Fiat - advise someone else who's tempted - hootie
I'm new to this board, but looking back I gather that Fiat - the wisdom (or otherwise) of purchasing one, is a really hot topic when it gets going.

I'm on a search for a small car for my 19 yr old daughter who's learning to drive. Lots more cars to investigate, but we both like the look of some nearly new or demonstrator Puntos.

My husband is dead set against - then again he wont be driving it.

I've read about the finanical background of the company, the possibility of unhelpful dealerships and the build quality of some of the cars, which people say can be a gamble.

For someone like me, looking to make a sensible purchase rather than one driven by the heart - what really is the bottom line on the Punto (say year 2000 +) ?

Daughter and I are tempted, but feel from what we've read and heard, that we might be reckless if we go ahead - any thoughts?
Fiat - advise someone else who's tempted - shuggie
Well I can only speak from experience and I would have to say that I would buy a FIAT without qualms. People tend to live in the past relating to so many things regarding the auto industry and old impressions die hard - there are still people who think Skodas are a joke and because a car is a Citroen that it will be overly complicated ..... As an engineer working very closely with the auto industry all over the world I would say that there really is not that many car companies left who put things together badly. My Mum has a Punto that she bought from new (Y reg) and it has been absolutely faultless. I drive it when i am home in the UK, as I live now in Prague and have racked up serious miles in the Punto and I, in all honesty, can say that I really like it a lot. Its comfortable, fairly nippy, economical, the City setting on the power steering is just great when negotiating your way out of tight parking spots, its been reliable, great access to get in an out for older people, or those with joint problems, as the doors seem to open really wide (or is that just my imagination !?) and its a pretty stylish wee buggy to boot.

If you have a problem with a dealer then go to another, there are no shortage of people out there who can look after you and your car and FIAT are hardly likely to have a company policy of enlisting agents who are the bottom of the barrel. I am sure a trawl through the Honest John archive will show bad experiences at dealers of every marque.

I guess in buying a second hand Punto there is a risk but that applies to any vehicle, just make sure you do your homework and eliminate as many of the potential problems as you can, before you part with any cash.

There is never any shortage of armchair experts who will try to influence your decision when buying a car but I always say that as it is you (your daughter) that has to live with it then get what you want, not what others tell you you should have.
Fiat - advise someone else who's tempted - bazza
Several people I know have Puntos, none have had any serious problems, although dealer customer service is not wonderful.The Punto is not a bad car, it's just that there are makes out there (notably Toyota Yaris, Nissan Micra ) with better reliability and customer service reputations. Japanese models consistently score highest in most if not all of the car surveys. I think your best bet if you really must have a Punto is to go for nearly new, thus avoiding some of the severe initial depreciation. But for a sensible buy, my choice would be a newish Toyota Yaris, excellent reputation, helpful dealers and solid residual values. Good luck!
Fiat - advise someone else who's tempted - tunacat
Still a bit of a gamble, I'd have thought. It's difficult to ignore the lowly positions Fiats continue to achieve in the satisfaction and reliability surveys. One mate of mine had a W reg one from new and it was forever back for repair. The dealers were courteous enough, but just didn't seem very good at fixing the faults either. They practically painted him his own parking space outside. He now owns a Toyota. However, two other mates have had Puntos with no significant problems. Depends how much you're ruled by the head or the heart I suppose - the Punto has a certain fizz and style, which you might demand despite knowing the potential fragility. The head might suggest a Nissan Micra, but that might be thought too boring. On the other hand there's nothing more boring than a car that won't start, or spends more time in garage's possession than your own. Then there's your time, and the hassle of making other travel arrangements...

What about a Toyota Yaris? More expensive, but holds its value better. Or even a Ford Ka?
Talking of expense, those trips to the garage are seldom cheap - your husband may not be driving it, but his reticence on a Punto makes me suspect he might be the one who'd end up paying for those visits (?)
Fiat - advise someone else who's tempted - hootie
Thanks - it's daft really, think we've answered our own question, a Punto would be a triumph of heart over head.

Money not the issue - we're an equal opportunities household
here, but I'm the kind of person who does exhaustive research,
leaves no stone unturned, makes comparison charts - and then does the sensible thing. Mind you the budget seems to be creeping up somehow.
Driving fun is not the issue either, there's time for that when she's paying her own way!

