Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
|Production:||1993 — present|
|Body Styles:||3-door hatchback|
|Production:||1993 — 1999|
|Production:||1999 — 2003|
|Production:||2003 — 2005|
|This article is part of the Fiat automobile series.|
The Fiat Punto is a "supermini"-sized automobile, internally codenamed Project 178, announced in September 1993 and launched in 1994 as a replacement for the ageing Fiat Uno, but largely based on the Fiat Tipo for its first incarnation. The Punto was voted European Car of the Year for 1995.
At a time when rival companies like Ford and Vauxhall/Opel were producing dull looking superminis, the Fiat Punto was an instant hit with its Giorgetto Giugiaro design. Another reason for its popularity was the competitive pricing which made it a cheap alternative to a Volkswagen Polo or Ford Fiesta.
Entry-level in the Punto range were the 1.1 and 1.2 litre petrol engines and the 1.7 diesel. A more powerful 1.2 Sporting was also available, but the best performing version was the 1.4 GT Turbo. The Punto scored high on fuel economy but none of the range was much fun to drive. The closest thing to an enjoyable Punto was the cabriolet version—one of the cheapest open top cars in the world.
This was exactly what Fiat was thinking of when the Nuova (New) Punto, Project 188 or Mark 2, was launched in 1999. The chassis and interior were completely overhauled and the new Punto became the first Fiat in decades to carry the original round Fiat badge, to celebrate Fiat's centenary.
The 1.1 and 1.4 turbo engines were discontinued, and the entry-level models had only a 1.2 petrol unit (with either 8 or 16 valves) or a 1.9 diesel (with or without a turbo). The best performing version of the Mark 2 Punto was the 1.8 HGT which could reach almost 130mph.
In early 2003, Fiat celebrated the rollout of the 5,000,000th production Punto. In the same year, the Mark 2 revision B refresh brought further revisions to the platform to bring the Punto's appearance more upmarket, along with the introduction of the 1.3 litre common rail diesel MultiJet engine. The round Fiat badge, found only on the bonnet of Mark 2 models, was introduced on the tailgate of the Mark 2B.
Mark 3 (2005-)
A further refresh of the Punto — the Mark 3, codenamed Project 199 — is due in 2005. Again styled by Guigaro, the car is based on the Fiat/GM "Small" platform (a new version of GM Gamma platform). It was expected to debut at Spring's Geneva Auto Show but now it's scheduled to premiere at Autumn's International Motor Show, Frankfurt.
Several competition and homologated versions of the Punto have been produced, such as the Punto Rally, the S1600 and the Punto Abarth.
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