Fiat Punto Evo Dynamic 1.4 16v MultiAir 105bhp

January 2010

picture of car from the front

New grille is most obvious change from the front

Ratings

Overall Rating 7Overall rating

Value for money Rating 7Value for money

Space and Practicality Rating 9Costs

Space and Practicality Rating 6Space and practicality

Controls and display Rating 7Controls and display

Comfort Rating 7Comfort

Security Rating 7Car security

Safety Rating 8Car safety


Likes

  • Outstanding MultiAir engine
  • Small styling changes bring a big improvement
  • Start-Stop on all models a welcome addition
  • Improvements in cabin welcome

Gripes

  • Some trim elements feel below par
  • Electric steering lacks precision
  • Not as spacious as some rivals
  • Rear pillar blocks over the shoulder vision

The Fiat Grande Punto was never short of competition in the supermini sector, but now there is a revised version in the form of the Punto Evo. With new engines, a design refresh inside and out plus numerous mechanical and specification tweaks, the Punto Evo is ready to do battle with the established small car rivals.

Small cars have always been a big part of the Fiat philosophy, and its most famous and successful cars have always been at the keenly-priced end of the market. The Grande Punto was a step up in terms of offering a better cabin and more refinement than the traditional small car, and this is something which has clearly been continued into the new Punto Evo.

The exterior design may have only been subtly changed, but it remains a distinctive and classy shape. The changes include black inserts to the new front and rear bumpers, a slimmer grille with a chrome flash depending on the trim level and new rear lights. Upmarket versions such as the Sport get an alternative grille style to differentiate it from other models.

A bigger part of the Punto Evo transformation occurs in the engine room, where it adopts two new engine ranges. Although the new MutiJet II engines will have a strong appeal for buyers as they offer improved power, refinement and economy, it is the new MultiAir petrol range that is grabbing the attention.

The MulitAir engine comes in 1.4-litre guise in a choice of two outputs, and its key advantage is the use of an electronically activated intake valve system to maximise efficiency and performance. By changing the timing and duration of the intake phase throughout the engine speed range, it offers an increase in power and torque through the rev range as well as better economy. Matched to the Start-Stop system fitted across the range, the MultiAir units give the Punto Evo a real advantage over its rivals.

Our verdict on the Fiat Punto Evo Dynamic 1.4 16v MultiAir 105bhp

The Punto Evo brings some extra quality and style to the small Fiat, and the addition of the superb MultiAir engines is also a big plus. The Punto Evo is attractive and good value, although it still remains something of a left-field choice and can't offer the same level of driving pleasure and practicality offered by the best rivals.

Costs
Costs rating 9

Thanks to the efficiency gains through the MultiAir power unit and standard Start-Stop function, the Punto Evo should achieve very low running costs. Although the performance factor will push the insurance rating up slightly, overall it should still be one of the cheapest models in the class to run.

Space and practicality
Space and Practicality Rating 6

Although similar in size to many of its supermini rivals, space inside the Punto Evo is average for the class. Space efficiency is decent with room up front for taller people, but the rear is a little cramped compared to some of the competition and the boot space is also average.

picture of car from the rear

Rear lights are the biggest change at the rear

Controls and display
Controls and Display Rating 7

The revised cabin layout in the Punto Evo is a big improvement on the outgoing car, with better quality materials and smarter design. The main console has chunky and attractive buttons which are pleasing to press, while the chunky steering wheel and smart instruments are nice touches. One slight issue is the trip meter and information display, which uses a combination of buttons making it a little hard to navigate whilst on the move.

Comfort
Comfort Rating 7

The Punto Evo does a good job of offering some 'big car' feel, thanks to the comfortable seats, decent sound proofing and overall refinement. The overall ride quality is good too, sufficient to make it a car capable of coping with traffic, motorways and country roads with ease. Long journeys will present no problem either.

Car security
Security Rating 7

The Punto Evo gets remote locking with deadlocks on all models, plus the added reassurance of an engine immobiliser to keep determined thieves at bay.

Car safety
Safety Rating 8

The Punto Evo has a large compliment of safety kit including a driver's knee airbag on all models, something of a rarity for the class. ESP is also available although it is only standard on two models and optional on the remaining three.

Driver appeal
Driver Appeal Rating 7

Without major suspension changes in the transformation to Punto Evo, it offers a good balance between ride and handling. There is good bump absorption on the poorest of roads and, although it does not offer the best handling, it is also sharp enough to be enjoyable when pressed on the right type of road. Better still is the impressive MultiAir power unit. Even at low revs it offers near diesel-like torque, pulling easily in a high gear that would normally leave a petrol engine struggling. Yet it is also happy to rev, with the lower output 105bhp version proving to be even more keen to rev right around to 7,000rpm than the more powerful version found in the Sporting. The Start-Stop system also works seamlessly, which makes the Punto Evo an enjoyable car to drive whatever the conditions.

picture of car interior

Interior is much improved in quality and design

Family car appeal
Family Appeal Rating 7

The Punto Evo in five-door form would offer a degree of family practicality, with Isofix seat mounting points and better access to the rear seats, although ultimately its family status would be limited due to its overall lack of size and space.

First car appeal
First car Rating 8

The Punto Evo would make a good choice for a first car, as it has plenty of visual and dynamic appeal while still keeping costs low and safety high. It also offers good performance from its modest 1.4-litre engine but without an insurance or economy penalty.

Quality and image
Quality and Image Rating 8

The last generation Punto had a good sense of quality, something which Fiat has struggled with in the past, but the Punto Evo takes that forward thanks to the improvements in cabin trim. Fit and finish is to a good standard, if behind the best in class. The Punto Evo's image is also relatively strong, although seen as something of an unusual choice in the segment, it draws on the Italian flair that helps its smaller sibling, the Fiat 500.

Accessibility
Accessibility Rating

With three-door versions likely to be most popular, access to the rear seats is crucial. Thankfully the Punto Evo's seats tilt and slide to allow passengers easy entry to the rear bench. Those up front can also slide into position easily, without the need to duck down too low.

Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)

All Punto Evo models come with a radio/CD unit that can play MP3 CDs and has additional controls mounted on the steering wheel. The system's sound quality is respectable and the display is clear and informative.

picture of car in detail

New MultiAir engines are a big step forward

Colours and trim

Like many small cars, the Punto Evo looks best in brighter colours, especially as there is now a contrast with the dark grey bumper inserts. The higher-specification models also look sharper when alloy wheels are fitted. On the inside the addition of piano black finish to the centre console adds a welcome dash of class and quality.

Parking

The Punto Evo is relatively easy to park, thanks to its compact dimensions. The thick rear pillar does hamper vision over the shoulder however, and parking sensors are standard only on the Eleganza model, being an option on other versions.

Spare wheel

Puncture repair kit is fitted to all models although a space-saver or full size spare is available depending on the model.

 

Range information

Petrol engine options - 1.4-litre (77bhp); 1.4-litre MultiAir (105bhp and 135). Diesel engine options - 1.3-litre (75bhp and 95bhp). Transmission options: five and six-speed manual gearbox, five and six-speed Dualogic clutchless manual gearbox. Trim levels: Active, Dynamic, Eleganza, GP and Sporting.

 

Alternative cars

Ford Fiesta Smart design, great to drive, still the pick of the superminis

Vauxhall Corsa Capable, well equipped and strong engine range

Volkswagen Polo Latest model offers even more quality and comfort

Peugeot 207 Interesting design and still good to drive, excellent diesel engines



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January 2010