2012 FIAT PUNTO: TECHNOLOGY MEETS STYLE
The new 2012 Fiat Punto builds on the Italian company’s heritage of producing mould-breaking, class leading small cars. Aimed at the most competitive and dynamic sector of the car market, the 2012 Punto cements its hard-won reputation as a stylish, technologically advanced supermini.
Available with either three or five doors, the new Punto features a wider range of planet pleasing engines, more equipment, and more choice of specification than ever before. This enables it to meet buyers’ ever more demanding requirements for smaller, more environmentally friendly cars that are affordable to run, easy to live with, yet still chic, safe, comfortable and fun to drive.
The simplification of the name to simply Punto matches the rationalisation of the look, with a new exterior design, a new range of exterior colours, new alloy wheel designs, new colours and materials inside, and a new engine with the ground-breaking TwinAir joining the line-up.
The importance of the new Punto shouldn’t be underestimated. The supermini segment accounts for approximately a quarter of all the new cars sold with around 30 models from Europe, Japan and Korea all vying for a share of the market. Since its launch in 1993 the Punto has been a leader with more than 8.5m vehicles sold throughout Europe. The new 2012 Punto is tasked with developing this while appealing to a younger customer profile.
The five trim levels, Pop, Easy, Lounge and the new GBT and TwinAir, reflect this. The Pop version has been designed to appeal to price sensitive customers who don’t want to forego style just because they’re buying a very affordable car. The interior boasts stylish denim inserts on the seats, all models get Daytime Running Lights and the Blue&Me TomTom LIVE infotainment system can be specified.
The Easy version will be the big seller of the 2012 Punto range and features a combination of style and technology. Additionally, this gets body-coloured door handles and mirrors, remote control door locking, a rear bench that splits 60/40, heated mirrors, plus manual air-conditioning.
The range-topping Lounge gets new trim for the interior and features a new finish to the dash. Other luxury touches include sculpted sports seats, a front arm rest, climate control, cruise control, white ambient light on the dash and front fog lights.
The GBT model, built to celebrate Fiat’s support for British Cycling, is based on the Easy version, with sportier wheels, lowered sports suspension, darkened privacy glass, a body coloured rear spoiler and side skirts. The TwinAir model is also based on the Easy with 15-inch multi-spoke diamond finish wheels, glossy black mirror covers and door pillars, unique seats, and darkened privacy glass.
Compared to the Punto Evo range that the new model replaces, the engine line up has been rationalised too. It now includes the award-winning TwinAir Turbo engine which offers the performance of a four-cylinder combined with the economy of a two-cylinder and the sound-track of something that thrives on being driven.
Fiat’s clever MultiAir technology also features in a pair of 1.4-litre engines, one with a turbo, one without. The MultiAir philosophy controls combustion directly through the intake valves rather than by the throttle to give better efficiency and more power than other similarly sized units. The petrol line-up is completed by conventional 1.2 and 1.4-litre units which use the latest variable valve timing to ensure they’re as economical as they are fun to drive.
Finally there are a pair of class-leading MultiJet 2 diesels. These put out 75 and 85hp with the latter engine benefiting from more new technology to emit just 90g/km of carbon dioxide.
All this is housed in a re-working of the Punto’s now familiar shape that makes it even more handsome and brings it right up to date.
DYNAMIC AND DISTINGUISHED
The new 2012 Fiat Punto maintains the model’s instantly recognisable and dynamic shape but it’s been made even more elegant and characterful thanks to a host of detail changes, inside and out.
The most noticeable of these modifications is a new front bumper. To ensure the exterior look of the car reflects the cutting edge technology inside, it blends the strong points of the 2005 Grande Punto’s design with those of the 2009 Punto Evo. Whether in three or five door, the new bumper gives the front an elegant look, aided by being painted the same colour as the rest of the car. The two air intakes are split by the number plate but enclosed in a single trapezium-shaped perimeter. The direction indicators remain on either side of the number plate with headlights above, the round fog lights with cornering function are located within the lower air intake.
All models have a black grille with a hexagonal mesh pattern. This makes the grille stand out from the rest of the car giving the new Punto’s appearance a more technical and sporty feel. The body coloured front bumper also helps the Fiat badge stand out more prominently than before.
At the rear the Fiat badge now doubles as the door lock: push it and the tailgate opens. The Punto logo sits beneath it in the centre and has a red dot in the same colour as the Fiat badge. As at the front, the rear bumper has been redesigned to be the same colour as the rest of the car. Beneath it the rear fog and reversing lights have been elongated and integrated into the surrounding surface.
