Fiat has just released an improved version of their Grande Punto. Apart from mostly interior changes the Grande Punto now has two new engines. Both upgraded and improved from the previous models.
The exterior of the Grande Punto, designed by Italdesign's Giugiaro, has remained the same.
It still has clean lines with a waistline that runs from the headlights higher towards the rear. Both the side ? notice the absence of door protectors ? and the rear are clean and complement the overall design.
The new 1.4-litre 16-Valve Starjet petrol engine replaces the 1.4-litre 8-Valve engine. This new engine produces 70 kW at 6 000 r/min and 125 Nm torque at 3 000 r/min That is a 13 kW and 10 Nm improvement on the outgoing unit.
Acquiring the extra performance, improvements have been done to the engine.
It now features a variable swirl combustion system and variable valve timing which is managed by the injection control unit.
This helps reduce fuel consumption and exhaust emission by allowing a part of the exhaust gasses to be recirculated.
The second new edition is the 1.3-litre Multijet common rail turbo diesel engine. It has 66 kW at 4 000 r/min and 200 Nm torque at 1 750 r/min.
This was the pick of the two to drive. Even being only 1.3-litre it surprises with the amount of torque, even in fifth gear.
Apart from the claimed 11.9 seconds (11.4 seconds for the petrol) sprint to 100 km/h and 175km/h top speed it will only use around 4.6l/100 km on a mixed cycle whereas the petrol is said to use 6l/100 km.
The diesel engine was enhanced by increasing the permeability of the inlet as well as the exhaust manifolds and turbulence has been reduced in the combustion chamber.
While the diesel comes with a five-speed gearbox the petrol has a new six-speed transmission which has an easy shift action in the same way that the steering and three pedals operates.
The cabin has received attention and this is immediately noticeable. There are now soft-touch materials with a clear lack of crackly plastics. They are also different colours, mostly darker, than previously. The seats are soft and comfortable and easy to get into and out of.
Behind the wheel both these Fiats felt remarkable solid and a pleasure to drive. Unfortunately there were no serious twists to test the cars setup through a corner but other than that there was little to fault.
The power steering is light but not overly so. There is the button on the centre dash that makes the steering a touch lighter, ideal for parking manoeuvres, as Fiat themselves explained, really a necessity in Italy.
The Grande Punto has received a five-star safety rating by Euro NCAP. Standard equipment includes six airbags, ABS brakes with EBD, air conditioning and a six-speaker Radio/CD-player.
Overall the Fiat is now an even more attractive option than before.
The improved engines give it a welcome performance edge and the cabin is more welcoming than before.
Service intervals is only every 30 000 km for both petrol and diesel models and the warranty is two-year/unlimited kilometres or an additional 12-month warranty with 100 000 km.
Finally, included in the price is a five-year/90 000 km service plan.
Fiat Grande Punto 1.4 16-Valve Starjet R141 800
Fiat Grande Punto 1.3 16-Valve Multijet R150 900