I'm the person with the massive number of replies on the Small Car Sensible Advice thread - so you can see I have a lot of food for thought. The Fiat debate has just intrigued me as
opinions can be quite split.

Off out soon to trawl around looking at VW's, Seats, Toyotas and Micras plus anything else that crops up.

Am seriously considering looking down in the Eastborne area (about 35 miles away but in the direction we never normally go) cos I have an inkling that prices might be cheaper, and nearly new more available than my neck of the woods (near Tunbridge Wells) - that might be wishful thinking though.
Fiat - advise someone else who's tempted - sean
If you have read back through the topics, what on earth is tempting you?

Snr Agnelli, Fiat Owner, admits his cars are undeveloped compared to the opposition. That translates to breakdowns and misery all round.

Fiat are losing money like it's going out of fashion. So would you, if you bought one.

General Motors, the American Car Co already owns 20% of Fiat and Fiat is doing it's utmost to persuade GM to take the rest.

The Company won't be with us, as it is now, this time next year yet you're tempted to buy one still?

Beggars belief.
Fiat - advise someone else who's tempted - hootie
LoL Sean - I know. I am doing serious homework, you can see that, and they can't lock you up for only thinking about buying one you know ;)

It's the same kind of logic that tempts people to get a puppy, when they know it'll tear their house apart, cause astronomic vet's bills, great inconvenience to everyone - especially the parents, who'll end up walking it in the pouring rain when the kids rebel and say "in a minute", will restrict all your movements if you want to go out for the day, or the weekend, and poop on you when you're least expecting it!

People do have them, love them, and forgive them everything regardless :) Some people even end up with well behaved treasures who serve them well.

BUT FYO we haven't given in to the temptation for a puppy, so
don't panic yet :-D

Fiat - advise someone else who's tempted - blank
May or may not be representative, but a really fussy mate of mine ran one for about 60k miles and was very happy with it, bar a few rattles.

FWIW, I think they look great and are certainly one of the more stylish supermini choices, unlike the super-realiable Jap alternatives.

I think style or reliability - your choice.


ps. As a newcomer, have you checked out the excellent Car-by-car breakdown section of this site? Not too much bad to say about the PuntoII, except 12th from bottom in the Autoexpress reliability survey.
Fiat - advise someone else who's tempted - lordwoody
I've owned numerous Fiats ( unlike Sean I suspect, who's terminally biased) I currently have a Punto HGT which I bought at auction 7 months ago and apart from a sticky gear linkage (£60 to fix at independent) I've had no problems at all. This confirms my previous experience with Fiats, ie no more trouble than any other car I've owned. Suggest Sean explains why any web site that reviews current cars ( Including Honest John) never appears to share his negative opinions. I agree they may have a few niggles but so do most other cars. I've also owned numerous Saabs which certainly do have perceived value as "quality " cars and have had more expensive problems with them than i've ever had with Fiats. Fiats reputation is partly a hangover from the days when thet were terminal rustbuckets but they're all galvanised bodies now. I agree if you want the best reliability buy Japanese but I think there are other factors that some may consider just as important, such as style and fun. I agree there are cars in Fiats lineup that are bad buys new, as with most manufacturers but the Punto is a very popular car for good reasons. If you saw Sundays Top Gear test of the new Alfa 147 they all slated it objectively against the Golf ( and another which I've forgotten!) but in the end 3 presenters chose it without hesitation subjectively. Hearts should rule heads sometimes!
I've no experience recently of Fiat dealers as I use an independent but the general opinon is they're not too good, the Punto is another matter, it's a great small car, especially In HGT or Sporting trim.
Fiat - advise someone else who's tempted - sean
Yes, I am terminally biased against Italian cars and bikes.

I am a graduate engineer and am highly dissatisfied with the engineering I've seen there. You can jump in and tell me about wondrous Ferraris, with 12 cylinders and 4 valves per cylinder and I'd point out that you need to remove the engine just to change the cambelts, let alone the clutch.
I look at the size of the wires in the cable looms. About a quarter of the size of German ones. I listen to Snr.Agnelli whose company it is, admitting what I'm already thinking.

