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When the Punto was little
it wanted to become a
Grande Punto

The new Fiat Grande Punto, successor of the Punto, Uno and 127.

AutoPressNews,
24th September 2005.

It didn't take Fiat too long to find a new industrial partner.

Just a few months after the end of its financial alliance with General Motors (from July 2000 to February 2005), the Italian car maker has just agreed a manufacturing contract with the other US automotive group, Ford Motor Company, to develop a common platform (on a shortened Panda platform, according to Automotive News, 9/9/2005) for the new generation Fiat 500 and Ford Ka, to be launched respectively by end 2007 and early 2008.

Grande Punto in 5-doors body.

Before that, Fiat has just launched its other important weapon, with great hope to reduce its debts: the new generation Fiat Punto, or the Grande Punto as Fiat puts it this time to underline the significant size growth between the two Punto generations.

Although the Italian brand has launched another new model recently, the Croma, the fact remains that its core market, like many other European automakers, lies between the lower medium (C-segment, which includes the Fiat Stilo, Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus, Renault Mégane and others) and the small category which includes the B-Segment (supermini, like the Punto, Ford Fiesta, Renault Clio, VW Polo...) and the smaller minicars (like the Fiat Panda, 600, Ford Ka, the PSA/Toyota common project trio: Peugeot 107, Citroen C1 and Toyota Aygo, the Renault Twingo...).

According to figures published by the European carmakers association, ACEA (Association des Constructeurs Européens d'Automobile), and based on AAA (Association Auxiliaire de l'Automobile) statistics, each of the lower medium and the small segments had over one third of last year's total European passenger car market (total of 14,516 million passenger cars sold in the EU-15*): 33.4% for the small-car category (B-segment and minicars), and 33.7% for the lower-medium, or C-segment.

Several choices and options for interior trim, colours and equipment.

Comparatively, and according to the same sources, Croma's upper-medium category, or the D-segment, represented last year a market share of 12.9%.

Significantly enough, Automotive News (20/9/2005) and AutoWeek editors voted the Grande Punto the "Most Significant" car (to Fiat Auto Survival) at the 2005 Frankfurt motor show (15-25 September).

With petrol prices rising, and until the European brands catch up with Toyota and Honda's lead in the Hybrid technology, smaller body sizes and engine displacements can be reasonably expected to attract even more adepts in the coming years, in Europe and elsewhere.

Developed by Italdesign-Giugiaro together with the Fiat Style Centre, the Grande Punto rounded lines hint to sports cars of the 1950s and 1960s, with other nostalgic hints such as the small angular window in the front doors (near the side mirrors).

Same external dimensions for 3- and 5-door versions.

External dimensions put the Grande Punto in the higher end of its category: 4,03 metre long (+19 and 16.5 cm compared to the previous Punto 3- and 5-door versions), 1,68 m wide (+2 cm), 1,49 m high (+1 cm) and has a wheelbase of 2.51 metres (+5 cm).

Only a few years ago, these external dimensions would have put the Grande Punto in the C-segment (lower-medium category), rather than in its B-segment, supermini category. But most other models are growing too, not just the Punto.

So, the Grande Punto takes a leap forward compared to the Punto (of which, over six million units were sold in Europe since 1993), as the latter did to its predecessor, the Uno (1983), and as did the Uno to... remember, the Fiat 127 (1971).

The Grande Punto comes in:
- 2 body types: 3- or 5-doors,
- 4 equipment levels: Active, Dynamic, Emotion and Sport (see equipments below),
- 6 engines: 2 petrol choices and 4 diesels (see engines below),
- 13 body colours and 12 types of interior.

Specs tables

Click here to open the 6 graphs
or on thumbnails for their specs

Click to open the specs Click to open the specs
Click to open the specs Click to open the specs
Click to open the specs Click to open the specs

Passive safety features include (equipment may vary between markets) up to 7 airbags (six are standard on the Dynamic and Emotion specifications), two of which (front two) are of the multistage type; three-point seat-belts with pretensioners and load limiters, five head-restraints.

Once inflated, the curtain bags protect the heads of both front and rear passengers, since they cover the whole windows and guarantee protection even if the car overturns. Two sidebags built into the squab of the front seats, protect the pelvis and chest of front seat passengers in a side-on collision, regardless of their stature, position or seat adjustment. A knee-bag is available also as an option (driver).

