Fiat Punto

Italian manufacturer Fiat began producing the Fiat Punto in 1993. This supermini is currently in its third generation. Internally codenamed Project 176, the Punto was made public in September 1993 and launched in early 1994 as a replacement for the aged Fiat Uno. The Punto was later voted European Car of the Year for 1995 giving it quite the ego boost. The Punto's distinctive clean-cut styling by Giorgetto Giugiaro was an instantaneous hit. Another one of the reasons that the Fiat has fared so well is that it was very competitively priced. It undercut rivals such as the Opel Corsa and the Volkswagen Polo which drastically effected its standing in the marketplace. Entry-level in the Punto range were the 1.1 and 1.2 L gasoline engines and the 1.7 diesel engine. A more powerful 1.6 Sporting was also available for some time. But the best performing version was the 1.4 GT Turbo – capable of running 124 mph and reaching 60 mph in just 8.3 seconds using an evolution of the turbocharged 128 SOHC engine. This particular engine was originally found in the Fiat Uno Turbo Mk II. A convertible version was also available; built by Bertone featuring a powered fully retracting roof and was one of the cheapest open-top cars in the world at the time. The Fiat Punto has always been popular with amateur racing drivers due to its low cost and the wide availability of spare parts. Several competition versions of the Punto have been produced, such as the Punto Rally, the S1600 and the Punto Abarth. To the delight of Rally enthusiasts, a new rally car based on the third generation Punto was unveiled in 2005. It is four-wheel drive and powered by a 2.0 L 16 valve engine capable of producing 280 hp. Granted, it is no Ferrari, but it does cost a whole lot less.