Fiat just got all cute with this 'baby Maserati'. And judging from some of the spy pictures and we've been seeing of late, the new modern styling with its smoother curves sets the trend for future Fiat products.
What's it about?
There was a time when Fiat was all about sportiness and style, but over the years this Italian giant seems to have lost its way.
Now, though, this is apparently all back with the Grande Punto, and it's a car which on the outside expresses smooth dynamics and elegance, all contributing to the sporty character of the car.
But while it scores top marks for its looks on the outside, it gets bit of a lashing when it comes to the interior - and it scores even fewer points for power under the bonnet.
The 1.4 8v petrol model kicks out a tiny splutter of just 57 kW, with 114 Nm of torque at 3 000 r/min.
Comparing it the Citroen C3 which is almost exactly on par in size and features and quite a few thousands rands cheaper, the Grande Punto just does not cut the grade when it comes to power.
Even an entry level Volkswagen 1.4 Chico weighing in with just 54 kW seems to have more grunt - and it is only half the price.
On the other hand the Grande Punto can seat three people comfortably on the back seat, and there is also adequate boot space to load luggage. It also comes with the usual array of comfort features such as power steering and air-conditioning.
Safety features have also been upped with two standard airbags on the Active models and six airbags on the Dynamic model range.
Other new specifications include a new chassis to absorb impact more efficiently.
The Grande Punto offers smooth driving and it's especially great for cruising on a Sunday afternoon. As it is light on fuel it is superb for city life and crazy traffic conditions.
Just don't expect to get to any destination in a hurry.
As the vehicle is rather light in weight, it doesn't sit as firmly on the road as I like, so being out on tight bends on a windy day just might be a little bit overwhelming.
The bright burnt orange colour of our test car can be a bit much at first, but then it eventually grows on you.
The black, upholstery seats match the colour of the car, making them look like racing seats. The ergonomics are simple as the controls are well positioned for ease of use. The instrument cluster with its multifunction display, speedometer and revcounter, also includes a digital clock. It blends in evenly with everything else.
If you want a funky car with power to boast, this is not what you should be looking for. It's slow. Very, very slow. The engine is extremely weak and it just feels as though there is not enough power coming through to get it going on the long road. A good word to describe it is simply "pap".
First impression of the interior looks like fun and is very colourful, but when you look closer it's actually a bit tacky and the plastics look cheap. The built-in frontloader CD/radio with its 6-speaker sound system failed to impress and sounded a bit weak. Road noise also seemed a bit higher than average while driving.
Compared to the older Fiat Punto, this Grande Punto is a real looker. It's much more appealing to the eye. You need to judge it on the fact that it's hip and funky and makes a great entry-level car for young people on the go - especially for the ladies.
But our impression is that Fiat does not have the best reputation when it comes to service. Reason for that might be that there are not many Fiat service centres available, especially in the Western Cape.
The good thing about it being so slow is that you won't need to worry about getting too many speeding tickets. Pricing is good and its fuel efficient, just don't expect any top class luxury or performance.