7 Million and counting
Seven million is the number of Fiat Puntos that have been sold around the world since the model was first unveiled back in 1995, and with over 650,000 on UK roads, Fiat clearly has cause to celebrate. Almost four years on from the launch of the strikingly different Grande Punto, the Italian firm has taken the knife to its best selling supermini range, adding 500 inspired styling tweaks, improved engines and a welcome dose of extra quality. The end result is more of an evolution than revolution, so the moniker Punto Evo seems quite apt.
The latest model features a revised front end, incorporating a new front bumper, and a grille that stretches the entire width of the nose, neatly integrating both the indicators and front fog lights. There’s also a prominent chrome strip borrowed from the snout of the smaller 500. These changes are designed to give the Punto Evo a strong family bonding with its cute and successful little brother. A reprofiled bumper and redesigned rear light clusters complete the look at the rear.
Quality is an area that hasn’t always been Fiat’s forté, but the Italian maker seems to have taken great strides. While the interior doesn’t have the solidity of a VW Polo, it is a significant leap forward from before. The chunky leather steering wheel and squidgy plastics are well finished. The dashboard is attractive, with clear dials, a gear shift indicator to help maximise fuel economy and smart piano black inserts on the fascia. At the rear, there’s plenty of leg and headroom, which means that the Evo can carry four adults with ease. Previously, it was a pain to gain entry to the boot, as you needed the key. Now, a push of the Fiat badge on the tailgate pops the boot, revealing a class competitive 275 litres of space.
Fire up the engine, and you’ll be impressed by how quiet the latest 1.3-litre MultiJet II unit is, even from cold. Fiat engineers have paid close attention to refinement on the new car, fitting an acoustic roof lining to reduce noise, and retuning the suspension for a more comfortable ride. As a result, the Evo is a much more accomplished performer, with decent handling and a supple ride. The five-speed manual gearbox is smooth and fluid, while performance is sprightly, rather than electrifying. To reduce CO2 emissions and boost economy, Fiat has fitted a stop/start system to the entire model range. For diesel buyers, there’s a choice of four trim levels (Active, Dynamic, GP and Eleganza) and two 1.3-litre MultiJet engines producing 75bhp and 95bhp respectively. The higher powered engine is only available in top-spec Eleganza trim and can optionally be mated to a six-speed dualogic automatic transmission. Towards the end of this year, a 1.6-litre Sporting version will be added to the line-up. Equipment levels are fairly generous across the range, bar the entry-level Active models which seem to suffer with a poverty type specification.
All Punto Evos come equipped with the company’s Blue&Me Bluetooth and music socket, while a dashboard mounted TomTom satellite navigation system is available at extra cost.
RIVALS: CITROËN C3, FORD FIESTA, TOYOTA YARIS, VAUXHALL CORSA
- Engine: 1248cc, 4-cylinder, turbodiesel with particulate filter
- Gearbox: 5-speed manual
- Max power: 95bhp at 4,000rpm
- Max torque: 148lb ft at 1,500rpm
- Max towing weight: 1,000kg
- Max speed: 111mph
- 0-62mph: 11.7secs
- Combined consumption: 67.3mpg
- CO2 emissions (taxband): 110g/km (B)
- Bootspace: 275/1,030litres
- Insurance group: 13