2001 Fiat Punto ELX 1.3 from Australia and New Zealand
Less than what I expected
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.
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
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.