Captain Misery's Miserable Mishaps

It's all a load of bollocks, quite frankly

Long Term Test: Fiat Punto

It all depends on what you look for in a car as to what purpose it will serve. To me, a car must have a bit of character, bit of soul. A personality. Call it what you will. I’m not a fan of cars that are sold as mere white goods-esque appliances which is why no matter how good they may be, I will never buy something like a Kia or Hyundai by choice. I want something more than just a device that propels you from A to B.

However, my current car is just that. An A to B get me to work and back tool. And that it is kind of what I need at the moment – something that was cheap to buy and run. But I didn’t want to go down the route of a Nissan, as I’ve had a Sunny and an Almera and they are literally the worst cars… in the world! There’s nothing redeeming about them. They are reasonable in everything they do. If they had human equivalents they’d be a chartered accountant called Arthur. So I bought something else.

So, as you may have read in my last post that I bought a boggo-spec, decade old Punto with 92,000 miles on the clock for a tidy sum (much, much less than a grand is all you need to know) as I wanted a runabout. Now friends and colleagues have all speculated that being an old Fiat it will break and implode very quickly. As of this moment (several months and a few thousand miles later) I’m still waiting for that to happen. I’m not superstitious but am touching wood! No, don’t twist it! I meant wood as in… Oh never mind!

Truth be told, it was far from my first choice of cars. I wanted something bigger and more substantial with a bigger engine. A Golf GTi was top of my list, but what I wanted my budget wouldn’t allow me to get a decent example. So after looking at a bunch of highly polished turds, we came across this not-very-polished-at-all turd. And drove it. And bought it.

It was with apprehension that we decided to take the Punto on our family Christmas holiday, but alas with problems with the Corsa being semi-crippled once again, there was no choice. It had a good engine service before going on the holiday, but I think I may have underestimated the car somewhat by filling the glovebox with screwdrivers, ratchets, spanners, cable ties and WD 40. It turns out that the Italian bambino transporter has come into its own and completely won me over. It undertook the journey from near the tail end of Cornwall up to the North East of England in its stride with no hiccups. It was used as the family taxi every day over the Christmas period ferrying the wife, bambino and bambino’s Great Nana, Grandma and Granddad around all around the North East.

Then over the New Year it was over to the North West of England. Cheshire to be precise. Then from there to a night stop over in Gloucester before heading across to Salisbury, with that being the last stop before travelling home. A total of just under 1400 miles and upon the journey home the odometer clicked over to 95,000 miles. And not once did it fail to start, leave us stranded, have anything fall off or need anything fixing. It didn’t use any oil or require any coolant. Am I sure this is a 10 year old Fiat?

It had all kinds of different types of road to contend with. Motorways, main roads, twisty country lanes with twisty cuntrymen driving in front of me, narrow tracks and it gobbled them all up. It averaged around the 48 mpg mark on the motorway and around 38-40 mpg for the rest. The steering feels pretty sharp for one of these and it turns in far better than my Stilo ever did. The gear change is nice and slick and it’s quite lively.

However there are downsides. It’s sparsely equipped. So sparse it doesn’t actually have ANY standard equipment, even the seats were optional. The doors were fitted later, and the dashboard has more blanks than an impotent pensioner. And only having 60 bhp to play with means it’s perplexed by hills. When fully laden with luggage for two adults, a baby and LOTS of Christmas stuff as well as aforementioned adults and baby, it’s quite a bit to ask of a car that has less power than an egg whisk.

So, it got confused by hills, but on the flat it was adequate and down hill, with a prevailing wind and a sail it was literally quicker at 63 mph than the BMW in the slower lane doing 58mph! 0-60 is best not measured as I’m pretty sure wind erosion is quicker. Our Corsa is quicker, but then the Punto has a fully functional reverse gear which the Corsa doesn’t.

To be fair though, this little old snotter of a banger did everything we wanted, and it really did endear itself to me. It got my family and I to where we wanted to go, eventually, and enabled us to have the perfect first Christmas with our son. It has plenty of foibles, but it does the job very well.

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January 12, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment


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