From 1993 to 2018, the Punto was Fiat’s B-segment (subcompact) hatchback. It competed against cars like the Volkswagen Polo, Ford Fiesta, Opel Corsa and Renault Clio. The third and last generation, introduced in 2005 and riding on the then new GM Fiat Small Platform, was initially marketed as the Grande Punto.
An updated Grande Punto was renamed Punto Evo in 2009. And from 2012 to 2018 things were finally back to normal. Punto.
Now to this utterly-black (me like!) beastie. One can say that Abarth was born again on February 1, 2007. The Abarth & C. S.p.a. company became an independent unit, fully controlled by Mothership Fiat’s car division. Their first product was the 2007 Abarth Grande Punto.
This series of Abarths was powered by Fiat’s turbocharged 1.4 liter 16v T-Jet engine with a maximum power output of 155 DIN-hp @ 5,500 rpm. If you wanted more power from this engine you could opt for the Abarth Esseesse performance kit (179 DIN-hp @ 5,750 rpm, among other things). Esseesse as in SS, Super Sport.
The Fiat Grande Punto, with its attractive Maserati snout, was a commercial success. In the first quarter of 2006, it was the best selling car of western Europe.
From the 2009 Abarth Grande Punto to its successor, a 2012 Abarth Punto Evo. Now with the turbocharged 1.4 liter 16v MultiAir engine under its hood, good for 163 DIN-hp @ 5,500 rpm.
That’s more than adequate for a subcompact hatchback with a curb weight of 1,160 kg (2,557 lbs). The top speed of these Abarths is around 210 km/h (130 mph).
Inside an Abarth Punto Evo.
Building sublime and desirable small cars has always been Fiat’s expertise. These days, mainly by offering around 500 variatons on the 500 theme, Abarths included.
Horrible cars. I remember working at Avis when they were new and there was a recall because the rear doors on the five door models were pressed a bit skewed, so you had to push the door in place to make it shut. And it could not easily be opened from the inside.
A newly designed car with doors that don’t open or close properly. How? If it had the endearing qualities of the sportier Italian offering or even my old Fiat 127 then sure I could grudgingly live with it. But this was just one of the worst cars in its segment.
It looked good though.
Odd how Fiat let the Punto rot, from 500,000 sales 20 years ago to less than a tenth that number in 17, and it’s discontinuation last year.
I find the Tipo quite handsome, but, last year, Marchionne said they will not put any more money into it. He said that, while not specifying a date, a tightening in EU emissions regs will see the Tipo withdrawn from Europe to be a third world only product. I wonder if they would still build it in Turkey, or ship the tooling to Brazil, where it would be a step up from the Argo and Cronos? It appears Chile does not have barriers to imported cars as the Tipo is offered there, but not in Brazil or Argentina, so Fiat has a test market for it’s appeal in South America.
I’m starting to wonder about the future of the 500 itself, with Fiat’s announcement that it’s successor will be a BEV only, with the old engine driven 500 continuing for those who want an engine. The existing 500 is getting a bit long in the tooth for a car that is bought as a fashion accessory. In February, Panda sales were up 19%, while 500 sales were down 24%.
I quite liked the 500X I looked at at the Detroit show last winter, but the 500X has the Jeep Compass breathing down it’s neck. 7910 (-9.6%) for the 500X in February vs 7400 (+29.5%) for the Compass. With the plan to start Compass assembly at Melfi by the end of this year the 500X could be outsold next year, especially if the 3 row derivative of the Compass is also introduced in Europe.
The 500L, while leading it’s segment, is also in a dying segment as people shift from MPVs to SUVs. 3.833 (-33%) in February.
Auto journos in the US have been wondering about a company named Fiat-Chrysler where both of the titular names die out, while the company continues, stronger than ever.
Noticed something unfortunate at the Detroit show. Each car at the FCA stand had a placard in the rear license plate bracket. Each brand had a different saying on the plates for it’s models.
This was the plate all the Fiats had. I realize the word can also be used as a greeting, but seems I have usually heard it used in parting.
Agree with you on your analysis on FIAT franchise in USA.
Everyone who wants a 500 has one (or on their second unit). With gas at $2.50 gallon, there’s no incentive to own a 33 MPG city car. Also, the initial dealer introduction ($1M studios) failed and now any CJDR outlet can sell the car.
Wish they had introduced the Panda (quirky) instead of the 500L (ugly) to USA. The 500L may sell well in Europe, but was a dud in NA upon arrival.
The 500X is ok, but too late to arrive to the CUV party.
The 124 Spider is a knock off of a Miata. Not enough of a halo effect.
FCA needs the above to maintain its CAFE quota. Once EV’s arrive in numbers, I believe the FIAT franchise in North America will disappear.
… the initial dealer introduction ($1M studios) failed and now any CJDR outlet can sell the car.
I have had the suspicion that, in demanding the separate studios, Marchionne was looking down the road to introducing the higher priced, higher margin, Alfas into those studios, and Fiat was only a stand in. The relaxation of Fiat dealership requirements was followed, in a few months. with US availability of the Giulia.
2016 appears to have been FCA’s last attempt at making a go of Fiat in the US. As you said, they dropped the requirement for the studios. They also changed the paperwork to make it much easier and less costly for an existing CDJR dealer to pick up Fiat. iirc, in 16 there were about 200 Fiat dealers. An article published a couple weeks ago mentioned there are now 377 dealers. In late 16, they also cut the price of the 500 aggressively, on the order of $2,000, for the 2017 models.
