Fiat Punto Reviews from Australia and New Zealand

2006 Fiat Punto Dynamic 1.4

Model year2007
Year of manufacture2006
First year of ownership2011
Most recent year of ownership2013
Engine and transmission 1.4 Manual
Performance marks 4 / 10
Reliability marks 5 / 10
Comfort marks 4 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
4.3 / 10
Distance when acquired119640 kilometres
Most recent distance134160 kilometres
Previous carAlfa Romeo 33

Summary:

Some basic electronic niceties, but ultimately unremarkable

Faults:

Spurious computer errors eventually ceased after an injector failed and was replaced.

Injector failure - dealer quotes for replacement part only (one dealer quoted over $700 for single injector) meant it was cheaper to purchase a new injector rail with 4 injectors overseas for a fraction of this.

The car came with loose/rattling plastic parts with broken, very fine plastic mountings e.g. windscreen vent across the entire width at the front of the dash.

General Comments:

The Fiat Punto is being re-launched in Australia (2013), so hopefully new models have changed a few things since 2007?

This Punto (Grand Punto in EU) makes its 28 year old Alfa 33 predecessor seem appealing. Both cars have an almost identical footprint. The 33 was not a particularly good car, with quite a few issues that one would overlook because it had redeeming qualities. It is surprising how much designers have forgotten in the interim.

Fiat Punto has many features, but fewer benefits.

Design:

Small 1/4 windows have thick framing, as does the front windscreen. The driver cannot see out the 1/4 windows, and thick pillars create large blind spots - dangerous. Why don't designers design for driver vision? Pillars could be thin but deep, aligned to the driver's view.

2x cupholders in the central console - but they're under the low central dash module, so cannot accommodate a cup - why are they there at all? Storage area beyond 'cupholders' is even more restricted.

Placing what looks like a storage area in the centre console, under the handbrake handle, makes one wonder what happened on the day the design was approved for production. Anything placed in this area slides over the hard plastic and drops down the gap beside the seat.

Glovebox has a large wide door with the promise of plenty of storage, but on opening reveals a small irregular 'box' to one side that cannot even properly contain the car's manual.

Daily use:

When it rains and the door is opened, water drips onto the seat and door trim. This leaves water stains on the upholstery.

Australia has dirt roads - the Punto has poor/minimal dust sealing.

Wide door sills collect dust/mud that can dirty clothing as one gets in/out.

The glass sunroof has greased slides that are sure to become gritty. Dirt/leaves/blossom/insects collect around the sunroof and are difficult to remove.

The carpet is a dirt magnet that is reluctant to give up the dirt it attracts - very hard to clean.

Rear door randomly fails to shut.

The steeply raked front windscreen may help the car in crash testing, but it's difficult to reach to the front edge to clean the black film of plasticisers that have condensed on the glass after the huge plastic dash has baked in the sun.

Boot space - the Alfa had useful boot storage and would swallow quite large objects with the seats down (e.g. mountain bikes). This Fiat vehicle is the same length, but boot length/space is a joke.

Glass sunroof + glass moonroof gets hot under the Australian sun. There's resonance when the sunroof is open at about 60km/hr.

Service:

Out of sight metal parts are not finished, so working in these areas can generate blood stains e.g. replacing dash globes.

Plastic snap fitting of parts are cheap to assemble, but can break on servicing.

Some poor planning/design is evident under the bonnet too, where some fixings are almost impossible to get to e.g. bolt for engine computer bracket.

Some service parts are impossible to remove (robot may have overtightened bolts or incorrect threadlock?).

Glovebox impedes replacing the pollen filter, which has to be scrunched to twist into place.

Body:

Paint chips easily, leaving a contrasting colour undercoat.

Black paint in front of the sunroof is crazed and discoloured.

The paint on the plastic parts has faded to a different colour to the paint on metal - the car is red, which has a reputation for discolouration.

Engine:

One positive thing? - at idle the 1.4L 'FIRE' engine is reasonably smooth. At city speeds the engine is smooth and relatively quiet. My Alfa was quite the opposite - but the Alfa was far more musical and engaging.

I thought the old asthmatic Alfa was underpowered and slow, but the pathetic 1.4L Fiat engine is a new low. Painfully slow acceleration. No useful torque.

Poor performance for fuel consumption - i.e. only 57Kw for 7.7L/100km city cycle (the new model with stop start will have no more power, but better city consumption).

Driving:

Cruise control is a big advantage in these revenue raising times. You can concentrate more on the road than slight changes in the speedo needle.

Under powered - no power in 'get me out of here' emergencies, and open road overtaking is a risky undertaking - it just doesn't accelerate.

