2006 Fiat Punto Dynamic 1.4 from Australia and New Zealand
Some basic electronic niceties, but ultimately unremarkable
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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