Everyday Heroes ep.2 "The Answer" #EverydayHeroes

It’s 1993, and you are walking around the Frankfurt Auto show. After some time, you come around the Fiat stand. Here, you can see a small, sleek and very 90’s-styled car

Between the 70’s and the 80’s the small hatchback market was on fire, and Fiat rode the wave with cars like the 127 and, later, the Uno (which was still produced in Brazil untill 2013, but this last one was getting older, so Fiat decided to replace it with a new car that incapsulated all the new safety and style that people (especially the younger demographics) wanted. So the Fiat “Progetto 176” was born.

One of the first Fiat 176 prototypes. From this photo you can clearly identify wich car it is
One of the first Fiat 176 prototypes. From this photo you can clearly identify wich car it is

Fiat asked Giorgetto Giugiaro’s Italdesign (who already worked with them for cars like the Uno, the Croma and the best Italian car ever, the Panda) to design the new car. He went full sleek with a grill-less nose, a fully bubble-like shape and other design elements that were present in basically every 90’s car but that were totally opposite to what Fiat had in their lineup untill then

On the left the production model, on the right the prototype. We will find similar taillights in a bit
On the left the production model, on the right the prototype. We will find similar taillights in a bit

For this new car, the Italian automaker choose a simple yet meaningful name: Punto. The Italian word for “dot” was chosen to represents the fact that Fiat cut all the connections with the past for this car, creating a fully-new product.

A new Star is born

Everyday Heroes ep.2 "The Answer"  #EverydayHeroes - Italian Cars

At it’s launch, the Punto had a 3-door or 5-door configuration, with 14 colours and 31 trim options (of which the higher was the ELX). The engine choiche was pretty big too, with powertrains going from a 1.1L i4 to a 1.6L i4 for petrol cars and a 1.7L in both NA and turbo options for diesel cars. It even had an high-performance petrol version with a turbo, of which I’ll talk more specifically in a minute

Everyday Heroes ep.2 "The Answer"  #EverydayHeroes - Italian Cars

In 1994 Fiat went all over it, offering a Bertone-designed Punto, with a power range between 55 and 60hp

Honor to the merit

Everyday Heroes ep.2 "The Answer"  #EverydayHeroes - Italian Cars

Fiat had already passed the best expectations, selling over 1.5 millions Puntos in its first 2 years, but things were getting better for the small hatchabck because, in 1995, it won the European Car Of The Year award, beating the Volkswagen Polo for 78 points, giving Fiat his 6th prize (since then, Fiat has won 3 more COTY awards thanks to the Bravo in 1996, the Almighty Panda in 2004 and the cute 500 in 2008). In that same period, the Punto was leading both the Italian and european car market, like its predecessor before, the Uno and even won the “Compasso D’Oro” prize for the best design

Everyday Heroes ep.2 "The Answer"  #EverydayHeroes - Italian Cars

Since things are going so good for our little everyday hero, it’s finally time to talk about the most interesting variant of the original Punto, the sporty GT. The GT used a 1.4L turbocharged inline-4 derived from the now legendary Fiat Uno Turbo i.e., that thanks to a IHI VL7 turbocharger, an intercooler and electronic multi-point fuel injection reached 133hp, which didn’t sound like a lot, but were enough to pull the small hot hatch from 0 to 100 km/h in 7.9s and to a top speed of 205 km/h. In a very short time, the Punto GT became a tuners’ dream (like the Uno Turbo before), so much so that it got the nickname “la Bara” (“the Coffin”), because, like with the Uno Turbo before, lots of young Italian drivers tuned them to absurdly high power levels, so much so that lots of these young drivers crashed the car and, sometimes, died with her. This makes the Punto GT a mythical car, thing that helps to increase his resell value, especially for well-maintained bone-stock examples.
The GT kept itself in the Punto lineup untill the first-gen was discontinued in 1999, even though from 1997 it lost 3hp thanks to emission restrictions.
All the GTs were based on the high-spec ELX trim, but with specific seats, rims and brakes (the GT had all-around discs)
They were programming even an Abarth-tuned version with even more power, but they were never able to produce it
If you want a very good review of the Punto GT, go check this Davide Cironi video

