Fiat’s reputation in independent owner satisfaction surveys is poor.

The One to Buy

Fiat Punto Easy 1.4 MultiAir.

Factfile

Price:
£12,905 (correct at time of first publication)
Engine:
1368cc, four-cylinder petrol V8
Power:
105bhp @ 6000rpm
Torque:
96 lb ft @ 4000rpm
Transmission:
6-speed manual
Acceleration:
0-62mph 10.8sec
Top Speed:
115mph
Fuel
49.6mpg combined
CO2:
133g/km
Road Tax Band:
E
Dimensions:
L 4065mm W 1687mm H1490mm

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