In 18, it seems FCA threw in the towel on Fiat. While they added the turbocharger to all 500s, they also bumped the price back up by about $1500, and increased the shipping charge. Seems like FCA decided they were going to make more gross margin per car, and they don’t care what happens to volume.
The 500L does lead it’s category in Europe and it was available before the 500X. Why they persist with the 500L in the US now escapes me.
I would love to see more mainstream product brought to the Fiat brand in the US. FCA has a three row stretched Compass in development. It will be sold in South America as a Fiat, and as a Jeep everywhere else in the world. If it was sold as a Fiat here, the brand would have a second offering in a segment seeing robust demand, and would dispel the air of death hanging over the brand that is suppressing sales.. I’m afraid the reality is, if they put a Jeep badge on it, it will sell 10 times the number it would as a Fiat, so no new product for Fiat.
In 2017, the Punto Evo had the ignominy of being the first car in the history of the Euro NCAP test to get a zero star safety rating. I know the design was old by then, but can you imagine crashing in one, especially one of the sportier and faster ones in the article above?
NCAP tests are as reliable as your average EU parlement member : NOT.
This car got zero points because it lacks modern electronic aids like intelligent cruise control and automatic pedestrian recognition.
This car had a 5 star rating ten years ago and it is a car.
It has good brakes and a more then decent roadholding , even by today’s standards!
Yup, exactly this!
It’s really not like you’re suddenly driving around in a death trap when you buy a Punto.
And kudo’s for your analogy with the EU-parliament! Couldn’t have said it better myself.
Yes, ten years ago it was good. Things have changed and zero stars mean it’s worse than most every other new car. That’s relatively bad.
Compared to old cars it may be good but things do change over ten years – except, apparently, with Fiat.
Rammstein, you drive the modern version of these cars, IIRC. As in a 170 hp Alfa Romeo MiTo ?? Pictures please!
The way they measure now, gives most older cars a 0 star rating. So, yes. No.
Mass Jensen’s comment above on the build quality gives me pause, but as an American I have to wonder why we got the 500 rather than the Punto (or some ‘merkicanized variant). I have always viewed the 500 as too small for the market here; it seems an urban niche car to me. The Punto seems to be a bit larger. Yes, I understand that the vehicle is obsolete now, but it wasn’t 10 years ago when the 500 was being introduced here. I wonder what the logic was, if the words “logic” and “Italian car company” can be used in the same sentence.
As a side note I am fascinated by Europe’s headlong government-mandated plunge into electric cars while moving away from nuclear-generated electricity at the same time.
I bought the NA version of the 500 Abarth in May of 2012. I enjoy this car, as it still does what it was supposed to do when I bought it: put a smile on my face. A little over 46K of grin-producing, absolutely trouble-free miles. I’ll also be buying a 124 Spider Abarth before year’s end.
Nice, enjoy your Abarth duo!
The evo restyle was quite probably the worst in FIAT’s history. From a mini Maserati to a FIAT 500 caricature.
As I (maybe too) often say here, I’ve been loving the Fiat 500e I’ve been driving daily the last 2+ years. It’s got lots of punch, and corners great, plus it’s got a very nicely trimmed interior, premium stereo and easy to use infotainment.
I am debating whether to keep it when the lease is up next year. I sure do love the car, but I’m not 100% sure Fiat EV service will still be there. I’ve had no need for service since they fixed a brake fluid leak when new, but all the same I need to know there’s somebody I can take it to if anything crops up.
The Portland dealer has put the Alfa brand foremost and has only Alfas in the showroom, though there are plenty of new and used Fiats on the lot. I see quite a few 500s around town, it’s pretty popular here in Portlandia.
Remember that the 500 hit as the retro craze was still in full effect. The Mini came out at about the same time, and it is still soldiering on.
I just wish Fiat had gone all in when it came back to the North American market. Yes, all of their line was long in the tooth, but brand new in this market! More product would have given more choices for shoppers, not just the 500. The 500L was an MPV that was bound to fail in this market, ask Mazda about their MPV and how well it sold. The 500X is a good competitor to the Renegade as they are mechanical twins, but FCA knows where their bread is buttered and moves more Jeeps at a higher margin, so guess who gets ignored. It does seem that the only thing Fiat will do is offer the Jeep/Chrysler/Dodge/Ram franchises a small car to offer. That may be enough to keep it alive over here.
I remember when Sergio announced that Fiat would be coming back to the US. I thought: Great! A challenge to the hegemony of the UAC (universal asian car). I’d hoped that the Punto and Panda would have made it over here, but all we got was the 500 and several variants. Don’t get me wrong, I like the 500, but I think aping Mini’s marketing was a really bad idea. Basing the whole line up on the 500 and riffs off of the 500 is just weak sauce.
In the long run, I guess it didn’t matter. SUV/CUV uber alles and I have a suspicion that fun, relatively inexpensive hatchbacks are a endangered species. We’ve batted the idea around a few times, but it’s never taken place. My current cars are still holding up well and with us wondering what we’ll do about our retirement, I no longer am in a hurry to get another set of car payments.
Hey this is my car (the Black abarth Punto) during a car show at classic park Boxtel. Those are some nice picture
Is there any chance to share them?