New-look wheels and colours complete the makeover. The 15-inch alloys have a new design and there are three new metallic bodywork colours. The TwinAir name denotes a new trim level which has a dedicated colour, Unplugged Green, with a glossy black roof available as an option.
To go with the smart new appearance outside, brand new fabrics on the seats and dashboard have been used inside to give the 2012 Punto a fresher, more youthful look. Fabric with electro-welded patches to facilitate ventilation in hot weather and even a Sportex material with a hexagonal pattern similar to the front grille are available. There are also new soft touch coverings available on the dashboard.
The entry level Pop model has been designed to be an accessible, simple and functional way into Punto ownership. Even so, it’s still very well equipped, coming with stylish Spicy Grey interiors complete with fabric seats that have red stitching on them, height and reach-adjustable steering wheel, height-adjustable driver’s seat, trip computer, remote central locking, electric front windows, driver, passenger and window airbags, radio, CD and MP3 player, rear head restraints and ABS anti-lock braking.
The mid-range Easy and GBT trim levels offer an exceptional price to equipment ratio. Designed to embody a combination of style and technology, their dashboard has black Diamond inserts and the seats feature embellishments in one of three colours which contrast with the charcoal interior elsewhere. On top of the equipment in the Pop the Easy has as standard manual air-conditioning, driver knee airbag, leather covered steering wheel and gear lever knob, a rear bench that splits 60/40, darkened headlights, body-coloured electrically adjustable heated door mirrors, body-coloured door handles and 15-inch Comfortline alloy wheels.
The GBT version has the same specification as the Easy, but with 15-inch Sportline alloy wheels, darkened privacy glass, sports suspension and body coloured rear spoiler and side skirts.
Top of the range is represented by the elegant and sporty Lounge model. This has 15-inch Sportline alloy wheels, front fog lights with cornering function, the Skydome electric sun roof, chrome-plated exhaust pipe, sculpted Castiglio fabric seats, automatic dual-zone climate control, front arm rest, ESP, electric rear windows on the five door, ambient lighting inside and Blue&Me with Bluetooth plus USB and Aux inputs.
To emphasise the unique, innovative and cheeky personality of the TwinAir model it gets its own trim. Exterior details such as the door mirrors and pillars are gloss black while the 15-inch alloy wheels also get a glossy diamond finish. The darkened burnished headlights and a special TwinAir logo complete its identification.
In addition to its unique Unplugged Green paint, most of the other 12 shades of the Punto range are also available with a gloss black roof in TwinAir spec. Inside, the seat upholstery is grey Sportex fabric complete with the TwinAir logo embossed on the front headrests while the soft touch fascia has the black Diamond finish. In addition to the same equipment as the Easy, it also features darkened privacy glass and front fog lights with a cornering function.
With the new model, Fiat Punto owners will be able personalise like never before. To create a car that’s truly made to measure there are a total of 13 body colours, five trim levels, seven types of interior upholstery, 11 types of stylish alloy wheel and a host of other accessories. The result is an infinite number of combinations for owners to give their Punto a unique touch.
NEW ENGINES IMPROVE EFFICIENCY
To demonstrate its technical excellence, at the heart of the 2012 Punto is a revamped range of five petrol and two diesel engines. Each offers a varying degree of driveability and class-leading efficiency to ensure the new Punto is capable of satisfying all manner of demanding drivers. All engine options feature Fiat’s Start&Stop (optional on Easy 1.2) combined with a Gear Shift Indicator which suggests the best gear to reduce fuel consumption and emissions by up to 15 per cent on an urban route.
For the first time, the Punto comes with Fiat Powertrain’s ground-breaking TwinAir Turbo engine. Winner of the 2011 International Engine of the Year, and Best Green Engine 2011, this is a two-cylinder that drives like a four cylinder. It works with a six-speed gearbox to pair two distinct characters in one compact, low weight package to appeal to multiple driving styles.
In Normal mode, full engine performance is on tap to ensure lively and spirited progress courtesy of a zesty peak power of 85hp at 5500 rpm and maximum torque of 145Nm at 2000rpm. Pushing the Eco button on the dashboard reduces torque to 110Nm at 2500rpm. This makes the engine even better at coping with town driving conditions, reduces fuel consumption and emissions, and helps the engine achieve its amazing 98g/km of CO2.
Engineers settled on the capacity of this two-cylinder engine after numerous thermodynamic calculations specified the optimum surface-to-volume ratio of the combustion chamber to yield maximum efficiency. A small turbocharger was chosen to ensure maximum torque from low engine speeds. Combined with dedicated valve management, this minimises engine response times and keeps power levels high to amplify driver pleasure. The result is performance that’s approximately 25 per cent better than the 1.2-litre 8-valve engine.