Hootie, I respect what you're doing.
I have 2 kids myself. I made all the mistakes. My wife thought it would be a great idea if she and I went to a posh Scarborough hotel and left our kids at home to run a party for my daughter's 18th birthday. It took months to rectify the damage and replace all the stolen stuff.
I invested £100,000s in my pension. Now what are pensions worth?

I bought my daughter a Micra for her first car. It needed regular maintenance (1990 model) but she wouldn't get her hands dirty.
You will understand the misery of wondering where your daughter is when she has to drive from Leeds to Southampton in an unreliable car.
She thinks she can handle anything, until it all goes horribly wrong, then she's a whimpering "puppy" again.
Who has to sort out all the mess? We do.

I bought her a Seat Arosa diesel 1.7SDi and she's had no trouble at all in the past 18 months and 25,000 miles since she got it.

I'm only a member of the Backroom to try and help. If I'm not helping I'll depart.

My experience of Italian bikes was even worse. When I had a Cagiva Canyon I had to sell it in pieces for hungry buyers needing parts. No chance of selling it complete. I even thought of taking the oxy-acetylene lance to it and claiming the insurance it was so bad.
(Highly illegal. No, we won't go there)
Fiat - advise someone else who's tempted - TrevP
May I suggest a look at the J D Power User Satisfaction survey.

available on the What Car? website (under News)

Fiat - advise someone else who's tempted - SprinterJK
If you want to look at Nissan Micras, there's a good Nissan dealership in Southborough, between Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge on the A26. Called Birchwood Nissan, and shares its space with an Esso station. We got a very cheap Micra from there, and they've provided good service.

In terms of Puntos, a friend has a two year old Punto HGT and just had a second (or maybe third) gearbox put in. It's the high power version, and he does tend to drive it quite quickly though, so possibly his fault. Apart from that, no problems.

Good Luck!
Fiat - advise someone else who's tempted - PR {P}
My mother and sister both have Puntos, have been excellent. We`re lucky in that we have a main dealer which is family run so is in the main excellent.
As for Fiat engineering, did you know they invented the common rail diesel engine? (Now fitted to every car make going?) and the Alfa 156 was the first car to have one? Not exactly a sign of poor Italian engineering!
Fiat - advise someone else who's tempted - lordwoody
Sean- you wouldn't want a Ducati then? Or a Ferrari, or a Bugatti or Lambo. or an Alfa or any other of the automotive icons from Italy? Italy has produced some of the greatest automotive design statements and still continues to do so( and I have to admit I speak from the viewpoint of a professional designer, not an engineer) For some reason Italian cars seem to produce a very pro and anti response, I think we'll just have to agree to differ!
Fiat - advise someone else who's tempted - PR {P}
Well said Lordwoody, each to his/her own. It would be a very boring place if everyone thought the same!
Fiat - advise someone else who's tempted - sean
1. I've just taken this from www.Fiat.IT technical website. Yes Fiat thought of it and developed it as far as they knew how, then passed it to the Germans ie Bosch.

From Fiat comes the Unijet, a revolutionary new system for use in direct injection diesel engines, capable of enabling the performance and comfort of diesel propulsion systems to match that of petrol engines.

The Unijet, which was included only recently on a batch of vehicles specially designated for a sample selection of consumers, will, within a few months, be fitted to Fiat Auto's new models.

This state-of-the-art system, which is suitable for engines with various numbers of cylinders, was devised within the fiat Group and is based on the principle of the "common rail" injection system.

Three Fiat Group companies were involved in the various stages of design and development: Magneti Marelli, Elasis and Centro Ricerche Fiat which, in turn, registered a number of trademarks.

The Fiat Group then sold the ownership and marketing rights to German company Robert Bosch which handled the final development and industrialisation stages of the product.

2. No I would never touch Italian stuff again. I was badly burnt with their bikes and have had colleagues close to weeping over their cars.