Everyday Heroes ep.2 "The Answer"  #EverydayHeroes - Italian Cars

In 1997 the entire Punto lineup got an update, with new plastics in the interior, new engines like the 1.2L FIRE 8v also used in the Lancia Y and some new trims, like the Sporting which had an 85hp 16v 1.2L.
at the end of 1997, the Punto lineup looked like this:
for the 3-door:
55 S/SX/6 Speed (1108 cm³, 54 CV, 150 km/h) (yes, you read that right, 6 speeds on a Punto)
60 S/SX (1242 cm³, 60 CV, 160 km/h)
60 Selecta (1242 cm³, 60 CV, 150 km/h) (Selecta was the CVT automatic Punto, for all that extra luxury)
75 SX/ELX (1242 cm³, 73 CV, 170 km/h)
85 16v ELX/Sporting (1242 cm³, 86 CV, 177 km/h)
GT (1372 cm³, 130 CV, 200 km/h)
TD 60 S/SX (1698 cm³, 63 CV, 155 km/h) (TD stands for TurboDiesel)
TD 70 SX/ELX (1698 cm³, 69 CV, 163 km/h)
for the 5-door
55 S/SX (1108 cm³, 54 CV, 150 km/h)
60 S/SX (1242 cm³, 60 CV, 160 km/h)
60 Selecta (1242 cm³, 60 CV, 150 km/h)
75 SX/ELX (1242 cm³, 73 CV, 170 km/h)
85 16v ELX (1242 cm³, 86 CV, 177 km/h)
TD 60 S/SX (1698 cm³, 63 CV, 155 km/h)
TD 70 SX/ELX (1698 cm³, 69 CV, 163 km/h)
for the Cabrio
60 S (1242 cm³, 60 CV, 150 km/h)
85 16v ELX (1242 cm³, 86 CV, 177 km/h)
90 ELX (1581 cm³, 88 CV, 170 km/h)
In 1998, the lineup got another update where the Sole trim took the place of the low-spec S, the Star took the place of the medium-spec SX and the Stile of the high-trim ELX, so we got:
for the 3-door:
55 Sole/6 Speed (1108 cm³, 54 CV, 150 km/h)
60 Sole/Star (1242 cm³, 60 CV, 160 km/h)
60 Selecta (1242 cm³, 60 CV, 150 km/h)
75 Stile (1242 cm³, 73 CV, 170 km/h)
85 16v Stile/Sporting (1242 cm³, 86 CV, 177 km/h)
GT (1372 cm³, 130 CV, 200 km/h)
TD 60 Sole/Star (1698 cm³, 63 CV, 155 km/h)
TD 70 Stile (1698 cm³, 68 CV, 163 km/h)
for the 5-door:
55 Sole (1108 cm³, 54 CV, 150 km/h)
60 Sole/Star (1242 cm³, 60 CV, 160 km/h)
60 Selecta (1242 cm³, 60 CV, 150 km/h)
75 Stile (1242 cm³, 73 CV, 170 km/h)
85 16v Stile (1242 cm³, 86 CV, 177 km/h)
TD 60 Sole/Star (1698 cm³, 63 CV, 155 km/h)
TD 70 Stile/ELX (1698 cm³, 68 CV, 163 km/h)
for the Cabrio:
60 Sole (1242 cm³, 60 CV, 150 km/h)
85 16v Stile (1242 cm³, 86 CV, 177 km/h)
They even made a Punto ED (Economical Drive) with the standard 1.1L and a 5-speed gearbox tuned for high-efficiency
Finally in 1999, Fiat replaced the original Punto with the 2nd generation

