Abarth Punto Evo hatchback (2010-2013)
"The Abarth Punto Evo is a rare sight on UK roads - which is a shame, as it's a cool sporty hatchback"
- Sporty styling
- Everyday usability
- Cheaper than rivals
- Not as fast as some rivals
- Firm suspension at low speeds
- Cheap interior plastics
The Abarth Punto Evo is based on the Fiat Punto Evo supermini which ran from 2010 to 2013, but adds a sporty bodykit, larger wheels, bigger brakes, lower suspension and a 1.4-litre MultiAir turbo petrol engine producing 163bhp. On the inside, there are figure-hugging sports seats with leather trim and coloured stitching, and the dashboard houses a range of Abarth gauges. On the open road, the Abarth is quick and corners well. Rev the engine past 3,000rpm, and the Punto Evo feels quicker than its performance figures suggest. Abarth adds a switch to the dashboard that changes throttle response and suspension settings, but in both Sport and Normal driving modes the ride is quite firm, especially at slow speeds. Some of the cabin materials feel cheap at this price, too. Nevertheless, the Abarth Punto is well equipped and the cabin retains all of the normal three-door Punto's practicality and interior space.
The Abarth Punto was not replaced when the next Punto was launched in 2013.
MPG, running costs & CO2
With economy of 47.1mpg, the Punto Evo is surprisingly economical for a sporty hatchback, and is helped by the standard-fit stop-start system, which cuts the engine when you stop and put the car into neutral. The 1.4-litre turbo engine helps keep emissions respectable - the car costs £130 a year for road tax. As it sells in such small numbers, the Abarth Punto Evo should hold its value well come resale time.
Engines, drive & performance
The Abarth offers two driving modes, Normal and Sport, which are adjustable via a switch on the dashboard. In Sport mode the Abarth is great fun - the engine produces more power at low revs and the steering becomes heavier. This makes the car better at overtaking and improves steering feedback in corners. Normal mode in comparison makes the car feel a little lifeless, the biggest problem being the car's slow reactions when you press the accelerator. Overall the Abarth is quick to impress, with plenty of grip and a clever traction control system.
Interior & comfort
Like many small sporty hatchbacks, the suspension is firm, but it's not as harsh as in the Renaultsport Clio 200. You really notice it at slower speeds and around town, but the suspension is better once you're on the open road or motorway. As a result, the Abarth Punto is easily capable of being used everyday and over long distances. The front seats are comfortable, but they're quite narrow and wrap around you, so can be tight for larger passengers. They're also mounted quite high, which feels at odds with the Punto's sporty character.
Practicality & boot space
As it's based on the three-door Fiat Punto Evo, the Abarth has a 275-litre boot that can be extended to 1,030 litres with the split-folding rear seats laid flat. Head and legroom are impressive for a hot hatchback, although there's not quite as much legroom as the standard Punto because the front sports seats take up more space. Plus there's only two seatbelts in the back, so the Abarth is strictly a four-seater. As the Punto Evo only comes as a three door, getting to the back seats can be tricky, too.
Reliability & safety
The Punto Evo hasn't been crash tested by Euro NCAP, but this car is a development of the Fiat Grande Punto, which had a five-star test rating. Seven airbags come as standard, as do safety features such as electronic stability control and electronic brake force distribution. Inside, there are plenty of special Abarth touches, but the cabin still retains much of the Fiat's cheaper dashboard and trim, which is quite disappointing. Fiat has a poor reputation for reliability, but the Abarth models are hand-finished, so quality is a step above the standard Punto range.
Price, value for money & options
Priced at around £17,000, the Abarth Punto is good value for money compared to its rivals from Renault and Volkswagen, and the Abarth badges add a touch of exclusivity - but it's not as fast or good to drive. The Punto is stiff, but it's more comfortable than the Renaultsport Clio 200, so it's a more usable, everyday vehicle. Buyers looking to customise their cars are also well catered for, with a variety of optional wheels and sticker sets offered. The Esseesse package features several performance enhancing add-ons, plus larger wheels and lower suspension. The standard Punto Evo comes with air-conditioning, cruise control, stop/start, Brembo brakes and a hill-hold system, which stops you rolling backwards on slopes.