Evo Dynamic 1.4 16v MultiAir 5-door
a revolution going on in
car market due to the
recession, higher motoring taxes
and less space on the roads, more
drivers than ever are downsizing.
And Fiats new Punto Evolution is
ready for the revolution...
AND DOWN-PRICING everybody's doing it, as confirmed by
the sales figures for last year: small city cars up 142%; 'supermini'
sized models up 2.2%. And sales for every other class were down. In this climate
Fiat has been hugely successful with their chic 500 range and the more traditional
but frugal Panda hatchback their UK sales last year were the highest
since 2002, with a 9% increase to 60,337 UK registrations. Admittedly over a
third of sales were driven by the Scrappage Scheme but you still have to have
the right cars in your armoury to succeed.
Now Fiat is sharpening up its larger offering: what was the Grande Punto range
of three- and five-door 'supermini' sized hatchbacks is now the Punto Evo range.
Evo being, of course, short for evolution because the Grande Punto has now evolved
into the new model.
Prices range from £10,995 to £15,595 and currently there are 22 different versions
to choose from a huge number for the expected 12-13,000 UK sales expected
this year. Retail customers will make up nearly 100% of purchases and 60% of
customers will choose the three-door models; 90% will choose a petrol engine
and the age profile of customers is sub 35 years of age hence the slant
towards the sporty three-door body preference. The most user-friendly body option,
however, is the five-door variant easy for rear seat passengers to use
and the front doors are not as wide so they're easier to open in car parks.
The evolutionary move of the Punto Evo caters for today's customers who are
more demanding than ever. The 'supermini' hatchback range has been designed
to meet the requirement for smaller, more environmentally friendly cars that
are easier to park and more affordable to run, yet are still stylish, safe and
comfortable. These new models also offers new engines and a healthy dose of
technology along with features traditionally associated with larger cars.
The Punto Evo has a bold new look inside and out, cloaking a stronger structure
that makes it safer, better to drive and more welcoming for passengers. The
exterior looks sharper and less bland visually, it has more character.
The latest version incorporates many safety features to further enhance the
ownership experience, including knee airbags, double seatbelt pre-tensioners
and ESP with Hill Holder. There is a notable improvement with the quality of
the interior and a higher level of specification. However, the ride is just
as firm and ESP (Electronic Stability Programme) is not fitted as standard to
all models, although where it isn't part of the standard spec it can be added
as an extra cost option.
line with Fiat's philosophy of technology-for-all, every model in the range
is fitted with the firm's Blue&Me interface that allows drivers intuitive control
of all the car's major functions. And all models, except Active, can be specified
with the cutting edge Blue&Me TomTom system.
mean customers will also
pay low levels of road
tax just £35 in the
case of the new Punto
Evo MultiJet range...
means fingertip access to a touch-screen navigation system, mobile phone, trip
computer and MP3 player with steering wheel commands. It also includes Fiat's
helpful eco:Drive which helps owners lower their fuel consumption and exhaust
emissions. For the first time, eco:Drive is a fully integrated system in Punto
Evo, and customers can now receive real-time suggestions for more environmentally
But this car's introduction is most noteworthy because it heralds the launch
of two important new 'Ecotechnology' engine line-ups: the MultiAir petrol family
and MultiJet II diesels.
The Punto Evo's range of five engines all conform to Euro 5 emissions requirements
and are all fitted with Start&Stop technology as standard. But improved fuel
consumption isn't the only way in which Punto Evo owners will benefit from its
innovative engines. Low CO2 emissions mean customers will also pay low levels
of road tax just £35 in the case of the new Punto Evo MultiJet range.
Whichever engine customers choose, they'll have two different chassis philosophies
and five trim levels to deliberate over. All the GP and exclusively three-door
Sporting versions follow the Sport chassis philosophy with racy on-road behaviour
and more assertive looks. Three- or five-door Comfort versions come in either
Active, Dynamic or Eleganza trims with a more elegant look and feel to them.
My advice? Stick to the Comfort versions they are just that; more comfortable
with a much better ride quality although that's still on the firm side.
