Newspaper article The Observer (Gladstone, Australia)

No Stallion.More Workhorse; Grant Edwards Finds a Compact European Which Doesn't Require a Hefty Budget

Newspaper article The Observer (Gladstone, Australia)

No Stallion.More Workhorse; Grant Edwards Finds a Compact European Which Doesn't Require a Hefty Budget

Article excerpt

POLITICALLY correct terminology calls them "price sensitive".

But I'm more your to-the-point kind of man. The Fiat Punto Pop appeals to tight-arses.

There is no need to mince words or dance around the fact that at 16 grand drive-away, this little Italian hatch sits in the bargain basement.

It remains a good looking little European which surprises some who automatically assume it comes with a higher price-tag.

Despite its sharp value, the Punto hasn't shared the same success as its retro-inspired sibling, the Fiat 500, which has been an instant success since being relaunched starting from $14,000. But the Punto at $16,000 with nothing more to pay is also worthy of a look, with more practical dimensions than its 500 stablemate.

Comfort

What the Punto Pop lacks in personality it makes up for in functionality.

There are a lot of plastics, across the dash, console and doors, which are not offensive but just lack some excitement. All the buttons are within easy reach and are basic to operate.

Graphics on the stereo and driver's instruments are simple and easy to ready although won't win any beauty contests.

The Blue&Me system to pair your phone can take some initial training but once hooked up and you learn the commands you'll never have to take your hands off the wheel to make a call.

For a car in the light segment, there is surprising space in the Punto. Four adults can be housed with generous head, leg and knee room, and we managed two kids in bulky car seats across the back bench seat without any dramas.

The driver has height and reach adjustable steering while the seats are comfy for longer journeys.

On the road

Across the range there is only one engine - a 1.4-litre petrol engine.

It produces a meagre 57 kilowatts at a high 6000rpm which means you really have to give it a rev to reap acceleration rewards.

Hilly terrain really tests the little hatchback and often requires the driver to drop back into second at 60kmh. Keep it above 3000rpm and the Punto will answer the call, but you do have to be patient on occasions.

Primarily designed for around-town driving, the Punto can still cope with the open road and will sit on 110km comfortably - although it could do with cruise control. …

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