Thanks to Fiat’s MultiAir technology, engine combustion is controlled directly through the intake valves. This facilitates high combustion stability even at very low engine loads which uses the injected fuel in the most efficient way to reduce emissions.
But the TwinAir isn’t just notable for the driving pleasure and low fuel consumption it offers. It’s also remarkably refined. Engineers worked hard to maintain the distinctive sound of the two-cylinder while reducing vibrations courtesy of a balancing countershaft and dual-mass flywheel.
MultiJet 2 Turbo diesel
Fiat has a proud history of world firsts in diesel engine development. There was the first direct injection diesel engine in a production saloon car in the 1980s, and in the 1990s it invented Common Rail. Then in 2003 Fiat came up with MultiJet. The 2012 Punto features an evolution of the MultiJet 2 engine, which is available in this latest Punto with two power outputs.
The new 85hp 1.3-litre 16-valve version sees the MultiJet 2 family of engines take another step forward with the introduction of two new technologies. An Intelligent Alternator optimises the recharging strategy of the battery when the engine is cut by the Start&Stop system. Intelligent Flow employs a variable displacement oil pump and optimisation of the cooling circuit to improve efficiency. The results are a punchy 200Nm of torque at 1500rpm combined with CO2 emissions of just 90g/km which makes the Punto one of the cleanest cars in its class. It’s also one of the most economical, with a Combined Cycle figure of 80.7 mpg.
As with all second-generation MultiJet engines, both this unit and the 75hp version employ a new common rail injection system with a balanced solenoid servo valve. This controls the quantity of diesel injected into the cylinder with enormous precision to allow a quicker and more flexible injection sequence than previously.
The eight injections per cycle also feature Fiat’s ground-breaking Injection Rate Shaping (IRS) technology. This consists of two consecutive injections with zero hydraulic dwell in between. It means combustion is more gradual and at higher loads is smoother leading to improvements in consumption, emissions and noise. In real terms, consumption and CO2 emissions of these Euro 5 compatible engines are believed to be improved by around three per cent, and nitrogen oxide emissions are reduced by 20 per cent.
Further gains in efficiency are made thanks to low viscosity transmission fluid and second generation turbochargers. The fixed geometry turbo in the 75hp version and the variable vane geometry of the 85hp version ensure the best possible turbo function at any engine speed. On top of that, torque at low revs is improved by 25 per cent compared to the previous engine. The 1.3-litre MultiJet 2 engines come with a five-speed manual gearbox.
Just as Fiat has revolutionised the world of diesel engines, so it has also been instrumental in technological advances in petrol power, courtesy of its MultiAir range. Compared with a traditional petrol engine, a MultiAir unit has increased power and torque along with lower fuel consumption and emissions. The 2012 Fiat Punto range features two different power outputs of MultiAir engine: 105hp and 135hp.
MultiAir takes dynamic control of drawing air into the engine, cylinder by cylinder and stroke by stroke without using the throttle. At its heart is a new electro-hydraulic valve management system that uses a high pressure oil chamber between the camshaft and the intake valve, managed by a solenoid valve connected to the engine’s ECU. This enables increased flexibility in valve lift schedules and allows them to vary, depending on how much air the engine requires.
As a consequence, full valve lift is only used when full engine power is required. At start-up, late intake valve opening gives a higher air speed intake to optimise the petrol/air mix and its combustion. At partial engine load, early intake valve closing optimises volume efficiency and reduces pumping losses. Backflow into the maniflow is avoided and air mass trapped in the cylinder optimised. Combustion can be further enhanced by multiple valve opening or multi-lift at low engine speeds or from idle.
The result of this versatile technology isn’t just a 10 per cent reduction in consumption and emissions. It also boosts power by 10 per cent and torque by 15 per cent compared to regular engines. And since air intake is adjusted precisely according to road conditions and driving style, the MultiAir engines are more relaxing to drive in heavy traffic and more fun, with improved dynamic responses on the open road.
The 135hp 1.4-litre MultiAir engine has a turbocharger that gives the 2012 Fiat Punto the performance of a sports car. The turbo gives optimal torque delivery throughout the rev range and sees it hitting 62mph from standstill in just 8.5 seconds. But despite this and a top speed of 124mph it still returns 50.4mpg on the Combined Cycle and 129g/km of CO2 emissions.
The 2012 Punto range starts with the 1.2-litre Fire EVO II engine. This 1.2-litre eight-valve has continuously variable valve timing to optimise the opening and closing of the valves. This ensures maximum efficiency but still means the engine feels peppy thanks to a healthy 102Nm of peak torque at 3000rpm and a maximum power output of 69hp.