Even the entry level Active model features a generous amount of standard equipment
including front driver, passenger and driver's knee airbags, five standard-size
seats, two rear head restraints, front electric windows, height-and-reach adjustable
steering wheel, electric mirrors, and Blue&Me infotainment. Fiat is not clear
as yet, due to the market conditions, on which level of specification will be
most popular price, as always, is an important issue.
My probable choice would be Dynamic specification because it offers air conditioning
and split/folding rear seats as standard but still only with steel road wheels
although an alloy option is available. And that means 'splashing-the-cash' more
than necessary for the Eleganza variants which could, for some, be a step too
far. I really think the Punto Evo range offers too many models when you consider
the two body styles, the five levels of equipment and chassis setup and five
range starter is the 1.4-litre 77bhp petrol engine which, like every other engine
in the 22-strong range, now complies with Euro 5 exhaust emissions legislation.
This is likely to be the most popular engine if price is the main consideration.
The other petrol units feature Fiat Powertrain Technologies' new MultiAir expertise
a technological leap forward that is to be rolled out across the company's
entire fleet of models.
all this means in
the real world is that the
105bhp 1.4-litre MultiAir
unit in the new Punto
Evo emits just 134g/km
of carbon dioxide along
with 49.5mpg Combined
Cycle fuel economy...
briefly, the new MultiAir system constantly changes variable valve timing, valve
lift and the number of injections of fuel and air throughout the stroke of each
piston in each cylinder at all times throughout the entire RPM range. Fuel economy
is claimed to show a 10 % average improvement alongside an average 10% reduction
in CO2 emissions; a 10% power increase; and a 15% torque improvement. At the
same time, toxic emissions are dramatically reduced: 40% of HC/CO and 60% of
NOx in the engine warm-up phase.
What all this means in the real world is that the 105bhp 1.4-litre MultiAir
unit in the new Punto Evo emits just 134g/km of carbon dioxide along with 49.5mpg
Combined Cycle fuel economy my test drive fuel economy figure for this
engine was 40.9mpg yet offers lively performance and a 0-62mph acceleration
time of just 10.8 seconds. This unit offers most, I think, for most people.
It is smooth and feels more responsive than its 1.4-litre capacity would lead
you to expect and there's another reason to go for this engine it's the
only one to be used in conjunction with a six-speed gearbox.
Most impressive of all in sporty performance terms is the range-topping 135bhp
1.4-litre MultiAir Turbo, even though only around 5% of customers will go for
one. With almost 100bhp per litre at the driver's command, this delivers a petrol
engine benchmark for acceleration with a 0-62mph time of 8.5 seconds, yet it
also offers combined cycle fuel consumption of a remarkable 50.4mpg and a CO2
figure of just 129g/km. It would benefit form a six-speed gearbox to reduce
engine noise at motorway speeds but that aside it's a cracking unit for its
size with a real life fuel economy during my test drive of 38.7mpg.
Only 10% of Punto Evo customers are expected to go the diesel power route but
Fiat are famous for their MultiJet engines and the new model showcases the latest
improvements to the 1.3-litre unit. This is available with the choice of two
power outputs, 95 and 75bhp with fuel economy of 67.3 and 68.9mpg and CO2 emissions
of 110 and 108g/km respectively.
The main technical change to MultiJet is to the fuel/air supply it was
five injections per cycle, now it's eight. So, lean and mean but new torque
characteristics mean delivery can be 25% greater at low revs. My 95bhp test
car returned 47.4mpg.
So how does the new 1.4 16v MultiAir Evo rate? On the plus side there's lower
emissions, better fuel economy, higher level of specification for downsizing
customers, improved quality, great new responsive engine, six-speed gearbox
and improving service from dealers. Against? Firm ride, road noise intrusion,
front quarter blind spots from the wide A-pillars and no ESP as standard.
It's a tough market, especially in the 'supermini' segment, with rivals like
the Fiesta, Corsa and new Polo. However, with a much improved small car line-up,
dealers now being 'star rated' for performance and with sales on the increase,
Fiat looks to be on the way up and the Punto Evo should definitely help the
evolution of the brand. David Miles
Fiat Punto Evo Dynamic 1.4 16v MultiAir 5-door | £13,695
Maximum speed: 115mph | 0-62mph: 10.8 seconds | Overall test MPG: 40.9mpg
Power: 105bhp | Torque: 96lb ft | CO2 134g/km | Insurance group 11