ROAD TEST:

Fiat Punto TwinAir Five-Door review

Fiat Punto TwinAir.
Engine
875cc, 2 cylinders
Power
85bhp
Transmission
6-speed manual
Fuel/CO2
67.3mpg / 98g/km
Acceleration
0-62mph: 10.7 seconds
Top speed
107mph
Price
£12,700
Details correct at publication date

In my experience, the Fiat Punto is not often referred to in conversations about superminis. Corsas and Clios, yes. Far Eastern rivals, certainly. And people won't shut up about the Fiesta. But you don't hear much about the Punto.

Fiat Punto TwinAir.This is something of a pity, because it's a good little car. Oh, there are problems here and there, such as the below-average luggage capacity, the cramped rear passenger area and, in the five-door, the complete lack of rear side windows. But it's pretty, and it's nice to drive, and I like it. So there.

My favourite Punto is the TwinAir, a word used not only to describe the trim level but also to indicate the presence of the 875cc two-cylinder turbo petrol engine under the bonnet. Regular readers will need no reminding that I'm a big fan of the TwinAir unit and its tremendously clever MultiAir technology, and if you've read our short test of this car you'll know that, in the Punto but not so far in the 500 which was the first car to be fitted this engine, Fiat has given it a dual mass flywheel.

The only thing you need to know about the dual mass flywheel is that it absorbs some of the vibrations inherent in a two-cylinder engine and basically makes it appear to run more smoothly. The difference between the purr of the Punto and the throb of the 500 is very noticeable, and back in June I wrote that I thought it would make it easier to achieve good fuel economy because there would be less temptation to rev the engine higher than necessary.

In fact the temptation is still strong, and I saw the gearshift advisory light on the instrument panel more often than I'd hoped I would. But I did try to drive reasonably economically, and as a result I averaged about 48mpg over the course of a week.

Fiat Punto TwinAir.That's not too bad for an 85bhp petrol-fuelled car of this size, but it's a very long way from the 67.3mpg recorded on the official EU test. I don't often match EU figures, but I can usually get closer than that. My figure was also well short of the 54mpg I managed last year in the 500 TwinAir, whose notional combined economy is 68.9mpg. Quite why I got 5mpg closer to the official result in that car than I did in the Punto, I have no idea.

My fuel usage may bear no relation to yours, but I would have to assume that most people will find running costs to be higher than they might expect while reading the brochure (though if you regularly have to travel into the London congestion zone you'll save quite a bit of money, since the TwinAir is exempt from the charge).

More positively, the TwinAir is a particularly delightful car to drive. Even with the test car's £200 optional Sport suspension (which didn't seem sporty at all, to be honest) it's soft and well-damped, it rides beautifully and, unless you do something quite amazingly stupid, it goes where you point it. I could live with this car simply because it's so much fun, and hang the fuel costs and practicality issues.

A couple of minor points in closing. First, the Punto is not short of cupholders, but Fiat still has a habit of placing one of them so close to the centre section of the fascia that none but the smallest of cups can be persuaded to stand upright in it.

Second, an even more bizarre Fiat habit of recent years has been to make it impossible to switch the sidelights on or off without hunting through menus in the trip computer. In the 2012 Punto this policy has been reversed, and the sidelights can once more be controlled simply by flicking a switch, as should have been the case all along.

445stars

Comments

Sorry to be an "aged flatulence" but the place for two cylinder engines is the Veteran Car Run which I enjoyed watching yesterday! If, in order to provide smoother running, such a power unit needs a dual mass flywheel then get a similarly equipped diesel which will actually provide consumption figures in striking distance of the official ones. A good diesel tends to be more relaxed at speed than its petrol counterpart also.

Two (and three) cylinder power units are a rather cynical means for manufacturers to cost cut under the camouflage of harrumphings from anti diesel reactionaries.

And what the dealers don't tell you is it will take up to 10000 miles to run in the engine before it achieves anywhere near the mpg figures. I took my car back inside a week when it only did 250 miles on a tank full. The dealers solicitors won the day and I was forced to reclaim it. I now get 450 mpg and am reasonably happy with the car. Had it a year now and it was great getting the new road tax for £0.

450 miles per tank rather than mpg, presumably? Cars do generally perform better and use less fuel as they get older (up to a point, of course), and in fact this effect is incorporated into the official EU economy test results. The assumption there is that the car has done 3000km, or 1875 miles, which is a lot less than your 10,000. We can quite believe that you're using less fuel at 10,000 than you were at 1875.

Add new comment

Plain text

To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.
Type the characters you see in this picture. (verify using audio)
Type the characters you see in the picture above; if you can't read them, submit the form and a new image will be generated. Not case sensitive.

Request a Fiat Brochure

All the choice and model options delivered straight to you.

Request a Fiat test drive

Try a fiat before you buy - get a test drive from your local dealer!

Model Search

Manufacturer Search

back to top