Fiat Punto Hatchback 1999-2003

Fiat Punto Hatchback 1999-2003

Review by it
Monday, May 16, 2016

Pros:

  • Reliable and practical
  • Enough room for 5 people
  • Many variations to choose from
  • Bright colours and fresh design

Cons:

  • Expect a bumpy ride

Overview

The Punto was one of the leaders of its class in the mid 2000s. It's a very successful car offering a lot for a relatively low price. During its hey-day 35 variations were produced simultaneously. The first generation Punto, that replaced the well-loved but outdated Uno, was a great little car. The 2nd generation, however, sees a further improvement making a valid question: why would you not want a Punto?

Exterior and Interior

The original Punto made debut in 1993 and was instantly recognised as a spacious and practical car. When the time came to update the classic model, the Fiat engineers had a massive task on their hands. How do you improve something that is already so good? In 1999, the new Punto (Nueva Punto as it was called in Italy) came about in a brand-new three door and five-door design with a completely overhauled chassis and body. A face-lifted version followed in 2002. The main trim levels that are available are Active Sport, Active, Eleganza and Dynamic. Multiply it by the huge number of petrol and diesel engines and you're really spoilt for choice. You keep wondering how they managed to fit so much space inside such a small car. It is a proper 5-seater and its secret is in its long wheelbase. It is visibly and technically a class lower than the Golf, yet its wheelbase is only 2 inches shorter than the Golf. The cabin is laid out in a way that it provides enough legroom and a decent 297-litre boot space. Fold the seats away and it transforms into a small pick-up offering 1080 litres of luggage space. Visually, the car is appealing. With the narrow headlamps (which by the way are made of a clever plastic that is capable of healing the scratches) and a wedge-like body style it leaves an impression of a dynamic and capable car. It's pretty well equipped car. If you're lucky you'll find a 2nd hand Punto with all the possible bells and whistles, including air-bags and electric windows and mirrors. You'll require some time to find certain knobs and controls. And be sure to prepare some Post-Its as you'll keep forgetting where things are ‐ the interior has an enormous number of nook, crannies and storage compartments of various sizes.

Performance and Economy

The Puntos provides a decent economy level. The 16-valve 1.2-litre engine can manage 36mpg in the city. When it comes to high-way driving, all Puntos should be able to manage at least 40mpg. Insurance is one thing to consider. The very basic 1.2-litre 60BHP version can be insured in a 7 group. But then we decided not to touch the basic version. More powerful models will even touch the insurance group 14-17 and the top-of-the-range 1.8 HGT will be expensive to insure.

Like to Drive

Because of its relatively long wheelbase and short body, you will have to get accustomed to driving and parking it. Steering is another thing that needs getting used to ‐ you can barely feel the road as you steer. Once you get it right, you'll actually enjoy driving it. The only criticism we might have is the stiff suspension, which plagues most of the Fiats range. Unless it's a 60BHP version, the car will be quick to accelerate and happy to drive at high speeds, especially the 6-speed manual version.

Faults and Repairs

It is one of the most reliable Fiats around. Although not saved from the inherited Fiat-problems, it's not likely to give you too much of a headache. Suspension is one thing to check when buying a used Fiat. Also the electric system is prone to faults. The Punto is a city-car hence some older examples will be suffering from typical city-car ailments ‐ wobbly clutches and tired brakes.


Overall Rating:
Review by freeweaver
Monday, May 16, 2016

Overview

"Comfortable and quiet considering its age"

Exterior and Interior

My first impressions when seeing the Punto on the car-lot was that it has an understated look. The look seems to be just as accepted by both men and women alike. Its small size and modest lines mean that the only thing that makes it stand out are its quirky back end.

Performance and Economy

For a 1.2 the Punto seems nippy. You'll have no problems accelerating on to a busy roundabout or filtering into motorway traffic. Yet even though its relatively nippy, you can still expect to get between 40 - 45mpg while driving around a city and 50 - 55mpg whilst on long motorway hauls.

Like to Drive

The ride is surprisingly smooth with nothing much to complain about. In fact, I'm kind of lost for what to write as everything seems to be normal. The steering is responsive but not sporty, the only thing I can think of as a small problem is a niggling squeeking sound that's appeared over time. <

Faults and Repairs

I've had very few faults over the period I've had it. The only annoyance is the small squeeking noise mentioned previously. Everything else has been fine. No rust problems nor any major mechanical problems, its been a very reliable car all round.
Quality
Performance
Comfort
Value