Yet again it’s the little cars that Fiat falls back on when the going gets tough. The Grande Punto, and new Panda, joins the Topolino, Nuova 500, 128, 127, Uno, Punto and other great little Fiats which have revived the struggling car maker.
All left-hand drive Grande Puntos have a metal plate in the steering column which was designed to spread the load of a knee impact in serious front-end collisions. Right-hand drive cars built since the beginning of July 2006 have this too, but those built up until the end of June didn't.
It seems Kiwi’s prefer Punto Grandes with compression ignition engines. I’d say the odds were skewed by the current model range offering 3 diesel and only one petrol engine but perhaps petrol prices, up to $1.70/l but now only $1:50/l, have changed some attitudes. David Linklater finds the Punto 1.3 JTD isn’t perfect but offers “an equal-parts blend of cheap, cheerful and just plain cool supermini motoring”.
Who needs diesel-powered small cars? Fiat buyers, apparently. While compression-ignition superminis have bee something of a showroom liability in the past, around three-quarters of New Zealand's Punto buyers are now opting for the turbo-diesel JTD versions...