A new era

Everyday Heroes ep.2 "The Answer"  #EverydayHeroes - Italian Cars

The new Punto (Progetto 188) took life in 1999, and was a totally new car than its predecessor:
it used the new “Pianale B” chassis; it had new engines, like the 1.9L JTD common-rail diesel engine developed by Alfa Romeo; the design was fully in-house Fiat and the structure was so well-engineered that the 2nd-gen Punto was the first compact hatchback to get a 4-stars rating from EuroNCAP.
It was so good and new that the at-the-time President of Fiat, Gianni Agnelli said that “the Punto wasn’t born in 3 years, but it was the synthesis of a century of work” (you need to remember that that year Fiat celebrated it’s 100-years anniversary)
With this car, Fiat tried to push as much as possible the new 1.2L FIRE, in both 8 amd 16 valves configurations, arriving at the point where they only put this engine in the lower trims, like the Base and the SX (later renamed the EL). The ELX trim wasn’t the highest trim anymore, because now there was the HLX. This time too Fiat offered a sportier version called the HGT (High Gran Turismo) and a less sportier version called the Sporting.

Everyday Heroes ep.2 "The Answer"  #EverydayHeroes - Italian Cars

The Punto HGT used a 1.7L NA engine (also found in the Barchetta), which had 130hp. In 2000 the HGT got the Abarth treatment, which didn’t increase power or useful stuff like that, but added aerodynamic stuff like a slightly more aggressive bodykit. Funnily enough, both the standard HGT and the Abarth versions had the exact same performance as a 1999 Punto GT, with the 0 to 100 covered in 8.2s and a top speed of 205 km/h. The HGT Abarth was cancelled with the introduction of the facelift in 2003

Everyday Heroes ep.2 "The Answer"  #EverydayHeroes - Italian Cars

The basic gearbox is a good ol’ 5-speed manual, you could also get a CVT transmission called Speedgear, and both a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed automatic on the Sporting. This Punto was also the first small European car to get an electric power steering called Dualdrive, which had 2 modes: Normal for… normal driving and City, where the steering wheel got lighter for better maneuverability in a city environment, a feature that is still standard on every small Fiat to this day. The thing even got a Van version (like the Panda and the Seicento), where the rear seats were removed and there was a metal grille dividing the passenger area from the cargo compartment

Everyday Heroes ep.2 "The Answer"  #EverydayHeroes - Italian Cars

In 2003, the Punto got a facelift (Progetto 188FL), even though the pre-facelift one was kept on sale untill 2005. This time the Punto got a grille, different headlights and taillights and some different stuff in the inside, but the juicy stuff were the engines, with the add of the new 1.4L FIRE 16v with 95hp (with the Sporting version) and a all-new 1.3L MultiJet diesel engine, which is probably the best engine ver made by Fiat, a small 8-vaved NA diesel with 69hp and a rock-solid reputation for being cheap to run, cheap to maintain, easy tunable and very reliable. The MultiJet treatment was also added to the 1.9JTD, that now puts out 101hp. All the variants got ABS, and was even introduced a CNG-powered variant called the “Natural Power”, powered by the same 1.2L FIRE, this time with a face-melting 52hp. They changed again the names of the trims, so now the base model was the Actual, then there was the Active, than the Dynamic, than the Emotion and last but definitely not least the Sporting

In the rear you can see the totally-different taillights of the FaceLift
In the rear you can see the totally-different taillights of the FaceLift
Everyday Heroes ep.2 "The Answer"  #EverydayHeroes - Italian Cars

The “188” Punto got another minor facelift in 2007 while its successor was already on the market, when it got the name “Classic”. The engine chiche was now limited to the 1.2L petrol, the 1.2L CNG “Natural Power” and the 1.3 MultiJet. It was finally discontinued in 2010.
This generation of the Punto was made mainly in Serbia, in the old and infamous Zastava plants. The Punto was so popular here that Fiat decided to produce the Zastava Z10 from 2005 to 2008. The Z10 was just a Punto with a Zastava badge in front. In 2009, Serbia also got the Punto Classic, which is still manufactured and sold new today here. They totally sold 3.1 million units

Time to go "big"

