Fleet News

Fiat Punto 1.3 Multijet Dynamic - 3,706 miles



FIAT'S recent financial problems have been well documented, so the news that the Panda has won the European Car of the Year 2004 title must give the company a welcome lift.

But the latest version of the Punto is something I'm having trouble appreciating. The previous version was a step forward for the supermini sector and the 1.9 JTD in particular, with 80bhp, was probably the best all-rounder in the range, combining strong performance with excellent fuel economy.

The Punto was revised in the summer, and while the 1.9 JTD lives on, there is a new and more economical diesel in the form of the 1.3 Multijet.

I'm not a fan of the latest Punto's appearance – the distinctive nose of the previous incarnation has been lost in a generic Euro-supermini front end. But its 1.3-litre Multijet common rail diesel pumps out 70bhp from its meagre 1,242cc and is surprisingly feisty, up to a point.

However, Fiat's policy of offering a six-speed transmission with its 16-valve 1.2-litre petrol engine is not continued to the diesel. With nearly 3,000rpm on the rev counter at 70mph, the Punto would really benefit from a six-speed transmission and the benefits would be two-fold.

It would reduce the noise levels on the motorway and would improve on the already impressive fuel consumption.

This engine is already Euro IV-compliant and company car drivers choosing it would not be subject to the 3% benefit-in-kind tax supplement imposed on diesels. However, the petrol Punto offers low tax liability and the 16-valve version costs less than the Multijet.

So our Punto is a mixed bag of promising features that with a bit of effort, and maybe more cash than was available, could have challenged the best in the class.

Company car tax bill 2003/04 (22% tax-payer): £28 per month

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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