1 Jul 2006
AFTER 15 years, Fiat returned to the passenger-car market in Australia with the all-new Punto range.
The Italian-made front-wheel drive hatchback straddles the premium-light and small-car segments in both price and size.
Australia is party to a three-pronged Punto punt – Dynamic and Emotion five-door and the Sport three-door.
All include anti-lock brakes, six airbags, air-conditioning, cruise control, power windows, electric and heated mirrors, remote central locking and a trip computer.
Diesel engines dominate, with a 1.3-litre and two 1.9-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesels expecting to account for at least half of all Punto sales.
The base model is the Dynamic, powered by a 1.4-litre single overhead cam eight-valve four-cylinder Euro IV emissions-compliant petrol engine offering 57kW of power at 6000rpm and 115Nm of torque at 3000rpm.
From 2007, a 70kW 1.4-litre 16-valve petrol engine arrives, with a 1.4-litre or 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol ‘Sporting’ version also joining the range.
Of the three Euro IV JTD Multi-jet common-rail direct-injection turbo-diesels, only the smallest sports twin cams and 16 valves.
The 1.3-litre turbo-diesel produces 66kW at 4000rpm and 200Nm at 1750rpm.
Both 1.9-litre turbo-diesel units deliver 280Nm at 2000rpm, but the ‘luxury’ Emotion model has 88kW at 4000rpm, while the Sport ups that to 96kW at 4000rpm.
Initially only manual gearboxes were available – a five-speeder in the petrol Punto and six-speeders for all diesels.
From October 2006 a variation of Alfa Romeo’s Selespeed sequential-shift clutchless five-speed manual transmission dubbed Dualogic was introduced.
The Punto is a light-car crash-test leader, scoring five stars in the Euro NCAP results.
Offering Australians a tantalising glimpse of what the European Barina might have been if Holden elected it over the Korean Daewoo version see instead see, the Punto has a fraternal twin in the Opel Corsa.
With around five million kilometres of prototype testing, both companies injected significant engineering input.
Dimensionally the Punto is as large as some small cars, with its 2510mm wheelbase coming within 1mm of the previous-generation Volkswagen Golf’s, and it is 52mm taller at 1490mm. The Fiat is only 48mm narrower at 1687mm and 119mm shorter overall at 4030mm.
It also shares a similar suspension set-up to this VW MacPherson struts and an anti-roll bar up front and a torsion beam rear-end. The Sport adds firmer springs and a rear anti-roll bar.
For 2007 FIAT Australia is offering 15-inch alloy wheels and an iPod 2GB Nano and iPod interface as standard items during April on the Punto 1.4 petrol and 1.3 JTD model variants.
Pricing starts from $19,990 for the 1.4 and $22,990 for the 1.3 JTD.
In January 2008 FIAT has added a new three-door Fiat Punto Sport Turbo petrol model to its Punto range in Australia, priced below the equivalent turbodiesel Sport model and offering even better performance. Priced at $25,990 with a standard five-speed manual gearbox.
With a light-pressure Garrett turbocharger applied to the base 1.4-litre Punto engine, the Sport Turbo model develops 88kW of power at 5000rpm (up from the non-turbo’s 57kW) and 206Nm of torque at a high 5000rpm (versus 115Nm), but Fiat says that 200Nm is available from just 1700rpm. With a combined fuel consumption figure of 6.6L/100km.
Apart from the different engine and gearbox, specifications are the same as for the diesel Sport model, meaning the Turbo Sport comes with sports suspension, ABS brakes, electronic stability control, hill-hold function, remote central locking with remote boot release, follow-me-home lights, 17-inch alloy wheels, body colour spoilers and side skirts and a chrome exhaust.
Inside there are sports seats trimmed with sports upholstery, sports instrument panel, a leather trimmed steering wheel and gear knob, electric windows and mirrors, cruise control and air conditioning.