Everyday Heroes ep.2 "The Answer"  #EverydayHeroes - Italian Cars

The 3rd generation of the Punto (Progetto 199) was launched in September of 2005, but it wasn’t only a Punto, indeed everyone knows this car as the “Grande Punto” (Italian for “Big Dot”), to distinguish it from the regular Punto, which was still sold new at the time. This new car shared its platform with the Opel Corsa C, because Fiat at the time was basically failing miserably and so GM was going to buy it, but this is history for another day.
The launch’s press conference was held in Mirafiori, the historical Fiat production plant in Turin, with celebrities like Luca Cordero Di Montezemolo (Fiat’s President at the time), Sergio Marchionne, the entire Agnelli and Elkan families and F1 drivers Rubens Barrichello and MIchael Shumacher. From the start,the Grande Punto was a global car, indeed it found good selling numbers in England, Germany, Australia, New Zealand (where the Fiat brand was absent for years) and India, where it was still produced untill 2018.

Everyday Heroes ep.2 "The Answer"  #EverydayHeroes - Italian Cars

This time, the design was back again in Giugiaro’s hands, who dressed a project so good that, when it first came out, it got 5 stars at EuroNCAP crash tests and prizes from various car magazines.
Thanks to the SCCS chassis (developed with GM), The Grande Punto had front McPherson struts suspensions and torsion bar in the back and vented disc brakes in front.
The Grande Punto had ABS, ESP, traction control and emergency braking.
The body was offered in 3 or 5 door hatchback or van configurations. The trim names were the same as the 188FL Punto, and in 2007 it got an upgrade where all the trims had ESP. The engine choice was basically the same as any other Fiat car, ranging from a 1.2L petrol, to a 1.4l petrol, to a CNG-powered or LPG-powered 1.4, arriving into the land of diesel-powered 1.3, 1.6 and 1.9 MultiJet engines. This Punto even got a 1.4 16v turbo verison with 120hp. If you think this is the best, wait and see…
Fiat even produced a cheaper version of the Grande Punto for markets like Brazil or India called “Punto 310”

Everyday Heroes ep.2 "The Answer"  #EverydayHeroes - Italian Cars

In some markets Fiat even sold a sedan version of the Grande Punto, called the Linea (“Line” in Italian… it seems that Fiat has a nice sense of humor right here)

Everyday Heroes ep.2 "The Answer"  #EverydayHeroes - Italian Cars

When I told you about intresting stuff before, I was referring to this, the Abarth Grande Punto, built in Melfi, Basilicata from 2007 to 2010. This time the car recieved the full treatment from the tuning house: a 1.4L T-Jet tuned engine with 155hp for the “standard” one and 180hp for the “EsseEsse” high performance version. Even in the standard form.the Abarth Grande Punto was capable of a 0-100 time of 7.8s and a top speed of 215km/h. It had 20% stiffer suspensions, new alluminum-made rims, better brakes, exhaust system and aerodynamic bits. One of the best parts of this little thing is that you could buy the standard car, and then add the “EsseEsse” package thanks to the “Kit di elaborazione Abarth”, and it sounded awesome, like every other car with the Scorpion logo

Everyday Heroes ep.2 "The Answer"  #EverydayHeroes - Italian Cars

The EVO

Everyday Heroes ep.2 "The Answer"  #EverydayHeroes - Italian Cars

In 2009, Fiat unveiled the Punto EVO at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The changes were both in the interior and in the exterior. the 220mln Euros invested by Fiat in this project were well repayed, indeed the Punto EVO is the best-selling Fiat of all time, with over 6 million units sold from 2009 to 2012, when it was replaced by the new Punto

But, even the best things have to end, so happened to the Grande Punto, which got replaced by the Punto EVO in 2009

Everyday Heroes ep.2 "The Answer"  #EverydayHeroes - Italian Cars

As the name suggests, it was more of an evolution of the Grande Punto than a complete revolution, even the engines were basically the same,except for an updated MultiJet and a totally-new engine, the 1.4L Multiair, that get Stop&Start technology.

