DRIVEN: 2011 FIAT PUNTO

All the emerging economies of the world are the primary market for several of the biggest automotive manufacturers around the world. In India alone, if you look at the hot hatchback segment, you have the Fiat Punto, Toyota Etios, Honda Jazz, Suzuki Swift, Volkswagen Polo and Maruti A-Star to name a few. They are compact, not too powerful and yet have enough ooomph to zip through traffic.  We took a look at the 2012 Honda Jazz a little while ago. And now its our turn to see how the Italian beauty in the Fiat Punto fares against the competition.
Plus: Its looks. It is just beautiful to look at. That streamline almost teardrop like shell is a sight to behold. The Punto only comes with 90HP but you will definitely not be able to feel it. The pickup is instantaneous, it handles like its on rails, the brakes are great and the seats very supportive. The interior is well laid out and comfortable and the car can seat 4 adults comfortably. And since it is an Italian, it sounds fantastic as well especially as you enter the higher RPMs.

Minus: The handling on rails bit has a flip side. When the road gets bumpy, the car does get very unsettled. The short wheelbase is probably also a factor in this. And despite the brakes being very responsive, we heard from several owners that the brake pads wear out quite quickly and often. Not a good thing if you live in the city. Trunk size is also an issue (but that can be remedied by putting down the rear seats) and you will not be able to fit more than a couple of carry-ons.

Overall: For the price and the features you get, the Fiat Punto is a great buy… on paper. Though we did not experience any issues, several of the owners we spoke to mentioned how finicky the car can be. Interestingly enough this seems to be a common theme with other Italian car makes especially the Alfa Romeo. They have had random issues occur during the course of their ownership (wiper works intermittently, clutch issues and having to be replaced prematurely etc.). But they also said when all systems were a go, the Punto was a joy to drive and always brought a smile to their face. One thing though, if you are into cars, you have to own an Italian make at least once.


The Fiat Punto starts off at Rs. 5,10,000 ($10,200) and goes all the way up to Rs. 7,40,000 ($14,800) depending on the variant. The vehicle we tested was the 1.4L petrol version. Here is the entire price list.

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