Review of "Fiat Grande Punto"

published 18/12/2007 | ScottishWestie
Member since : 29/07/2007
Reviews : 208
Members who trust : 75
About me :
Good
Pro Styling, performance, build quality
Cons Power steering too light in both modes, dealers
very helpful
Road Handling
Comfort
Features
Fuel consumption
Looks

"Stylish Italian"

As an ex-mechanic I can usually assess a car for the first time after driving it for a few miles, over a number of different roads, (country, city & motorway) I can quickly establish if it handles & performs well, how safe it is to drive, how comfortable it will be & how well constructed it is.
I recently drove the new Fiat Grande Punto 1.4 for the first time on a 350 mile trip & hope my comments will provide you with useful information. The car was a rental car I had for four days & although I had driven the old Punto before & was left less than impressed, I had previous to this occasion, never had any dealings with the new Punto.

I was handed the key at the rental desk, it has a spring loaded key blade, like a flick knife, you press a little chrome button & the key flicks out of the plastic casing. The casing has three small buttons, one for locking the car, one for unlocking & one for unlocking the tailgate, very neat.
As I walked to the car for the first time I was very impressed with the Punto's styling, it's a very elegant car from every angle, very Italian. I know looks is a very subjective matter but I think the car would be universally admired by most people. I was also impressed with the quality of the doors & the shut lines around the doors, all the gaps were even & in-line with the body.
Once inside the car the first thing you notice is how airy it feels, the large front windows & large door mirrors contribute. There are little triangle shaped windows close to the windscreen pillars ('A' post) but these don't help visibility, they actually make it worse, sitting in the drivers seat the pillar around these windows are so thick that they actually make visibility poor.
It's quite easy to get a comfortable seating position thanks to the driver's seat having a seat height adjuster, you crank a lever & the seat will raise or lower, a separate wheel allows the backrest to recline. The steering column will also adjust up & down to make things even easier. I found the seats very comfortable at first but after about an hour they became a little uncomfortable.

Although the dash top is made from hard plastic & looks cheap, let's not forget that this vehicle sells for a modest sum of money & has to compete with the value for money brands from Asia. Although it looked cheap it never squeaked, creaked or rattled the whole time I drove it & with the bottom section made from a more spongy material the overall effect was quite good.
The dials in front of the driver are easy to read & are lit in orange at night (ugh!). The speedo is located on the left with the rev counter on the right. In between are the fuel & temperature gauges & a small information centre with mileage readings, digital clock & headlamp adjuster settings. The speedo & rev counter could have done with more markings but they are still easy to read.
To the right of the dash is a multi function control for various functions, it was difficult to see when driving & confusing to operate. As the car was supplied without a handbook it's difficult to list all its functions but one of them was an annoying beeper set for when you exceed a pre determined speed.
The centre of the dash houses the air vents, switches for power steering, door locking activation & tailgate release. Below that is a radio/CD with large easy to operate buttons & a nice clear information reader. Below that are large & clearly marked heater controls that operate a very effective heater, there was no air conditioning fitted to this model. The steering wheel houses six controls for the radio/CD but they weren't very responsive in operation & often needed a stiff push to work them distracting the driver when on the move.
One minor gripe is the lack of oddment space in the cabin, the glove box is a useful size but it isn't lined so any hard objects rattle & buzz inside when driving. There is a small coin & ticket holder on the drivers inside but once again it isn't lined. There are three cup holders on the centre console but two are directly below the centre of the dash & won't hold small bottles of water. Door pockets are fitted to all four doors but don't hold much, there was no centre console box, ash tray or cigar lighter fitted to the car but a simple power socket with a flimsy cap was available.
It's quite a roomy car for its small dimensions; leg room in the back can be a little cramped but nothing worse than the competition. The front doors house the switches for the electric windows & mirrors but is placed a little too forward for taller drivers.
Why can't foreign car makers put the bonnet release lever on the right hand side for the UK market like the Japanese do?

Start the engine up & the first thing you notice is that it's rather quiet when idling, even when pushed the engine noise was well suppressed. The gear change is quite positive & light to use but sometimes when changing gear quickly it could be caught out & you would hear the dreaded crunch of gears. The ride is smooth & compliant but it's at the expense of the road holding, which was safe & secure at moderate speeds but wallowed a bit when driven a little harder. Compared to the car I drive regularly the Punto didn't feel so good in the corners & held back my confidence.
I also found the electric power steering excessively light, there are two settings, 'city' & 'normal', 'city' mode is for when parking in tight spaces where the steering becomes very light. In 'normal' mode it tightens up but still feels too light, this won't trouble many drivers but it's not something I particularly liked.
The new Punto performs well for only being 1400cc, it can keep up with the traffic on motorways no problem but does run out of puff on steep inclines. You really need to get it into 5th gear as soon as possible as it revs quite highly in 4th gear at motorway speeds wasting much fuel. I have no idea about fuel consumption except to say a tank of fuel lasted 350 miles without many problems which for a small car with a small fuel tank is very good.

The boot is spacious & carpeted but there is a high sill to lift heavy objects over which can be awkward. This model came with wheel trims, electric front windows (wind up windows at the rear), electric mirrors & radio/CD. However it didn't have air conditioning, reversing sensors or driving lamps.

I have never been a big fan of Italian cars but this impressive little car is worth considering. Whilst I had it, the badge fell off the tailgate & the gear lever gaiter started to come adrift from the lever, small minor items but with that & Fiat's reputation for dodgy electrics & lousy dealers it can put you off a little. I can't comment on durability or reliability as I didn't have it long enough, its light years ahead of the old Punto & although not perfect the new Grande Punto is a decent little car.

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Comments on this review

  • carcraig published 28/04/2008
    Nothing personal but my ex-husband had one of these and they always remind me of him.....not a good thing. Good review, though ;-) Caroline xx
  • Bens__mummy published 04/01/2008
    Great review
  • just.bcoz published 18/12/2007
    Good review
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Product Information : Fiat Grande Punto

Manufacturer's product description

Hatchback - Petrol

Product Details

Body Type: Hatchback

Fuel Type: Petrol

Country of Origin: Italy

Range: Fiat Grande Punto

Manufacturer: Fiat

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Listed on Ciao since: 12/07/2006