What a great start to a Sunday morning! Firstly I am in Lowestoft, and despite the wayfarers and vagabonds that plague England's most Easterly Town it is still a beautiful part of the UK to be in. The Beach is long - stretching from Pakefield (South Lowestoft) right the way through the main promenade up to Corton. Follow from there and you can walk from Hopton Beach to Gorleston! For those unfamiliar to Suffolk check the places I have mentioned. It is a beautiful place for long walks, and not a bad place for driving either ;-)
Which brings me to this.. A 2010 Reg Fiat Abarth Punto EVO ESSESSE. Quite a lot to swallow so I will use either 'Fiat Punto' or 'Punto' for the remainder of the review.
After much pestering (and begging) I was finally given the keys to this bad boy ;-) I have previously posted images of this car on my Facebook page and EVERYBODY loves it! BMW Lane Hoggers, Porsche 911 Wankers, Vauxhall Astra VXR boys and Honda Gays all seem to share an appreciation for James Rushmere's Punto and I'll tell you why - ITS THTE TITS! I can't deny it - this car is HOT!
After much gawping and picture taking we visited BP for some BP 'Ultimate'. I am a fan of BP Fuels and run my cars on BP Ultimate. Tesco Momentum is a close second, and I don't get on with Shell V Power as much. I don't think it is in my head - as I regularly test V Power and find the cars are only good at high RPM's. For my cars and customer cars, I stick with BP Fuels.
After squeezing some juice in the tank - we set off for the B-roads that head out to Haddiscoe. They aren't the best roads for testing cars in East Anglia but saves driving to Acle to test a vehicle then drive back when time is a constraint. The tarmac is accompanied with some nice twisties, so I was able to test the chassis in a shorter amount of time.
Thankfully the car is sat on Continental Tyres. From memory they were SPCT3's but don't quote me. All I know is they offer decent grip without having to get them hot - the only downside to Continental's is the rubber doesn't last when running lots of torque. This vehicle has a 1.4 Litre Petrol Turbo so it'll be fine. I didn't push too hard at first, more interested in finding the 'balance' point of the chassis and seeing how it turns when approaching 30mph bends.. Not bad! Unfortunately there isn't a way to turn off the Traction Control, but will see if it can be removed at a later date. It intrusive like the Ford/Vauxhall cars and doesn't cause me to shout as it 'helps' for no reason. It really isn't a bad system - but would want it removing if it was mine.
This really was a great car to drive during the time I had it. It sits well on the coilovers, but could do with raising slightly for faster road/track use. We are considering taking it to The Nurburgring at some point so would definitely need the height raising before leaving the country. But! Before I bore you all completely - lets get on with the review ;-)
Yes! I have previously owned the older (2002) style Fiat Punto 1.9 JTD and that was a giggle to throw about on the Avon Tyres I fitted. This is the evolutionary 'leap' in chassis development/stiffer frame and is probably one of the best cars Fiat have ever put out. I love how it rides, and felt safe testing it the back roads between Lowestoft, Somerleyton and Haddiscoe.
Could I drive this car every day? Yes I could. I wouldn't mind doing a joint trip in this car to The Nurburgring as its comfy as anything. The bucket seats are bang on perfect for an old git like me!
Yes I do like... I like it a lot actually. The look of this car is what attracted me in the first place. I think I saw it on a page after a car event in Great Yarmouth, and after some digging found out who owned the vehicle. I think it is a great looking, modern Sporty Hatchback and deserves credit for having the 'image' but not overdoing it like the Corsa VXR. This is a perfect blend of Sports Style and Poise, without making the driver look like somebody who lives religiously in a Lonsdale Tracksuit with dried food stained on them. I love this car! I would happily step out of this when going to the gym, or shopping, or visiting the cinema/restaurant/car event etc.
The power isn't too bad tbh. It leaves the factory with a not too shabby 270NM which is great when compared (again) to the Opel Corsa D VXR. It makes an extra 20NM torque from a smaller 1.4 Litre motor. I was impressed at the Low and Mid grunt when driving, but found it a little 'restrained' up top. Personally I would tune the engine to get the best from it, but not so much as to make it undriveable. I love its character and would be happy with maybe just an extra 15-20hp and 50NM. Torque is king, and if it put down between 310-320NM it would be in competition with several Hot Hatches and become a 'pest' against much higher powered vehicles to around 90-100mph!
I really fancy the power delivery, although you do have to keep it in Sport Mode . If not the throttle loses all 'hope' and the car feels very flat. Normal Mode is fine for town driving and cruising although I like my throttle response to be the same throughout the drive, as does the vehicle's owner.
Sounds good to me and isn't too intrusive. By that I mean I can hear the exhaust tone when driving the car, but 'off' throttle and cruising its just perfect. I can't hear anything inside the cabin unless I am driving through the gears which is just how a Sports Car should be.
It features twin tailpipes at the rear, and looks the part from where I'm standing. It is completely standard, so Fiat did very well making it sound decent for a factory system!
To end, this really is a lovely motor and I enjoyed taking it out for the half an hour (possibly an hour) test around Suffolk. Many thanks to James Rushmere for putting up with me annoying him on Facebook - really appreciated you taking time out for this, Cheers!
Nicholas Lawrence //ON CARS
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