£11,900 - £13,775 Price range
49 - 53 MPG
First came the Fiat Punto, in 2004. Launched at the same sort of time as the contemporary Maserati Quattroporte, the smaller car had more than a hint of the larger one and drew plenty of praise for its styling and the way it drove.
Then came the Punto Evo, in a moment of madness that ruined the Punto’s pretty styling. Fiat rectified this in 2012 with the Punto you see here, but by then it was too late – the car is getting on a bit these days, reviews are poor, and there are plenty of better options out there…
There’s little overtly wrong with the Punto’s cabin – other than over-the-shoulder visibility, which one tester calls “shocking”, but in the decade since this general shape of Punto appeared the game has rather moved on.
The cabin is attractive enough but there are concerns over the car’s build quality, which lags the best in the class. The word “flimsy” appears on occasion, and one review suggests you’d be better off in Fiat’s own Panda – while smaller, its youth pays dividends in terms of quality next to the older Punto. It’s relatively comfortable at least, and while the rear seats are a bit gloomy there’s decent head and legroom. Boot space now lags behind its rivals.
At launch the Punto was praised for its drive, but again, the intervening decade hasn’t been kind to it. Ride quality and ease of use are the Punto’s two main redeeming features, the former adept at soaking up city bumps and the latter aided by a ‘City’ mode for the steering, which reduces steering effort and makes twirling the wheel a cinch. It’s respectably refined at speed, too.
But if you’re looking for composed cornering or a bit of fun, there’s nothing to see here. One tester calls the body control “shoddy”. And while that steering is light, the turning circle isn’t great for a car designed mainly for town use either.
We suspect the Punto is soon for the chopping block, because Fiat has quietly discontinued several of its engines over the last year or so. The wide range of MultiAir petrols and characterful TwinAir units have disappeared, and we’re left with a couple of small-capacity petrol engines and a single version of the 1.3 Multijet diesel.
To be fair, the remaining units aren’t bad. The 1.2-litre petrol hasn’t been tested, but the 1.4 is smooth, even if it’s not overly quick. The Multijet diesel is probably best of the bunch, with 80mpg economy and respectable punch at low revs. Does cost a bit more to buy, mind.
As you'd expect from a small capacity diesel in a small car, economy is its main calling card. It'll do up to 80.7 mpg in fact, though real-world mileage is likely to be in the 60s. With a 90 g/km CO2 figure, VED is entirely gratis too.
Unfortunately, there's not a great deal written on the way the engine feels in the car, but the good news is the engine gets plenty of praise in other cars, such as the smaller Panda. There, refinement is quite good providing you don't drive everywhere flat out, and there's decent punch from low revs. It could be the Punto to go for - but really, other cars in the class are better (and equally economical) these days.
With fuel economy of just under 50 mpg, it's on par with similarly-engined rivals, and it's a smooth engine too. With just 76 bhp to call upon you do need to push it hard for its 13.2-second 0-60 sprint, but the gearbox is easy enough to use.
As with other Punto variants here though, you're better off buying a different car altogether than buying a Punto just for its half-decent engine - the car is long overdue a replacement.
When it comes to superminis, safety is rarely a great selling-point and the Punto is no exception to the rule. The sheer diminutive stature of these cars means they are never going to be as safe in a collision as a large saloon or an SUV, which means they can only make up that deficit with clever safety features. Unfortunately, the Punto isn’t exactly bristling with such technology other than the minimum acceptable amount of airbags.
The entry level offers just four airbags, although you can get knee and side airbags by going up the specification ladder.
The Punto isn’t the worst in its class when it comes to safety, but it is a long way from being anywhere near the best.
The Punto is a bit cheaper than several rivals, but you really get what you pay for in this class. It’s not cheap enough to be tempting on price alone like a Dacia Sandero, nor does it represent good enough value to tempt you away from the insignificant increase in monthly payments for something like a Fiesta.
Depreciation is also likely to be pretty bad, though you’ll fight back somewhat when it comes to economy, particularly with the Multijet engine.
There’s little to note, other than to seriously look elsewhere for your next car. If you happen to like Fiats then the Panda has grown in its latest incarnation, drives better and feels of higher quality.
Once a worthy choice within its class, the years haven’t been kind to the Punto. It’s still a nice-looking thing, but a dearth of available engines, a low-quality cabin and dubious residuals all conspire to make it an unwise purchase. We really hope Fiat has a new Punto on the horizon soon.
The Punto used to be able to make a case for itself on price if nothing else, but Dacia’s entry into the market has removed the Punto’s last claim to any sort of USP. Don’t forget though, that the Punto has been written-off by plenty of commentators before, so it may be too soon to deliver the last rights just yet.