3. Variety is the spice. Buy what you want. If someone asks me for help I try and save them from misery.

4. Common rail is not fitted to everything. About 22% of diesel cars have it, with the rest using pumpe deuse unit injectors or high pressure rotary pumps
Fiat - advise someone else who's tempted - peterb
Sean- you wouldn't want ..... a Ferrari or
a Bugatti or Lambo or an Alfa

Yes, a Ferrari or Lamborghini would be nice. But probably* less reliable than a Porsche.

Yes an Alfa would be nice, but probably* less reliable than a BMW or Lexus.

Similarly a Fiat would probably* be less reliable than a Toyota or Nissan.

(A Bugatti would be very nice, but Bugatti are French....)

* Probably means just what it says on the tin. The fact that someone's wife/daughter/sister/brother-in-law/rabbit had an OK Punto/Bravo/Cinq just proves that SOME Fiats are reliable
Fiat - advise someone else who's tempted - Hugo {P}
..just to throw another spanner in the works..

I bought a 3 year old Regata estate from my Uncle and after a few years getting parts was becoming a nightmare. Even the Fiat dealership didn't list a distributor for it when I needed it. The car was only 6 years old for heavens sake! The only place I could get one was from the breaker's yard.

The only way I could help to ensure a ready supply of spares was to buy another one, so that's exactly what I did. It did seem a bit extreme to keep a 6 year old car going though but I only paid £25 for it.

Check this factor out as well. Don't talk to the salesmen but discuss this with the service managers at your local Fiat dealership.

Personally, if you like chic - try the Pug 206 or 207 or Citroen Saxo.

Fiat - advise someone else who's tempted - shuggie
I am not taking a pop here so please dont feel I am but i think buying a Cagiva Canyon and then basing that as a typical example of Italian bikes is hardly scientific. They were complete dogs from day one and we all pretty much knew that. I too am a professional engineer, have owned and indeed still do own Ducatis and have never had a moments bother with them either and quite frankly there is not a bike marque on the planet that i would consider replacing them with.

There are many many vehicles where engine removal is a pre requisite to change the clutch, so its a little unfair to single out FIAT in that respect. Indeed as I am sure you will agree, being a felow engineer, there is am awful lot of bad engineering examples in the car industry but there is a lot more than just technical considertaions that have to be considered when producing a car for market.

I would agree that the SEAT could be a good recomendation, I drive Skodas and would say that Hootie should look at a Fabia but perhaps her daughter may not be so keen on the image thing. In the same breath as i have stated before though, my mother has a Punto and it has been a great wee motor.
Fiat - advise someone else who's tempted - Andrew-T
hootie - I have owned a 96N 75SX and my daughter another, and she now has a 2000 HSX. I would say the Punto is quite suitable for your daughter practically and image-wise. Roomy, economical (50mpg if careful) and cheap to insure. You should easily find one with a sensible mileage and a full set of keys (essential on the earlier models). Don't go for an auto.
Fiat - advise someone else who's tempted - lordwoody
Whoops, made a mistake with the Bugatti! What I find irritating about some of the posts is the overwhelming belief that some people have, usually with no direct experience of the product, that they are right. I notice Sean didn't answer my query as to how it was possible if, as he believes, that Fiat are such rubbish products that all the car review sites I have seen give Puntos a good review? ( certainly far better than Saxos, which someone else reccomends- My father has recently bought a new model Berlingo, had 2 power steering failures in 2 months and would now never buy another Citroen) Must admit the new grille on updated Punto doesn't look too good though! Perhaps I'm taking this a bit personally, but you know what they say, two things you shouldn't criticise, a mans choice of car and wife!
The only car I've seen so far that HJ recommends not to buy is the Freelander, and I've got one of those too, so I'm a double loser! ( Got a good looking wife though!)
Fiat - advise someone else who's tempted - hootie
Been out looking again guys (and girls?) today went to that
very same Southborough Micra dealership - couldn't get a salesman for love or money (apparently there are 5) but a guy from the spares/service gave us a brochure. We sat in the showroom model and both loved it, but it was spec'd up to near enough £10k or maybe a tad more. Not in our range. No idea of second hand unless we go back and dig someone up!

In the same area tried VW - saw a second hand Lupo and Polo (both between £6-6,800k) 14-18 months - seemed to much to ask of us.

The Corsas we have seen have been dismissed.

