ROAD TEST:

Fiat Punto 1.3 MultiJet Easy
Three-Door review

Fiat Punto.
Engine
1248cc, 4 cylinders
Power
85bhp
Transmission
5-speed manual
Fuel/CO2
80.7mpg / 90g/km
Acceleration
0-62mph: 13.1 seconds
Top speed
107mph
Price
£13,400
Details correct at publication date

At the same time as revising the Punto Evo and renaming it just plain "Punto" earlier this year, Fiat introduced two new engines to the range. One was the TwinAir, which has already been dealt with in this review. The other was the one under consideration here - a new 85bhp 1.3-litre turbo diesel named, as Fiat diesels have been for quite some time now, MultiJet.

Although I wouldn't say it's the best supermini you can buy, I'm quite fond of the Punto, but the reasons for buying this particular one are more rational than emotional. The key stat here is that CO2 emissions are officially rated 90g/km, well below the threshold for Vehicle Excise Duty and the London congestion charge (the importance of that being very much related to where you live and drive, of course).

And if you can get even within 20mpg of the 80.7mpg this Punto can achieve on the EU test, you won't be visiting filling stations very often and your fuel bills will be correspondingly low.

Not surprisingly, having created a car like this, Fiat is now standing upright with its arms folded and saying, "Well, Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion, what do you think of that?" And it's true that the economicalest and most unCO2ish Polo can't better the Punto's figures. There is also a case for saying (though your mileage may vary) that the Polo is a better car, and will be worth more on the secondhand market. But the Punto is nearly £2000 cheaper to buy in the first place.

To confuse things still further, the Punto MultiJet has stiff competition from a very close relative. The Punto TwinAir petrol turbo, with official CO2 emissions of 98g/km, is also exempt from VED and the London congestion charge, and although it's not as economical the fuel it uses is cheaper. Its list price is £1300 lower, too.

Fiat Punto Interior.The TwinAir is also quieter and, thanks to its lighter engine, it rides and handles better. Then again, if the TwinAir didn't exist, I would right now be telling you that, for a diesel supermini, the MultiJet is impressively quiet, and rides and handles beautifully. It's not as immediately appealing as the TwinAir, but it does grow on you.

Gloomier news about the Punto, regardless of engine, generally relates to its rear half, where there isn't much room for back-seat passengers, the load sill is very high (though luggage capacity isn't far off that of the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa) and, like every other supermini on sale today, rear three-quarter visibility is shocking.

It's an attractive-looking little car, though, and it has the useful City option which makes the steering so incredibly light that nobody strong enough to drive a car at all could possibly tire themselves out no matter how many hours they spent meandering through narrow lanes. In City mode the steering is very sensitive at higher speeds, though, so best switch it off before you head on to a motorway.

The 85bhp MultiJet engine is not available on the entry-level Pop (though the less powerful and officially less economical 75bhp version is), so the Easy three-door tested here is the cheapest version fitted with it. You can also have it in the range-topping Lounge and in the GBT, whose name refers to the British Olympic team and has nothing to do with LGBT, which is something entirely different.

No matter what engine they have, Easy, GBT and TwinAir Puntos have all been offered since launch with a customer offer which sees over £1000 worth of extras - cruise control, climate control, much-needed rear parking sensors, the Blue&Me infotainment system and front cornering lights - added for free. At the moment, the offer is scheduled to run until the end of September this year, and although it might be extended there is no confirmation of that at the time of writing.

445stars

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