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Rating 7 7

Fiat Grande Punto 1.3 Multijet

9th Dec 2009 8:00 am

When it comes to ride and handling, it’s the Punto that wins hands down

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  • Make : Fiat
  • Model : Punto

One look at the Punto will assure you that Italians are indeed great at design. The Punto’s silhouette is well balanced, whichever angle you look at it. The big lights up front and the long nose look sporty and give it plenty of character. The rear gets compact lights mounted high up on the pillars. And the big wheels complete the purposeful stance. Well, Fiat owns Ferrari and Maserati; easy to understand once you look at the Grande Punto’s design. Fiat’s brand-new hatchback looks stunning from the outside. The long nose wouldn’t be out of place on a Maserati and the compact rear with those angled, high-mounted lights gives the Fiat hatch a sporty look. In the half-light, the dash looks quite attractive with the glow from the chrome-ringed dials. The doors shut with a weighty thud you only get in European cars. You feel nicely cocooned from the outside elements and insulation from the road is pretty good.

Jump inside and the interiors aren’t as roomy as you expect in a four-metre-long car. The front seats are large, there’s plenty of headroom, seat travel is good and the cabin feels wide and airy. The steering and driver’s seat both adjust for height too. However, the steering which doesn’t adjust for reach is too ‘in your face’ and the front seats slope down a bit so they lack a bit of support.

Get into the back seat, especially behind a six-foot-tall driver, and legroom is in short supply. However, it’s just the legroom that is a problem in the Punto. With the front seats pulled forward, the back seat is pretty comfortable.

The Grande Punto is also very well equipped. The Emotion variant comes with an iPod dock, voice-activated Bluetooth pairing for your phone, climate control, ABS and twin airbags. The information display informs you of cabin temperature and fuel consumption.

The steering wheel is great to hold and even the gear lever has a sporty feel. However, when you take a closer look, the quality of certain plastics is quite disappointing. The Grande Punto is short on storage space as well. It has shallow cupholders and small door pockets. The car, however, does have a largish boot that measures 280 litres, plenty of space for a car in this class.

There’s little doubt about Punto’s ride and handling prowess. It’s the car you can enjoy most, thanks to a beautifully balanced chassis, fantastic grip, accurate steering and perfect damping. Over any surface at any speed, the Punto remains unfazed and the refined suspension simply goes about its job keeping you completely isolated from the crater you just drove through.

The Grande Punto drives over the broken roads with utter nonchalance. Nothing seems to faze the Fiat as it effortlessly skips and splashes over potholed tarmac. Key to the Grande Punto’s terrific poise, especially over rough roads, are the large 195/60 R15 tyres, stiff chassis and absorbent suspension with a perfect spring and damper set-up. With its suspension raised for India, the Grande Punto does roll a bit into corners but this detracts little from the driving experience.

The superbly weighted and accurate hydraulic steering gives you an almost rally-car-like feel. What’s also special is the flat and consistent manner in which the suspension works. There’s none of the nose-heaviness or heaving that plagues most front-wheel-drive hatchbacks.

Quite simply, at highway speeds nothing comes close to the Punto. The suspension is amazingly quiet but it misses the low-speed suppleness of the Fabia, its only true rival in the ride and handling department.
 

Fiat Grande Punto 1.3 Multijet
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