Also looked in at a very smart Toyota dealership, where they fell over us with all kinds of help, without being pushy. Impressed and she likes the cars too - this would mean either upping the budget or going for an older car - will post a whole new thread on that issue.

Lastly did go and look at the Dhaitsu Charade brand new - about £6,300 metallic, but again if spending that kind of money would rather go for an older Yaris.

Still love the look of the Punto - it was the Sporting trim/style we picked out - ex demo, would have to go back and check all the details and price before putting it down on the short list.

Anyone want to start taking bets on what goes where? :)

Joking apart - thanks all for taking the time to comment, it's interesting to read and informative at the same time.

Fiat - advise someone else who's tempted - mlj
We have a Punto as a second car. Never goes wrong, always starts, very economical, loads of room. I saw some today on 03 plates at under £5000. How can you go wrong? We don't use Fiat dealers and would not hesitate buying another one. Serviced by friendly local independents. There may be better cars in this sector but not at these prices. I would even suggest a Stilo. I've seen base models at 6500. At this price, the risks are much reduced.
Fiat - advise someone else who's tempted - sean
Lordwoody. This is getting personal. If you like Fiats, great.
I don't and have tried to fully explain why.

I quoted Senor Agnelli's comments in the posts about his Stilo.

If they are so good, why are people, even Italians I see now, not buying them in droves?

Why are Fiat closing factories?

Why are 12,000 of their employees visiting the JobCentre, or whatever it is there?

Why do they want to flog the whole car division to GM?

For your bit about the car review sites, I don't know which ones you visited, i don't know whether they conducted statistically valid testing etc. I don't know.
Remember the "Car" magazine test of the "A" Class where they praised the roadholding, then journos tipped one over in Germany and egg all over "Car's" face.
People whose families are Fiat owners are hardly going to give unbiased opinions, are they? They might even get personal n'est-ce pas? Especially if they hope to ever sell it.
I don't have a Fiat to sell so I can try and tell people the truth, like families do, after they have sold the horrible things.
Fiat - advise someone else who's tempted - PR {P}
Thats fair enough Sean, but your reasons are a little clouded.

The reason Italians are "not buying in their droves" (Down about 3% to 29% - not quite in their droves!) is they are being undercut by cheap Asian imports from Daewoo and the like, a problem all manufacturers are having. It hits Fiat especially hard as they rely on smaller cars more than most.
The factory closures are mainly Iveco / New Holland tractors.
The 12000 job losses are mainly in Brazil (1800 in Italy)
As I read it, Fiat dont want GM to control it.

Fiat - advise someone else who's tempted - Mattster
There's a certain element of chance to buying a second-hand car and a certain element of luck with any car you buy. I owned a Ford Escort for 5 years (at the time very close to the bottom of the JD Power survey) and nothing went wrong at all. However, I recently sold an Alfa 156 (wannabe-posh Fiat) and it was a disaster. This car is also close to the bottom of the survey.

As a result, I am unlikely ever to buy a car which does not fall into the top half of the results. You can get a low-scoring car which serves well, but I guess the odds are more against it.

Like many others on this page, I'd go for the Yaris if I wanted a small car.
Fiat - advise someone else who's tempted - lordwoody
I agree it's getting personal, and the reason it's personal is, as i've already explained, that I see your vituperative attacks on Fiat as a personal attack on me. The suggestion in this and previous threads by yourself that Fiat owners are mad is obviously an insult and if I'm insulted I respond. I don't disagree with some of your points. I agree Fiats are not the most reliable car in the world, a category in which I would also put Peugeot , Citroen , TVR, Ferrari etc etc. If people only bought cars on the basis of reliability we'd all be driving round in Toyota Corollas. It is quite possibly true that German cars are better engineered than Italian ones, but that again is not the only basis for choosing a car. I agree that were I buying a new car and wanted minimal depreciation a Fiat wouldn't be first choice but neither would many other makes. I also agree that there are some Fiats where they miss the mark widely in terms of style and desirability. I do think that when Italian makers get it right they have that something extra that other car makers usually fail to capture- it's an indefinable rightness in terms of style and aesthetics. Alfa 156 is a good example, Punto another.
Fiats strength in my mind has been their small car design.
I remember holidays in Italy in the 60's and seeing Fiat 595 Abarths being driven by stylish young Italians which made Mini Coopers suddenly seem rather mundane. They had style! Today put a Punto next to a Yaris and see which is the better looking. You write as an engineer, I write as a designer, we both have our opinions and I respect yours, just don't call me mad for not agreeing with yours, cos that's a slippery slope to go down!
Fiat - advise someone else who's tempted - hootie

Don't make me feel guilty guys for putting the cat amongst the pigeons. My question was based on feeling like I explained in my last post - they way some people do about a new puppy.

