Evo 1.4 MultiAir Sporting
new Punto Evo has been
described as a breakout
Not as in out of prison;
more as in
breaking out of old habits. As such
a wake-up call to drivers of other
supermini brands, reminding them
special talent of producing
great small cars...
EVO IS AN APT NAME because the Punto Evo is all about evolving
from the popular Grande Punto. New-look body aside, where the real evolution
has gone on is under the bonnet. And its name is 'MultiAir'.
As the world's oil reserves slowly but surely dry up, the challenge for all
car manufacturers is to make every drop of fuel that goes into a tank go as
far as possible.
And this is precisely what MultiAir does: it's complicated
essentially it's a new take on variable valve timing technology. But in the
same way that a driver doesn't need to understand how a double-clutch gearbox
or a 4WD differential works to be able to drive a car fitted with them, neither
do you need to know MultiAir's technical ins and outs.
With a nod to JFK, it's a case of Ask not what MultiAir is, but what MultiAir
can do for you. And that's easy: in the case of the turboed 1,368cc MultiAir
petrol-engine powering the Evo Sporting, for the same cubic capacity MultiAir
gives superior performance (+10% bhp and +15% torque) and cleaner emissions
specifically you get 135bhp (almost 100bhp per litre), 152lb ft of torque, zero
to 62mph in 8.5 seconds, a top speed of 127mph, 129g/km of CO2, and a combined
cycle 50.4mpg (61.4 extra urban; 38.7mpg urban). Our week's average worked out
to 37.5mpg but that was with a large amount of stop-start town driving as well
as some heavy-duty load-lugging during a house move.
Ask not what MultiAir is,
but what MultiAir
can do for you.
And thats easy: while MultiAir is giving
you higher levels of
performance, more miles
to the gallon and
reducing your road tax
bill, youre also getting
bags of torque
from low down the rev
range and a crisp throttle
response to make good
use of it...
An impressive set of numbers and made even better by how they
translate into the on-road driving experience. While MultiAir is giving you
higher levels of performance, more miles to the gallon and reducing your road
tax bill, you're also getting bags of torque from low down the rev range and
a crisp throttle response to make good use of it.
This particular MultiAir engine is only available in the top petrol-spec Sporting
model costing £14,500. For the record, there are currently 24 Evo versions with
five trim lines (three 'Comfort' and two 'Sport') plus an extensive options
list that includes personalisation choices ranging from wheels and decals to
individual door mirror 'skins' and key covers. Prices kick off at £10,400 and
run all the way up to £15,700 for the 120bhp 1.6 MultiJet (diesel) Sporting.
The 135bhp MultiAir can't be had with five doors but that's good news because
it's even more striking as a three-door glammed up with some tasteful side skirts,
rear spoiler and burnished 17-inch alloy wheels. Boosting its street cred further
is a low, purposful stance, wraparound body-coloured bumpers, chrome 'skins'
for the door mirrors, hexagonal mesh grille, dark tinted headlights with LED
daytime running lights, privacy glass, distinctive 'L'-shaped rear lights and
red brake callipers. The crowning touch on our test car was the sizzling metallic
Acid Jazz Blue paint job.
Swing open the door and you'll find an equally appealing and spacious cockpit
with smart and inviting sports-style seats upholstered in a mix of different
textured fabrics with supportive bolstering. Settle back and the build quality
is immediately obvious cabin plastics and trim all feel good to
the touch and there's an unmistakable dash of Italian panache about the fascia
and the detailing.
The central air vents, sound system and climate control controls are logically
sited, each in their own 'corral' and the sound system's LCD display
looks extra smart with its classy piano black panel surround. No complaints
about the switchgear ergonomics: everything is logically sited and easy to reach.
And lots of in-cabin storage and oddments space there's even a
proper coin box.
driver is rewarded with a decent driving position and the leather-wrapped multifunction
steering wheel is good to hold and offers a wide range of both height and reach
to that wide-view door mirrors, a nicely padded handbrake grip and a 'gear shift'
reminder that treats you as an adult: it lights up to remind you to change gear
but doesn't stay on if you don't. The rev-counter and speedo, both with large
red graphics, each occupy their own nacelles and are easy to take in at a glance.
includes Lane Change
indicating to change
lanes, the appropriate fog
light flashes once at the
same time as the first
indicator blink to make
the car even more visible
to other traffic), and
Foglights that switch on
illuminate the apexes of
bends when negotiating
low speed corners...
Sporting trim equipment includes seven airbags (driver and passenger, side and
window, and driver's knee), Sports seats, electric front windows (both one-shot
auto down; the driver gets one-shot auto up as well), AirCon, cruise control,
Blue&Me (Bluetooth hands-free mobile phone operation via the steering wheel
controls and voice commands), rain sensitive wipers, parking sensors, Start&Stop,
electrically-adjustable heated door mirrors, 17-inch alloy wheels, multifunction
leather-trimmed wheel, Dualdrive electric power steering, radio with CD and
MP3 player, USB port and ambient cabin lighting.
