Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0

The entry-level engine in the Grande Punto is the 1.2-litre which boasts a modest 65bhp. It's quite lively but does need to be worked quite hard out of town. The 1.4-litre is better and comes in two outputs of 77bhp or 95bhp - the latter offers enough performance for most. At the end of 2007 a new 1.4-litre T-Jet engine was introduced which uses a turbocharger to produce an impressive 120bhp.

It's got plenty of pulling power too and is a great engine to use with barely any turbo lag while acceleration doesn’t drop off - even when you near the red line. With a 0-60mph time of 8.9 seconds it's not quite a hot hatch but is still a gem of an engine and economical too, returning 43mpg. The diesel line-up is equally strong as the Fiat uses the acclaimed MultiJet engines.

There's a 1.3-litre version which is available in two outputs of 75bhp and 90bhp and both are pokey enough for most. For a bit more pace however there's the excellent 120bhp 1.9-litre MultiJet which is our pick of the range combining punchy in-gear pace and 50mpg economy.

There are more agile small hatchbacks around but thanks to precise turn-in and a well balanced chassis, the Fiat remains composed in corners and feels surefooted, helped by its grippy tyres. It rides fairly well but the Sporting models are a little too firm and over uneven surfaces the ride suffers. This doesn’t prevent it from being entertaining on country lanes and, thanks to its raspy exhaust note, it’s an enjoyable experience.

The Grande Punto also features a 'city' button to provide extra light steering at parking speeds, but the function is overridden automatically above 19mph.