Captain Misery's Miserable Mishaps

It's all a load of bollocks, quite frankly

Fiat Punto Evo

The Fiat Grande Punto - Pretty car!

Looking young and keeping that way has become a bit a Hollywood based obsession. Nips and tucks here to make sure your face stays forever fresh, especially for those in the public eye constantly. You often find though that certain people who have their nips and tucks here and there really don’t need it and there are times when it goes horribly wrong.

It’s not limited to people either. Car manufacturers seem to think that constantly fiddling with their range of cars is indeed a good idea. For example, Fiat have a great tradition for making brilliant small cars. Cheap to buy, cheap to run, stylish, fun to drive and peppy. Their latest, until recently, was the Grande Punto which was just about the most stylish small hatchback on the market. Imagine a neat and tidy hatchback design with essentially the front end of a Maserati 3200 GT professionally grafted on to the rest of it and you’re all the way there.

It was a fantastic looking car, but it did have its faults. It wasn’t overly reliable, the lower powered petrol engines had as much performance as a tortoise giving a block of flats a lift and some of the interior was a bit iffy in places. On the whole though, it was a pretty neat little machine to drive if you had the T-jet engine or the diesels. It was cheap to buy, rode well and cornered well. However normally on a basic Fiat you have lots of pep for not much pop. This was somewhat lacking in the breathless 1.2 and 1.4 8 valve engines which powered the basic models. But above all many of the faults didn’t matter that much because you could forgive the car for the way it looked.

The Punto Evo. Now with a front end modelled on Steven Tyler

Unfortunately though, the styling team at Fiat decided that four years into the Grande Punto’s lifespan, it should be facelifted. In fact it was modified so much that Fiat gave it a new name – Punto Evo. Evo, brilliant! Evo, as in evolution! Do you see what they did there? We would be promised that some of the foibles of the outgoing Grande Punto would be rectified. True, the new Multiair engines as I’d driven previously in the Alfa Mito are cracking engines. But the lifeless base-spec engines remained. The interior has been upgraded with much better materials and a new layout similar to the larger Bravo and the options of dedicated TomTom sat navs are appealing. As are the bluetooth connectivity, MP3 compatibility and class leading NCAP safety ratings.

What wasn’t quite as appealing is the cheap Fiat supermini had become quite pricy. Even bigger than that though is how Fiat have managed to create such a gargantuan disaster of the Grande Punto’s styling. Obviously either blind, or high on some recreational drugs of sorts, what the designers have clearly thought is “whata da Puntoa a needs isa fronta enda datta looka likea datta blokea froma Aerosmith”. So that’s exactly what they’ve got, a reasonable looking family car with Steven Tyler’s pout glued to the front bumper. Fucking genius.

To say that I don’t like the styling of the Punto Evo is akin to saying I don’t like having my head smashed in with a potato peeler. Which is a shame, as underneath that grotesquely botoxed front end is a decent car trying to get out. I only drove the Punto Evo a short distance, which was enough to warrant not going any further in it. It drives no differently to a Grande Punto unless you drive those models powered by the excellent Multiair engines. I really cannot see the reasoning for changing a great looking and successful car. I also think Fiat are beginning to wonder as well, because Punto Evo hasn’t been anywhere as successful as Grande Punto. The only upshot of the Evo is the interior and the reasons for that are twofold. Firstly, it’s a nice place to be and far better than the Grande Punto. Secondly, whilst you are inside the car you don’t have to look at a front end of a car that is so horrifying it could scare young children.

Would I buy one? No, not if I had the choice to.

Best model to go for: Punto Evo Multiair Sporting (then crash it into a wall then make sure your bodyshop replaces all the front end with Grande Punto panels instead)


July 27, 2011 - Posted by | Motoring

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