Naturally you also get ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and
an Electronic Stability Program (ESP) with Hill Holder to assist with starting
off on a slope.
Also standard are Lane Change Warning (when indicating to change lanes, the
appropriate fog light flashes once at the same time as the first indicator 'blink'
to make the car even more visible to other traffic), Adaptive Cornering Foglights
(these switch on automatically, left or right, to illuminate the apexes of bends
when negotiating low speed corners), and ecoDrive (downloads driving data to
a memory stick for your computer to analyse and tell you how to save fuel and
All models (except the entry-level Active) can also be specified with the cutting-edge
Blue&Me TomTom system which fits in a specially designed 'dock' at the top of
the dashboard and gives fingertip access to a fully portable touchscreen to
manage navigation, mobile 'phone, trip computer and MP3 player.
Despite only having one door each side, you can get passengers in the back without
any trouble thanks to easy-acting tilt-and-slide front seats. Once there, they'll
enjoy a good view out of the airy cabin; and it's roomy and cosy enough for
two adults to make long journeys in the back not just the occasional
While there are three sets of seatbelts, there are only two headrests (if you
need it, the third is an extra £50). When not in use, these drop down tight
over the rear backrest to maximise the driver's rearward visibility.
the 60:40 split/fold back seats is a respectable-sized boot (275 litres) that
expands easily to 1,030 litres although you do end up with a stepped loadbay
floor the good news is that both sections are flat. The loading
sill/rear bumper is at thigh height so there's a drop to the boot floor of about
eight inches. Side bags are thoughtfully provided in the regular-shaped boot
and should you ever get a flat tyre you'll find a repair kit and pump under
button you might want to push from time to time is the one that disengages the
Start&Stop. One day soon we won't be allowed to turn these fuel-saving systems
off, but there are times when the engine shutting down instead of idling every
time you stop can be mildly irksome.
Making it all worthwhile
is the eager and
punchy MultiAir engine:
its the star in a reasonably priced car.
Turbo response is there
the moment you floor
the pedal and on the boil
pretty damn good.
The six-speed manual
box nicely complements
the engines go-for-it
character the action is
slick, and baulk-free
block changes can be
the record, when this happens the music doesn't stop playing, the wipers keep
wiping and the air-conditioning carries on cooling you; the only thing that
stops is the engine. And, of course, the fuel consumption.
That said, the Evo's Stop&Start works fine, stopping cleanly whenever you pull
up, move the gear lever into neutral and let up the clutch. The instant you
press down the clutch pedal preparatory to moving off, the Stop&Start restarts
On the fascia there's another small button that switches the electric power
steering to 'city' mode. Don't press it unless you want a very light helm.
Actually, it's not that bad but really only needed when parking in a tight spot
when you need to do a lot of wheel-twirling to get in. The 'feel' of the electrically-powered
steering in the standard setting is pleasantly light; it's accurate and turns
the Evo sharply enough to ensure that you can thread it through fast bends without
losing the plot.
Sporting spec versions have a more sporting suspension with firmer settings
and, if you'll pardon the pun, you can punt this Punto pretty hard without regrets
and with only minimal body lean it doesn't spoil your fun or your
chosen line. Pushed, it's light and tidy and easy to place on the road.
Making it all worthwhile is the eager and punchy MultiAir engine
it's the star in a reasonably priced car. Turbo response is there the moment
you floor the pedal (it feels as though there's a willing 2.0-litre lump under
the bonnet) and on the boil it all sounds pretty good. The six-speed manual
'box nicely complements the engine's go-for-it character the action
is slick, and baulk-free block changes can be executed smoothly.
Driven in a less urgent manner, the Evo Sporting's suspension proves to be supple
enough to ease away bumps and deliver a comfortable ride. At cruising speeds
on the motorway it's quiet and refined in the cabin and the miles roll by almost
We Brits love our small cars, which gives the Punto Evo an immediate advantage.
It also drives well and won't cost much to run; and that helps too. But there's
strong competition in the shape of the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo.
Ultimately that choice will, for most buyers, come down to how it looks. Don't
tut we all make decisions based on how something or somebody looks;
it's a mainstay of our own human EVOlution. In which case, I guess we'll be
seeing a lot of Punto Evos on the roads! MotorBar
Fiat Punto Evo 1.4 MultiAir Sporting | £14,500
Maximum speed: 127mph | 0-62mph: 8.5 seconds | Overall Test MPG:
Power: 135bhp | Torque: 152lb ft | CO2 129g/km