Once at the top of its game in the competitive supermini segment, the Fiat Punto now struggles to compete. Despite modest tweaks over the years, it is a model in need of a complete upgrade.
Like the smaller Fiat Panda in the Fiat family line-up, the Punto only comes with the choice of the same 1.2 three cylinder petrol engine with 69bhp. When compared to competitors like the excellent Ford Fiesta and reliable Volkswagen Polo, the Fiat Punto just can’t compete in terms of performance or economy. It’s more disappointing than bad however for a car that can still compete in terms of aesthetics. If the TwinAir engine was an option, it might bring this dwindling model somewhat to life.
Unfortunately for the Fiat Punto, its underpinnings are as dated as the rest of the car. While tweaks to the exterior over the years have kept it reasonably up to date in terms of looks, it still sits on a chassis that is now rolling on ten years old. Supermini’s are supposed to be a bit of fun, but handling is a lacklustre experience most of the time and its overly light steering does not help the situation. At the same time, around town, the Punto is still a good driver. Its light steering works well in this environment making it easy to manoeuvre around busy towns and making it simple to park.
The Punto is available in two trims Pop and Easy. Standard specification with the Pop is not bad bringing with it alloy wheels, air conditioning and a trip computer. The Easy specification does pack the modern additions you get in most of its rivals like climate control and satellite navigation. Engine refinement is not its best point with the 1.2 really having to be pushed to get up to motorway speeds. The ride comfort is not bad overall soaking up everyday lumps and bumps with relative ease.
The interior of the Fiat Punto is not a bad place to be and for the money of the entry level Pop, there’s not much to complain about. Ergonomics are quite good and everything feels like it’s in the right place. If you opt for the higher Easy trim level, you can add options like a leather steering wheel which does lift the quality of the interior somewhat. Without additions like these, it can feel like an abundance of plastic feeling materials.
The good news is that the Fiat Punto scored 5 stars in the Euro NCAP crash test (albeit 10 years ago), so be content in the knowledge that despite being an older model than its rivals, it’s still a safe car. It gets a full set of airbags as standard, ISO-FIX in the rear and traction control as standard. Like its Fiat Panda sibling, electronic stability control is only available as an option. An option well worth ticking. Additional features like hill assist are also available as optional safety tech.
One thing Fiat is good at is providing plenty of storage space throughout its cabins with plenty of cubbies, a decent glovebox and spacious door pockets in the Punto. That said boot space is not the best standing at just 275 litres, but the Polo and Fiesta are only marginally bigger. Space in the front and rear of the cabin is generous though with plenty of room for two adults in the back. Legroom, shoulder and headroom is all good while there is loads of adjustability in the steering wheel and driver’s seat to find a comfortable driving position.