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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For The practical, hard-wearing, roomy cabin

Against The ride quality leaves a bit to be desired

Verdict Gives you a lot of space for a small outlay

Go for… 1.2 (80) Dynamic

Avoid… 1.2 (60)

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Fiat Punto Hatchback full review with expert trade views

The biggest draw, apart from price, is the amount of space you get. There's plenty of headroom and legroom throughout and you can fit three in the back without too much sweat.

Even the boot is a decent size and you can swell the carrying capacity with the split/fold rear seats fitted to most models.

Visibility is good, although the height-only adjustment for the steering wheel may compromise the driver's seating position. Most will find it comfortable, though.

The switchgear can take a bit of getting used to. Some of the controls are seemingly scattered at random, such as the door mirror controls sited beneath the handbrake lever.

Handling is competent, rather than fun. The steering's too vague and the body rolls too much. Most engines are willing but the 60bhp 1.2 can struggle and the 85bhp 1.9 JTD diesel is a bit noisy at speed.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Retail buyers reckon they are good value, 1.2 Active easy to find and retail

James Ruppert
Used car guru

The Punto was launched as a three- and five-door supermini in October 1999 and received a face-lift in May 2002, which brought sharper styling and more equipment.

Trim names also changed then and ran from Active, Active Sport, Dynamic, Sporting to top-trim Eleganza.

On earlier cars they are: base (no name), ELX, HLX and Sporting. Cars badged 'Speedgear' have a six-speed sequential auto gearbox.

Top of the pile is the 130bhp 1.8 HGT 3dr, a well equipped hot hatch (Abarth versions have extra body kit) but not great as a driver's car. Ignore the underpowered 60bhp 1.2-litre petrol.

Instead, pick the 80bhp 1.2 – it's eager, frugal and our favourite. It's also more widely available, cheaper and not much slower than the 95bhp 1.4 petrol.

The 70bhp 1.3 and 100bhp 1.9 JTD diesels suit the car well, too, but the 85bhp can be too noisy when pushed.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Low failure rates but costly bills for suspension - overall a good used car

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct

Only if you're its first owner and you were unwise enough to pay list price.

From new, the Punto loses value faster than a Christmas decoration in a Boxing Day sale. That's great news for the used buyer, because second-hand examples are cheap.

Be careful, though, not to pay too much for a nearly new example – Fiat dealers often hand out whopping discounts on new cars, so don't pay too much for a nearly-new car.

Fuel bills will be low. Look to get 42-50mpg from the 1.2s, mid-40s from the 1.4 and mid-30s from the 1.8 HGT. The 1.9 diesels are capable of over 50mpg and the 1.3 bumps that up to 60mpg or more.

Service costs are likely to be dearer than for a Ford Fiesta or Vauxhall Corsa, but typically you can save about 35% by going outside the Fiat network. Insurance costs are competitive, though.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Retail buyers reckon they are good value, 1.2 Active easy to find and retail

James Ruppert
Used car guru

The Punto is far more reliable and robust than its reputation suggests.

Even so, the power steering system has been known to fail and clutches can give up the ghost after as few as 40,000 miles, especially if the car has spent most of its life on city streets.

The suspension merits close scrutiny, too. It starts to rattle prematurely on some models. Watch out, too, for suspension that has been knocked out of alignment by bangs against the kerb. (Examine the alloy wheel rims or wheel trims for signs of abuse and check that it drives and pulls up in a straight line.)

Claims made by customers of Warranty Direct highlight the suspension as the area of main concern, closely followed by electrics and the cooling/heating system.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Low failure rates but costly bills for suspension - overall a good used car

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct
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