1996 Fiat Punto 55 SX 1.1 petrol from UK and Ireland

Summary:

Perfect example of good marketing

Faults:

Lots:

Engine trouble.

Clutch.

Suspension.

Eats brake pads, even with careful driving.

Exhaust.

Interior trim fell to bits.

Etc, etc.

General Comments:

What can I say. Family got a 'good' deal on this nearly new Punto in 1997. We were impressed with the reviews - magazines and motoring journalists loved the Punto - it was new and stylish bubbly looking as a lot of cars in the mid 1990s were moving away from the boxy 1980s cars look.

But the new looks were about its only positive. Red 2 door, 1996 N reg. My mother and father test drive it (not for long enough) and seemed impressed enough, but they were not into cars like I was as a kid. At low mileage we had a lot of repairs; to be fair the dealer repaired most under warranty, but as the car aged and was passed onto myself as one of my first cars, the repairs still mounted up. We took care of it, drove carefully and serviced on time, but it still fell apart.

When I had it after my parents, the interior had seen average use but looked like it had the look of a 20 year old 200,000 mile car, even though it was only a few years old. Very cheap and nasty interior, I hated it. And the S and SX were very basic models, you did not get much.

To drive the handling was sharp and nice but that was it. 1.1 petrol was slow, only felt 'nippy' around town, on a country road it was useless when overtaking. Did a solid 40 MPG if you took it easy though, but this was still unimpressive - my dad had moved onto a Ford Mondeo with a 1.8 that could do close to 40 MPG as well, and was a better car in every way. I get that its a little unfair to compare a supermini/city car to a bigger family car like a Mondeo, but it was day and night between these cars, and the Mondeo was not that much more expensive and was much more reliable.

Don't get me wrong, it's not the worst car in the world (few friends had better reliability from theirs) but there are better options. I've no idea why Fiat have such a following. I've heard the one after this, the MK2 Punto, is much the same in regards to quality. As per title of my review, this really shows that you can sell any product with good marketing even if it is cheap and nasty. Those of my age in their 30s and 40s will remember the 1990s advertisements well for this car. It's a trick manufacturers still use today. Cars like this are aimed at the younger driver who has not had much experience and is easily taken in. I sold mine at 5 years old with about 73,000 on it. Glad to see the back of it. Moved on to a Ford Fiesta, then a VW Polo, much better cars in every way. Wish I got one of those to begin with.

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

Review Date: 20th October, 2019

1996 Fiat Punto 55S 1.1 from UK and Ireland

Summary:

Great wee car, if for a few niggles

Faults:

Back part of exhaust needed replacing at age 7 (approx £45).

Water bottle (?) needed replacing at age 7 (approx £25.00).

Front part of exhaust needed replacing at age 8 (approx £75).

Scooshers (screen washers for the non scottish) fail every MOT and need to be adjusted.

Rear scoosher, and rear wiper have never worked since I bought this car. However, the heated rear windscreen functions.

Lock on the driver's side has become loose or something, so basically the lock slides down into the locked position as soon as the door closes.

Release mechanism for the boot randomly stopped working, and as yet, I have never had it looked at.

General Comments:

Slight rust around bottom, but hasn't spread too much, and is pretty good considering it is 10 years old as I write this.

The car is pretty nippy considering its 1.1 engine.

Feels like it is tilting a bit too much when going round roundabouts.

Inside of the windows freeze up in the winter really badly, I'm talking thick ice!

Overall I am happy with my little car. Considering it is a smallish car, it has plenty of room on the inside, and is comfortable. Passengers have commented on the front and particularly the back seat (where cars can often fail), and how firm and high up it is, with enough leg room.

The boot is also pretty big for a small car.

The only time I think about replacing this car is when I am in a bad mood with my hands full, and can't get in the door without putting everything down (need to turn my key and lift handle at same time), or if it is winter and I need to be out 20 minutes early to de-ice both the inside and out. However, if I was to get the door fixed, and have no more cold winters, I would be happy to live with this car till it was past its best.

I have never had to spend any major cash on it, and love its nippiness.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 25th July, 2006