Fiat Punto Evo: driven

* New engines and swish cabin * Ride is on the firm side * On sale January, from £9900...

Fiat Punto Evo: driven
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What Car? Staff
6 Oct 2009 11:19

If youre a bit of a motorsport buff then the term Evo will probably conjure up images of fire-breathing, gravel-spitting rally cars. However, Fiat is using the tag to mark out the Evolution version of its Grande Punto supermini.

The Punto was already one of the best looking cars in its class, but that hasnt stopped the designers from giving it a thorough re-style. Theres an all-new front end that incorporates a bigger, reshaped grille, plus the front and rear light clusters and rear bumper are more intricate than before.

Classy interior and improved engines

Fiat will continue to sell the pre-facelift car as a budget alternative, but youll want to upgrade to the Evo when you see its classy new interior. The embossed upper dashboard is particularly appealing, and its combined with a piano black centre console and extra fabric on the doors.

The engine line-up has also been improved. You can still have the old Puntos 76bhp 1.4-litre petrol, but Fiat is also offering two new 1.4-litre MultiAir units, which meter out the exact fuel requirements of the engine to slash CO2 emissions and fuel consumption while boosting power and torque. Even the cheaper 104bhp version pulls smoothly from next to no revs, or if you want a bit more punch theres a 133bhp turbo.

The 1.3-litre diesel impresses, too. It features a new fuel injection system that improves flexibility and refinement, whether you choose the 74bhp variant or the 94bhp. Whats more, it meets the latest Euro V emissions standards and, like the MultiAir petrols, gets an engine stop-start system as standard.

For all the improvements, though, the Punto still needs to evolve a bit more to match the class leaders. The ride is fidgety and the steering numb, plus it can be hard to get comfortable behind the wheel.

Our verdict

Fine engines and a nice interior, but rivals are better to drive