With the EVO, Fiat updated the Abarth too, but only in the interior/exterior, so here you have the Abarth Punto EVO

Everyday Heroes ep.2 "The Answer"  #EverydayHeroes - Italian Cars
Everyday Heroes ep.2 "The Answer"  #EverydayHeroes - Italian Cars

The best Abarth Punto EVO was the Supersport, which was basically an “EsseEsse” with a different bodykit, rims and graphics. In 2014, all the Abarth-tuned Puntos were discontinued

The last of a legacy

Everyday Heroes ep.2 "The Answer"  #EverydayHeroes - Italian Cars

In 2012, the Punto EVO was replaced by the new Punto, even though both of them are technically a restyling of the Grande Punto.
The new Punto got a new engine,the controversial TwinAir 2-cylinder turbo. In 2016, knowing that the fate of the Punto is scripted, Fiat dediced to omologate for the new Euro6 anti-pollution normatives only the 1.4L CNG “Natural Power” and the 1.4L LPG “EasyPower”, the 1.2L petrol and the 1.3L MultiJet diesel. In 2017, the trim choice was reduced to only the mid-level Street, untill the end arrived in 2018, when the last Punto rolled out of the Melfi plant, after over 5 millions sold from 2012.

So, in its 24 years history, the humble little Punto proved itself as a defining brick of Italian car culture and not in the last years. It has definitely being “the Answer” that Fiat gave to the people who were searching for a good, small, cheap, reliable car. Thank you Punto!

Everyday Heroes ep.2 "The Answer"  #EverydayHeroes - Italian Cars

Intresting Stuff

Say hi to Mr.Dot
Say hi to Mr.Dot

This right here is Mr. Dot, the “mascot” of the Grande Punto, a P with a dot on in that represents a person driving

The racing Puntos

Everyday Heroes ep.2 "The Answer"  #EverydayHeroes - Italian Cars

The first official racing Punto was the “Super 1600”, and it was the try from Fiat in 1999 to resurrect the Abarth brand after years of absence. The car was based on the 188FL-shape Punto HGT, but with the engine reduced to 1.6L and 215hp, a 6-speed sequential gearbox, FWD and a full rally bodykit

Everyday Heroes ep.2 "The Answer"  #EverydayHeroes - Italian Cars

In 2006, that Punto was replaced by the Abarth Grande Punto S2000, which, as the name suggests, has a 2.0L turbocharged engine that puts out 270hp. This time, the car was fitted with AWD, even though it used the same gearbox as its predecessor. The official team retired his cars in 2010.

Special Puntos

Everyday Heroes ep.2 "The Answer"  #EverydayHeroes - Italian Cars

Some people decided to made special versions of the humble Punto, this is why we got cars like the Bertone Punto Racer, which was like an hardtop version of the Cabrio with more power.

Everyday Heroes ep.2 "The Answer"  #EverydayHeroes - Italian Cars

Even Giannini decided to do something special to the Punto, with his Drago (based on the Punto GT)

Everyday Heroes ep.2 "The Answer"  #EverydayHeroes - Italian Cars

The power was bumped up to 158hp, and the top speed was incremented to 252km/h

The Punto in racing games

Everyday Heroes ep.2 "The Answer"  #EverydayHeroes - Italian Cars

Even though you probably didn’t notice it, the Punto was and is present in various racing games, like Gran Turismo 2,4,5, PSP and 6 in various forms, Sega GT, WRC Rally Evolved, WRC2, the Forza Motorsport games like FM3,4 and 6 and even Forza Horizon 2

Everyday Heroes ep.2 "The Answer"  #EverydayHeroes - Italian Cars
Everyday Heroes ep.2 "The Answer"  #EverydayHeroes - Italian Cars

Gallery

Everyday Heroes ep.2 "The Answer"  #EverydayHeroes - Italian Cars

Really hoped you enjoyed this journey into the history of an Everyday Hero. I’m very sorry for the unexcistent upload schedule, but these weeks I had a lot of work to do for school and I wasn’t really motivated to do it. Ep.3 will be out with a somehow decent schedule. Have a good day!

Credits: FCA Heritage, Wikipedia, Italdesign, Davide Cironi