The new model features Isofix attachments on the rear seat and the possibility to deactivate the passenger airbag from the onboard computer.

Active safety includes ABS anti-lock braking system which incorporates the EBD electronic brake effort distribution system between the wheels.

While ESP (standard on the Sport version) helps to correct the trajectory by braking the relevant wheel (inside or outside) individually and reducing the engine power (by adjusting the throttle valve), it integrates as well (when fitted) the Hill Holder function, assisting the driver on hill starts, by maintaining pressure on the front brake calipers for about 1.5 seconds after the brake pedal is released, allowing the driver to set off more easily. Of course, in downhill starts, the Hill Holder is deactivated. The same is true for hill starts in which reverse is engaged: downhill the system is activated, whereas uphill it is not activated.

Nice touch with the small rectangular glass in the front doors.

The HBA, or electro-hydraulic braking assistant automatically increases the pressure in the braking circuit during emergency braking (also called BA, Brake Assist in other brands), to compensate for some drivers hesitation to exploit the full braking potential (it is partially an inherited habit from the pre-ABS era, when full braking used to lead to skidding).

Steering - The “Dualdrive” electric power steering comes standard on all versions (worth checking in individual markets, especially outside Europe).

The servo-assisted steering exploits an electric motor rather than a hydraulic pump driven directly by the engine. Steering response is variable: the higher the speed the lower the effect of the servo, and the greater the effort on the steering wheel, the more precise the steering.

The electrical servo-assist also offers a choice between two different settings. One for out-of-town routes, the second (makes the steering lighter and requires less effort) for in-town driving and parking. The latter is engaged by pressing the ‘city’ key at the centre of the facia. To guarantee maximum safety at all times, the two programs have the same level of servo assist above 30 km/h, so that the response of the steering wheel is suitable for high speeds.

Suspension - Compared to the previous Punto, the new tracks are wider (an average of +70 mm at the front and +75 mm at the rear) and tyres are larger (from 175/65 15” to 205/45 17”).

Optional panoramic sunroof.

The geometry of the front suspension adopts lower links in a right-angled triangle to separate the braking loads from cornering loads and enhance balance in all driving conditions. The new front geometry also allows the car’s turning circle to be limited: on average it is about 10.6 metres, a very similar value to that of the previous Punto, in spite of the larger wheels and longer wheelbase.

The rear suspension is semi-independent and features interconnected wheels with a torsion axle designed to increase structural rigidity and to increase the flexibility of the suspension under load, by optimising the bushes between the rear axle and the bodyshell.

Brakes come throughout the range with ventilated disc brakes on the front wheels, drums or discs at the rear.

The 1.4 8v and 75 bhp 1.3 Multijet are available with ventilated 257 x 22 mm disc brakes and 228 mm rear drums (203 mm on the 1.2 8v).

The 90 bhp 1.3 Multijet and the 120 bhp 1.9 Multijet adopt 284 x 22 mm ventilated discs; 228 mm rear drums for the 90 bhp 1.3 Multijet and a solid 264 x 11 mm disc for the 1.9 Multijet.

Engines - Two petrol (below, 1 and 2) and four diesel engine (3 to 6) choices are available, with output ranging from 65 to 130 bhp.

3-doors version in 4-passenger specs.

1 - The 1242 cc 4-cylinder (two valves per cylinder) Fire engine (petrol) delivers 48 kW (65 bhp) at 5500 rpm and takes the car to a top speed of 155 km/h. Maximum torque is 102 Nm at 3000 rpm with a consumption (manufacturer's figures) of 7.9 l/100 km (urban cycle), 5.1 l/100 km (out of town) and 6.1 l/100 (combined cycle).

2 - The 1368 cc (two valves per cylinder) petrol engine gets 57 kW (77 bhp) at 6000 rpm with a peak torque of 115 Nm at 3000 rpm. Top speed is 165 km/h, and acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h takes 13.2 seconds. Consumption figures are 7.7 l/100 km in the urban cycle, 5.2 l/100 km out of town, and 6.1 l/100 km in the mixed cycle.

3 - The 1.3 16v Multijet (second generation direct injection Common rail diesel engine) now comes with a variable geometry turbo. It delivers 90 bhp (66 kW at 4000 rpm) and peak torque of 200 Nm at 1750 rpm. Top speed is 175 km/h and acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h takes 11.9 seconds. Consumption figures are 5.9 l/100 km in the urban cycle, 3.9 l/100 km out of town and 4.6 l/100 km in the mixed cycle.