The other engine in the range is the 1.4-litre eight-valve. As with every other engine in the line-up it’s compliant with Euro 5 exhaust emissions legislation and has a handy 77hp and 115Nm of peak torque. Like the 1.2, this engine comes with a five-speed gearbox. It is also the only engine in the 2012 Punto range to be available with the five-speed Dualogic semi-automatic gearbox.
With such a host of high efficiency, low environmental impact technologies now available on its cars, Fiat has given them an umbrella name. Included in the new Air Technologies brand are the Start&Stop and Gear Shift Indicator plus the exclusive eco:Drive software.
TECHNOLOGY IN ACTION
In its various previous guises, the Punto has been renowned for a high level of exciting and innovative technology. It became the first car in the supermini sector to feature an in-built infotainment system courtesy of Blue&Me. It was also the first car in its class to be able to analyse and give suggestions for improving driving styles in real time thanks to eco:Drive. The 2012 Fiat Punto builds on these attributes.
Blue&Me TomTom LIVE
Fiat recognises that it’s vitally important for drivers to be able to concentrate on the road and not on finding directions or operating in-car entertainment systems, so the 2012 Punto can be specified with Blue&Me TomTom LIVE.
Designed for maximum user friendliness, this integrates mobile phones and media players with the car’s built-in systems so drivers can use them in total safety without taking their hands off the wheel. Featuring a 4.3-inch high definition touch screen that mounts in a cradle on the dash board, this system is much more than mere satellite navigation.
Using Fiat’s intuitive Blue&Me, phones and media players can be synched via Bluetooth, meaning there are no untidy wires. The devices can then be controlled through the touchscreen, with buttons on the steering wheel or using voice commands, without drivers taking their eyes off the road or their hands from the wheel.
The Blue&Me TomTom LIVE screen is mounted on the dashboard but can be removed so the driver can also use it as a portable navigation system. The navigation system features detailed maps, a routing system that chooses the best roads after analysing traffic conditions, and TomTom HD Traffic with detailed information on traffic, queues, road blocks and engineering works updated every two minutes during the journey.
Blue&Me also incorporates Fiat’s revolutionary eco:Drive system. This enables users to download information about their driving to a USB stick. This can then be uploaded to their computer and by accessing Fiat’s eco:Drive website, acceleration, deceleration, gear shifts and speed are analysed to give drivers a personal eco:Index of between 1 and 100. The eco:Drivers then receive tips on how to improve their performance and can become part of the eco:Ville on-line community. This has so far enabled 64,000 users to save 4300 tonnes of CO2 through improvement in their driving styles.
Start&Stop and Gear Shift Indicator
To boost economy further, all engines are equipped with Fiat’s Start&Stop. This is specifically designed for city driving and switches the engine off when traffic signals or conditions require the vehicle to stop, while keeping all functions such as lights, windscreen wipers, climate control and the sound system operating. When it’s time to move off again, lifting off the brake or touching the clutch triggers the engine to fire up.
The Start&Stop comes with a Gear Shift Indicator (GSI). This offers a discreet prompt to drivers to change gear at the optimum point to minimise fuel consumption. In urban driving fuel economy can be boosted by up to 15 per cent if both these technologies are employed.
As with every Fiat, the priority is to ensure the safety and well being of everyone on board. The vehicle body is made out of high strength steel and handling has been made as predictable as possible thanks to independent MacPherson strut suspension at the front and torsion beam at the rear.
Fiat’s Dualdrive electric power steering gives the driver plenty of feedback without drawing too much power from the engine. Driver, passenger and window airbags are standard fit on every model, as are front and rear adjustable head restraints. But there are also plenty of features that are usually considered the preserve of larger models.
To ensure that drivers can see, adaptive cornering fog lights show the way round corners. To make sure that cars can be seen they feature Daytime Running Lights (DRL). These use less power than dipped beam headlights and are switched on automatically by the key going into the ignition. Using them doesn’t illuminate the instrument panel so this maintains its visibility during daylight. As well as this, the front fog light flashes at the same time as the first indicator blink to signify a lane change manoeuvre.
The Punto is fitted with a powerful braking system that is supplemented by various electronic systems. There’s ABS anti-lock braking that detects and prevents wheel locking in extreme braking or on slippery surfaces. The Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) helps increase the amount of control the driver has in all conditions. By monitoring steering inputs the ESP can tell if the car is deviating from its intended path and steps in to brake individual wheels so the car returns to its correct trajectory.
The same computer controls the Hill Holder which maintains braking pressure after the driver lifts off the pedal to ensure perfect hill starts every time. The 2012 Fiat Punto can also be specified with rain sensors. Using an infrared LED installed in the front of the screen these detect the presence of rain and automatically switch the windscreen wipers on if it’s sufficiently wet.