Driven: Fiat Punto 2012 ‘Evo-lutionized’ with TwinAir
After almost a full day of testing near Fiat’s test track Balocco, we are more than able to give a judgement on the new Fiat Punto 2012 (duemiladodici) with TwinAir engine. Surely, it is not the first time we’ve met with the TwinAir (500 and Ypsilon), but never on ‘an international scale’. This exclusive introduction made possible by FGA is a great opportunity to highlight the TwinAir succes of Fiat Powertrain Technologies. The restyled Punto 2012 is already the 6th generation and in general has been the most seen and sold car in Italy for years. In the main European countries they have also been sold in their hundreds of thousands. Now together with this 2 cylinder innovation, a winning team is almost certainly made.
Firing up the TwinAir is almost like starting a go-kart, as we told one of the Balocco crew members. Technically the TwinAir is identical to any other, apart from the 6-speed manual gearbox attached to it. Besides the pleasant sound consumption on motorways, according to Fiat it should also enable the Punto to maximize fuel efficiency. Theoretically it should be possibile to reach 23.8 km on 1L (around 55 miles / gallon), with a CO² score staying below 100 with just 98 gr/km. Unfortunately our ‘testing behaviour’ did not permit us to. Whether the TwinAir will be given another chapter by Fiat Air Technologies in the Alfa Romeo MiTo is just a matter of time. Without the turbo though, it could be Alfa unworthy. Enough facts and numbers then. We set out on a pre-scheduled route through a landscape any other seen before. The weather gods were in our favour that day and gave us a truly spectacular foggy and snowy scenery. Motorways, small and bumpy roads cutting through small villages like Balocco: missing out on the ‘Exotica Red’ Punto was virtually impossible.
Compared to the previous Punto (Evo), the new Punto got rid of its moustache giving it a more fresher and serious look, especially in the exclusive lime green colour scheme only available for the TwinAir. Another must buy on the Punto TwinAir is the superb piano black roof. The interior should also have been slightly modified according to FGA. We couldn’t find any shockingly new features apart from some different materials (so called ‘High Touch’ interior) but that doesn’t mean its out of date. In fact the Punto 2012 will be on the market until 2014 when Fiat will introduce a completely new successor.
Just like our first 2 cylinder experience, don’t be fooled by your ears. Below 2,000 not much seems to happen apart from vibrations which leads you to think the engine needs more revs. Even at 3,000 rpm the TwinAir is still relatively silent and that causes many to change gears at higher revs. The help of a shift indicator could work in your favor, but revving the 2 cylinder is just quite entertaining. The steering of the Punto is allright, but just like the previous Punto’s ignore the ‘City’ button unless you are driving in some small medieval town. The overal handling is pretty good and the comfort level at 80 mp/h is just incredible for an engine this size.
The Punto TwinAir offers a lot of value for money. It looks and drives like a contemporary car and with the TwinAir engine proves it’s ready for at least two more years of succes. The Punto 2012 will be available from April onwards in most European countries.