What's the used Fiat Punto hatchback like?
Few cars have boasted as long a life as the Fiat Punto, the first example of which appeared back in 1993. True, it’s had more incarnations in that time than Doctor Who, and it’s also had a few differing names, too. In its third generation, launched in 2005, it became known as the Grande Punto, before becoming the Punto Evo in 2009, before reverting right back to the beginning with the next facelift and boasting, in 2012, just the plain old Fiat Punto badge again.
Fiat small cars have always had a reputation for innovation and spirited driving manners, and once upon a time the Punto had all of those qualities too. It is fair to say, though, that by the time this generation was launched the little Fiat had been left behind in many important areas by its more competent rivals, so much so that Fiat only offered three engine options for this particular version: a 68bhp 1.2-litre or a 76bhp 1.4-litre petrol, and the 0.9-litre turbocharged TwinAir engine, a twin-cylinder petrol-powered affair.
Trim levels have varied in name over the years the Punto’s been on sale, but they’ve always been kept simple with just two to choose from, and for the last few years these have been the Pop+ and Easy+. The entry-level model gets air conditioning, Bluetooth, USB connectivity, 15in alloy wheels and electric front windows as standard, while the Easy+ adds, among other things, 16in alloys, climate control, front fog lights and a sat-nav.
On the road the Punto feels a little dated. The engines are all rather vocal and short of puff, although the TwinAir lends the car an offbeat character, and the vague steering makes the car hard to place accurately. The handling is uninspiring, too, and although grip levels are quite good the Punto never inspires great driver confidence. The ride is choppy, verging on uncomfortable over larger road irregularities, and there’s quite a lot of wind and road noise too.
Inside there’s a good driving position, with all the major and minor controls logically situated. The interior quality is a little mixed, though, with lots of hard plastics in evidence, and the overall feel is of a cheap car. The Punto is available as either a three-door or five-door hatchback, and in either space is sufficient up front, and there’s lounging room for two in the back, with plenty of leg and head room. Three abreast is more of a squeeze, however, though possible and passable for shorter journeys. The boot is quite large and well shaped, but there is rather a large lip to haul your shopping over at the entrance to it.
Colouring all of the Punto’s appeal is the poor score it achieved in the Euro NCAP crash tests - it was the first car to score a zero rating. It scored poorly in the straightforward crash test, and was marked down heavily for its lack of safety kit, such as the emergency city braking that is a standard fitment on most modern cars. It also scored zero in the safety assist category.