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ITALIAN FOR A BRIGHT FUTURE

The second generation FIAT-Punto, which debuted last summer (ZR, 1999, No. 9), has not yet completely replaced its predecessor from the assembly line

1993 year. The old "Punto", which has become a bestseller, is still available today.

True, mainly for countries

with a low level of income, to which,

Alas, Russia also applies.

Yuri NECHETOV

HOW MUCH IS?

Although Russian dealers are awaiting delivery of the new model from day to day, prices for it have not yet been determined. But for sure they will be much more than $ 6900. That’s how much the old five-door Punto-55 with a 1.1 liter engine in the basic configuration costs (immobilizer, audio preparation, headlight corrector, clock, heater and rear window cleaner, remote unlocking of the trunk, lock on the gas tank cover). Such cars are still found in salons "alive". At the request of the buyer, power windows ($ 190–260), an anti-theft alarm system (about $ 300), and alloy wheels (from $ 240) will be added to the above. In the absence of a machine in stock, it can be ordered, and in any configuration that is limited only by the capabilities of the client.

As with most compact cars, the urban crowd is the element of FIAT Punto. He has a small overall size, excellent visibility, high maneuverability, surprisingly good dynamics with such a modest motor, precise trajectory following, tenacious brakes. The passive is a noisy engine under load, a stiffer suspension that sonically transmits all blows from potholes to the body, and an inexplicably heavy steering wheel (without an amplifier), which also makes as much as 4.5 turns from lock to lock. A loud, hardworking motor makes you want to look at the tachometer, and there it’s “half past ten”: in the traditional place to the right of the speedometer there is a large and detailed watch dial.

An empty car at high speed too faithfully monitors all the waves on the pavement, annoying vertical buildup. On a loaded suspension, it sometimes “punches” all the way. So it’s possible to drive fast enough only along a highway with even coverage. The machine is economical to envy, but serve only unleaded “95th” gasoline. When you press the right steering column switch, only the windshield washer works, and the cleaner has to be turned on with an additional click down. Armchairs are comfortable enough and on a long journey they will not make you fidget constantly in search of a comfortable pose.

So, stop, the car is a short-stroke suspension not for rough terrain. The ground clearance of Punto is considerable, but this, as they say, is not a reason - the fuel pipelines laid along the bottom are quite vulnerable. Under the engine compartment there is a tin screen that can protect against splashes, but is not designed for power resistance. And thin external panels are not overloaded with excessive strength. At the same time, it is pleasant to note the high rigidity of the body - even with diagonal hanging, none of the five doors wedge.

Punto's doors swing open very wide and welcoming. However, in case of incomplete opening, the most powerful retainer springs strive to rearrange them to the nearest “legal” position. The result is sometimes unpleasant - a blow to either a nearby car or a driver’s lower leg.

The main feature of the Punto interior is its rather high height and vertical landing. Thanks to this, under the front seats there is quite enough room for the legs of the rear passengers (remember the “nine”!), Their knees do not rest on the backs, and their heads on the ceiling. If the people are full, then it is better to put three friends back, and even better relatives - sit in their arms, gently bowing their heads on each other's shoulders, away from the hard plastic racks. But what makes the imported car similar to the domestic ones is some negligence in manufacturing: the fitting of the panels is imperfect, the paint has “shagreen” and drips, the seals are uneven, the burrs are on the plastic parts, and the speaker grids located right in front of the eyes are completely distorted.

Thanks to the compact rear suspension, the Punto trunk is an almost regular parallelepiped of a sufficiently large volume (we measured as much as 265 liters). But you can still remove the shelf and load under the ceiling or even fold the back seat - though not cut. Loading and unloading is not a problem - the opening is large enough and reaches the bumper itself. In general, the main limitation when transporting cargo is the energy intensity of the suspension.

Moreover, it is possible with a high degree of probability to predict what exactly will break in the first place - the rear suspension. According to repairmen, in our conditions silent blocks ($ 80 per set) have to be changed (4 hours of work at $ 25 per standard hour) after 25-30 thousand kilometers. However, there is hope that during intensive operation the first repair will be in the warranty period, which is 1 year or 50 thousand km.

Punto has no other apparent weaknesses. As for the prices of spare parts, they are many times different for original and non-original parts. Moreover, the latter are often no worse - for example, German, but Turkish is better to beware.

FIAT-Punto -

the city car of our bright future, in which we finally learn how to build roads …