The ride is jiggly.

Understeers. There's no opportunity to adjust the front suspension geometry to try and remedy this. Poor driver feedback through the too light electric steering makes things worse.

ABS threshold is quite low.

Rattles in the driver's seat, despite all the bolts being tight.

Wind noise generated by external mirrors.

It seems cars (including the Punto) are designed for a robot to assemble cheaply, with a list of features for a salesperson to sell, a body that looks superficially appealing while hiding deficiencies, and a low priority is given to actually driving and using them. Manufacturers could benefit from focusing less on electronic features, and learning from cars that create a smile when driven.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 10th September, 2013

2001 Fiat Punto ELX 1.3

Model year2001
Year of manufacture2001
First year of ownership2009
Most recent year of ownership2009
Engine and transmission 1.3 Automatic
Performance marks 3 / 10
Reliability marks 3 / 10
Comfort marks 5 / 10
Dealer Service marks 1 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 3 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
3.0 / 10
Distance when acquired85000 kilometres
Most recent distance87500 kilometres
Previous carToyota Corolla

Summary:

Less than what I expected

Faults:

Summary: it's noisy, thirsty, and costly to fix and buy parts.

I bought this vehicle as a used Japanese import. It came with just one key, the first shock was trying to get a spare key made in NZ, you can't get one anywhere other than through a Fiat dealer, cost of the blank key nearly NZ $600, plus programming/cutting cost. At that price, I could get one made from solid gold from a jewelery store.

Reason I chose this car was for its economy; well, I was disappointed, a tank of 40 litres will do about 500km, not bad, but not great neither. Compare this to my Honda Fit (Jazz), 35 litres can do about 600km.

The noise, let's just say you can hear the engine clearly, and the road noise even louder and clearer, especially on the motorway (highway). The radio and the conversation in the car just fades away.

Another issue for the short time I had it, the battery went flat. That's fine, batteries do go flat with age. However, the warning light came on and won't reset, and it needed to be taken to the mechanic with the fancy computer scanner to reset it. A few guys quoted me $100 odd dollars just to reset the light. It seem like a small issue, but it's enough to fail the Warranty of Fitness in NZ (equiv of the MOT in the UK). Compare this to a Japanese vehicle, the mechanic said Japanese vehicles usually don't need a reset for such trivial matters, just disconnect from the battery for 10 seconds and the warning light will be reset.

As for the spare key problem I mentioned earlier. Well, I did a DIY solution on it. Consider the car is worth about $4500, a spare key cost over $600. What I did instead was I took the transponder chip out of the original key and glued it near the sensor under the steering column. And made a spare for $8.

General Comments:

Some positive points though, the seats are comfortable. The acceleration good. However, because of the noise, I rate the comfort rating down.

Would I recommend it, absolutely not.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 26th November, 2010

26th Nov 2010, 13:34

Your Fiat was designed (on the drawing boards) long and truly before the Jazz was out (I assume you are talking about one from the early or mid-'00s). Old technology. Not surprising.

But what I will say is that being a Japanese import, the automatic gearbox is what drags your fuel consumption down big-time. 500 km on 40L is 12.5 km/L.

My most recent cars were automatic Audis and a Galant, also automatic. Average consumption was about 8-8.5 km/L (40L goes 320-340 km) without air conditioning, city with some motorway driving. Consistently. Unless I drive to Tauranga or to the ski fields, it improves to about 12.5 km/L.

I just changed to a 2001 BMW hatchback, 1.8 with a manual gearbox. I log my mileage, and consistently, over two months, the same route gets me anything from 11 - 12 km/L (40L goes 440-480 km). It is NOT a light car - only about 100kg lighter than either the Galant or my old Audi A4. I'm certain that if you go ask a Fiat Punto driver with a manual gearbox, they'd probably be getting closer to 14-15 km/L (40L does 560-600 km). It won't get to the Jazz's level, as the Jazz is a far more advanced engine.

Ingenious on the transponder chip, very commendable! But, yep, new cars have very expensive keys. The Fiat's though was steeper than I expected. My Audi A4 needed a duplicate key, the blank was only $49 (another variant needs a $80 blank), and had to be programmed at the dealership for $75. My Galant's blanks were at $80, and coding was about $120 at a dealership. Perhaps the blank they quoted you had the remote control door lock buttons. Still, for a Fiat, steep.

As for resetting the warning light, don't go to a dealership. If you're in Auckland, there are numerous independent garages that specialise in European cars (try Italian Autos in Otahuhu) who'd probably charge much less. Unless Fiats are indeed more expensive to run than Audis and BMWs.

Average review marks: 4.0 / 10, based on 3 reviews