Well rounded, good looking, warm hatch at a reasonable price
The CD player sometimes decides there is no CD in, and won't play. Only ejects after holding the button.
The 3rd fan speed is broken and doesn't blow at all.
The car has reasonable performance, pretty good if considered along with the running costs. 13 km/l is possible in the city and 17 km/l is possible on the highway at 120 km/h. So you'll definitely save some money. Service costs are high for a Fiat, and high compared to the Grande Punto's competition, BUT the performance of this car is much higher than the non-turbo competitors. Obviously the 207 RC will eat it alive, but it costs about 20% more and uses more fuel. So I'd have to say that as far as cost/benefit, it's a pretty good buy.
Coming from a chipped Audi A3, obviously the car is not nearly as fast, but it will take on passing and highway travel up hills with aplomb. The massive torque and sixth gear are fantastic. The cruising range on the highway is about 700 km, which translates into fewer refueling stops. The tank is only about 45 liters, which seems small, but even in the city that works out over 500 kms between refueling, which means you practically never visit the pumps.
The handling is reasonably good, but this is a heavy car and when it's pushed to the limit, this shows. Fortunately the standard 17 inch alloys (apart from looking spectacular) and standard bridgestone rubber keeps the car in line, and with standard traction and stability control you can maintain a good pace without ever really testing the limits.
The driver and passenger seats are fantastic, they provide enough support without being intrusive like some "sport" seats with massive bolsters can be. The driving position is quite good, even for me at 1.94 meters or 6 foot 4 inches tall. The rear seats are pretty good too, I can't sit behind myself, for example, but with a shorter driver there is pretty good rear room. The system that provides rear seat access is excellent, much better than the system on other 2 door hatches. The boot is pretty spacious, definitely enough to carry shopping bags or luggage for a weekend getaway.
As for looks, I'd have to give the car 10/10, between the mini-Maserati front and the 17 inch alloys, the car attracts a lot of positive attention without being ostentatious. The Grande Punto will probably go down in history as one of the most successful small car designs in history.
At first the clutch and the brakes seemed touchy, after 10000 km I'm used to it and don't notice at all. The ride is very good for a car on 17 inch alloys, and it's competitive with other cars of this size and cost. Larger C segment cars with independent suspension obviously are much, much smoother, but I can't complain.
The stereo is excellent for the cost of the car, it has plenty of power and reasonable bass. The trip computer has a lot of functionality and is very easy to use.
The HVAC system is not the greatest, I have a manually operated system (no climate control) with AC. The AC blows quite cold, but the fan has no power and makes a lot of noise while blowing very little air. Also apparently there is no pollen filter, which means that dust and junk blows through, especially on 4rth speed and gets in your eyes. The heat is fantastic and comes on right away.
As for annoying stuff, the seat belt beep and the huge turning radius really tick me off. I always wear the belt, but the beep is annoying and goes off if you go over 20 km/h for even a second. The turning radius is really inexcusable, it turns parallel parking into a major PITA. Also, I'm not totally crazy about the way the trunk/boot opens, and I think that the "fix a flat" system that they have included in lieu of a spare is totally inadequate.
Anyway, for the approximately USD 20.000 that this car costs in Chile, you could do much, much worse. Insurance is reasonable and running costs are too. FIAT service is nothing to write home about but it's at least courteous and certainly a lot more efficient than Audi. So it's a car that's very well rounded, that is to say, quite fast, quite usable, and fairly economical. And looks great.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 4th November, 2008