Basically my daughter and I both come from a design background - she is going to art college in London in September, and after a foundation year wants to go on to do a BA design degree.
We both just love the look of the Punto, and it's based on examination not advertising.

I have been very interested to learn from your responses, but a decision has now been made taking into consideration what you have all said, and what we have been thinking ourselves.

1. Her Dad is anti Fiat - not totally explained, but that could have easily been overcome. Years ago I had an old Panda, which he suggested and sourced, and loved it so much I bought another one. We happily sold them on without pain, and I had a great time with them both - nether the old nor the new ever let me down, and as someone on the petite side myself it was so easy to drive and park wherever I wanted to squeeze in :) People turned their noses up at it, but I was hooked.

2. Times have changed now, we are more affluent and so are in a position to look around across the board - but we still have an eye for the best all round buy.

3.Daughter and I just love the style of the Punto - think it was an Active Sporting (demonstrator)We've looked at so many cars this week, the names are starting the glaze over into one.

4. At the end of the day though, we both want a car that will consistantly deliver what it promises and not let us down or give us grief. She's only 19 next month, and we don't want to take any risks. The Fiat, we feel, may be fab., but there's more chance of it being a problem than other makes.

Conclusion - as much as we'd like both a Punto and a puppy, Dad will not badgered for either (this time) ;) This time it's a triumph of substance over style :(

PS Saw her chatting on msn to a boyfriend last night. His parents bought him a new Punto for his 17th, and for whatever reason his comments were "I'd gladly give it to you in exchange for a kiss on the cheek and a nice day out - I WANT A TOYOTA".
Not sure of his problems, but if a 17 year old wants a Toyota maybe they're gaining some street cred after all.

Solution - Toyota should be developing something with as much style as the Punto - now there's a challenge for them!!!

Further comment on style - I have a Honda CRV as I've said and the only thing that ever put me off it, is that they are consistently driven by 'old fogies' - younger, hipper folk go for Discoveries or the like. Mr H suggested a Discovery to me, but after looking at it, driving it and thinking about it, I stuck to my guns and have never been disappointed. Maybe our family will start a new trend? anti style becomes stylish after all LOL
Fiat - advise someone else who's tempted - Andrew-T
The problem with 'statistical surveys' is that they may or may not be meaningful. But any new owner will only buy one car (usually) which may or may not be typical, and therefore a good or a bad example. There will always be a risk, and you will buy on some sort of trust. Whether you pay a lot or a little doesn't make a bad gamble much pleasanter.
Fiat - advise someone else who's tempted - NorthernKev {P}
Buy a Punto, if it goes wrong; forgive it. I've got the old shape one, and even with a dint in it looks better than any similar car. Parked next to anything else it still looks right.
Also it sounds different everytime I drive it, not that's character!

Fiat - advise someone else who's tempted - hootie
Just to let you know that the young man in question who is dissatisfied with his parents' gift of a Punto, is only upset because it doesn't go as fast as his mates' cars!

Fiat - advise someone else who's tempted - Mark (RLBS)
Fiat - advise someone else who's tempted - burners
Well I have taken the Plunge And bought a new Punto Active. Got it for under 6K with power steering, Dual Air Bags, Elec Windows, CD Player, Metallic Paint Etc, Think its a superb little car for the money, I guess time will tell on the Reliability front.

Build quality seems to be as good as a new 206 I bought 3 years ago. Overall the cars not quite as good as a 206 particularly suspension wise but then the 206 cost 3K more.
Fiat - advise someone else who's tempted - PR {P}
Congrats! I hope it brings you many miles of happy motoring!

Value my car