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"The Fiat Punto has low running costs and is cheap to buy, but it’s now quite dated and let down by poor build quality and sloppy handling."

The Fiat Punto sits in the packed supermini class where it faces strong competition from rivals such as the best-selling Ford Fiesta. the much-improved Vauxhall Corsa and the upmarket Volkswagen Polo. The Punto doesn’t excel in one particular area but it is relatively cheap, both to buy and to run, and comfortable too.

The Punto feels most suited to town driving, where its light steering and compact dimensions make parking and navigating tight spaces a doddle. The car is less impressive at speed on twisty roads, where its soft suspension means its rolls and wallows in corners. This setup does mean, however, that it’s a decent cruiser once up to speed on motorways.

The most economical model is the 1.3-litre Multijet diesel, which claims an official figure of 80.7mpg. The petrol engines available aren’t bad but they don’t deliver the same performance as the engines available for the class-leading Ford Fiesta.

The first Fiat Punto was launched in the early 1990s and has naturally undergone a lot of changes since then, including the trim levels on offer. Currently, you can order the car in three basic specifications; Pop, Easy and GBT. The GBT trim is sportier than the rest and includes bigger alloy wheels and a firmer suspension setup. A limited edition Jet Black 2 model is also available, which comes with a black styling pack and extra equipment.

The Punto’s boot is quite small for a supermini but space available with the seats folded flat is closer to that of rivals. Head and legroom for passengers is pretty good and four adults should be comfortable enough on longer journeys – adding a fifth person in the middle seat changes that for all three passengers in the back, as it gets pretty cramped.

Although a facelift gave the Punto a welcome design refresh and heralded an improvement in build quality, the car still lags significantly behind rivals like the Volkswagen Polo in those areas. The Fiat is keenly priced and comfortable but again, the best in class, such as the Skoda Fabia. are better in both regards.

The Fiat Punto with a diesel engine is cheap to run but there are plenty of other superminis that can match its efficiency, and what’s more they trump the Punto in other areas too. This is ultimately why it’s hard to recommend the car over others in its class.