All 5-doors versions come with 5-passenger seats.

4 - The second 1.3 Multijet diesel engine delivers 75 bhp (55 kW at 4000 rpm) and peak torque of  190 Nm at 1750 rpm. Top speed is 165 km/h with 13.6 sec. from 0 to 100 km/h. Combustion figures are 5.9 l/100 km in the urban cycle, 4.0 l/100 km out of town and 4.7 l/100 km in the mixed cycle.

Both the 75 bhp and the 90 bhp versions share the same engine architecture: 4 cylinders in line, 1248 cc, 16 valves driven directly by twin overhead camshafts via rocker fingers with a roller.

5 and 6 - The 1.9 Multijet comes in 120 bhp and 130 bhp versions. Both have 4 cylinders in line, two valves per cylinder. The first delivers 120 bhp (88 kW) at 4000 rpm and 280 Nm at 2000 rpm; the second gets 130 bhp (96 kW) at 4000 rpm and of 280 Nm at 2000 rpm.

Turbo boost is provided by a variable geometry Garrett VGT 17 turbo blower with electronic control that helps to improve the power delivery, but also generates very high torque at low engine speeds.

Boot capacity is 275 litres, with practical arrangements.

The 120 bhp 1.9 Multijet engine gives a top speed of 190 km/h and accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 10 seconds (the Sport version with the 130 bhp 1.9 Multijet engine gets 200 km/h and 9.5 seconds respectively).

Fuel consumption is 7.5 l/100 km in the urban cycle, 4.5 out of town, and 5.6 in town (the 130 bhp 1.9 Multijet gets 7.6, 4.6 and 5.7).  

A range of gearboxes was developed to match the engines. They are 5-speed manual for the 1.2 8v, 1.4 8v and 75 bhp 1.3 Multijet engine, or 6-speed manual for the 120 bhp and 130 bhp 1.9 Multijet engine and the 90 bhp 1.3 Multijet. A robotised Dualogic gearboxes will also be available later.

Equipment - Depending on versions, the rear seats have a fixed or 40-60 split squab (boot volume is 275 litres in normal configuration). The 3-door Grande Punto offers seating for two rear passengers as standard (a third passenger on request), whereas the 5-door version is homologated for 3 rear passengers.

In Italy, the basic version (Active) standard equipment list includes ABS with EBD (the ESP which comes standard on the Sport version), Dualdrive electric power steering, front airbags, electric front windows, remote control door release, reach and height adjustable steering wheel, height-adjustable driver’s seat, rear head-restraints, radio wiring with 6 speakers and a trip computer.

Fiat is continuing its perceived quality improvements.

The Dynamic version adds manual climate control, curtain bags, sidebags, radio with CD player and steering wheel mounted controls, leather covered gear lever knob and steering wheel, and a split folding rear seat on the 5-seater version.

Emotion specifications add a dual-zone automatic climate system, 15” alloy wheels, fog lights, Cruise Control, electric lumbar adjustment and a front armrest.

The Sport version gets 17” sporty alloys, side skirts, a spoiler, fog lights and a visible chromed exhaust terminal. Customer can also ask for one of the two special bodywork shades that are exclusive to this version: Passionate Red and Entertaining Orange. The Sport is also equipped with ESP, a leather covered steering wheel, gear lever knob and handbrake lever, special suspension setting, aerodynamic kit under the bodyshell.

The Active and Dynamic specifications offer a choice of three interior colours, while the Emotion and Sport outfits offer two environments in two different shades. Leather upholstery is available as an option.

Optionally too, the Grande Punto offers three levels of audio systems (Hi-Fi, Hi-Fi with subwoofer and an ‘Interscope’ Hi-Fi sound system), a large panoramic opening sunroof, a hands-free telephone system with Bluetooth technology and voice recognition, cruise control, rain sensor, parking aid and a tyre pressure sensor.

Instrumentation is available in two different versions. The multifunction display gives access to different menus and sub-menus in Italian, English, German, Portuguese, Spanish, French, Flemish or Polish, and allows the use of many functions such as the time, date, programmable beep, radio data display, check control, etc. The trip computer provides a set of data on journeys, consumption (both instant and average), average speed, remaining range, traveling time (from the start of the journey), and mileage traveled.

* ACEA's EU-15 countries include: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. For more information: www.acea.be

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