Is the Fiat Grande Punto the best budget super mini?
Millions of families are currently living on a motoring poverty line. Petrol prices are sky high, road taxes are going up, and despite a clamp down on crash for cash criminals, insurance prices are still rocketing. It makes sense then that you should be hunting for a car that’s cheap to buy, cheap to run, and a car that also offers good equipment levels and a design not inspired by Swamp Monster.
Enter the Fiat Grande Punto, then. In the UK, the Fiat badge has taken a recent turn and become more synonymous with ‘cool people’ and ‘hipsters’. The Fiat 500 is the reason for this, with its quirky and charming characteristics, but kudos has to also be paid to the Punto which is still a prominent budget hatchback on the roads of Britain.
Almost new, this car is a bargain hunters delight. A 2012 plate Fiat Grande Punto 1.4-litre 16V in GP spec can be picked up for just under £8k, which is not very much money when you consider a Fiesta with an equivalent engine will cost a few thousand more. Yes, the Ford badge has a better rep than the Fiat badge, but come on – Fiat was placed an admirable 19th in the 2012 WhatCar reliability ratings 2012, ahead of Volkswagen, Volvo and BMW.
Out on the road the Grande Punto has a personality all of its own. The 1.4-litre engine sounds fiery when pushed, yet inside the cabin at low speeds, there is hardly any road noise whatsoever. On the motorway you’ll get around 49.6 mpg out of the engine and the 1.2-litre 16V unit is even better as far as fuel economy is concerned. One thing that the Punto does trump the Fiesta on, for us, is its driving position – you sit just high enough to have a good view of the road but because of the fairly thick pillars you feel like you’re much lower than you actually are.
We recommend avoiding the diesel engines if you can, as they’re clattery and non-involving; they are however very good on fuel. The Fiat Punto at Bristol Street Motors Derby in GP spec includes 16-inch alloy wheels, side and window air bags, ‘Guide me Home’ headlamps, iPod / MP3 connectivity and air conditioning.
The Fiat Grande Punto may not have been updated visually in a few years, but it still looks great and it can happily mix it with newer more modern hatchbacks around town.
Overall it’s hard not to recommend this hatchback to bargain hunters; it’s well equipped, spacious inside, comfortable and cheap to run no matter which engine you go for. Sure, the Fiat badge isn’t the most appealing, but its residuals are no worse than a Fiesta so long as you opt for the right trim level. We say go for the 1.4 GP and avoid the noisy diesels.