As far as underrated cars go, Fiat’s Punto Evo is at the top of the charts. Personally, I’ve always had a soft spot for the car. While crash worthiness of hatchbacks in the Indian market is a hazy area, the Punto we have here has an identical kerb weight to its European counterpart – which has a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating for adult occupant protection as per tests conducted in 2005. Other safety features include dual front airbags, ABS with EBD, and seat belts with pre-tensioners.
However, while that’s all well and good, the fact that this car is over a decade old in design means that there are a few issues – albeit minor ones. While build quality and fit-and-finish is decent for a car in its segment, the fact that there isn’t a single cup or bottle holder in the cabin is a bit odd. There’s just one cubby hole in the centre console, which my phone barely fits into. While I now store bottles in the seat back pockets, I would definitely prefer to have a cup holder.
Nevertheless, the Punto has always been a looker – and ten years on, the car still looks very appealing. Sure, I may not love the ‘Glitterati Gold’ shade of this particular car, but spot one in ‘Hip Hop Black’ and it’s bound to be a weak moment. No two ways about it, this is still a very good looking car and its Italian design ensures that it stands out.
What I also like about this car is that it’s the Sport version of the Punto Evo, powered by the higher spec 90bhp version of the company’s renowned 1.3 litre, MultiJet turbo diesel engine. Initial response from the engine is very good, and the clutch is light for a diesel too. That said, since the 209Nm of peak torque kicks in at 2,000rpm, you do have to keep the motor on the boil to extract the performance available. And to do this you will have to work that notchy five-speed manual gearbox.
Sadly, I haven’t been able to drive the Punto as much as I would have liked to, but a real world efficiency figure of 15.1 km/l in heavy traffic conditions is something that I’m pretty happy about.