Changing a successful design is always going to be risky, so the best path is one of evolution rather than revolution, maintaining the bold style of the original. This is exactly what the Punto Evo has done, building on instead of radically redefining the character of the Grande Punto launched by Fiat in September 2005. In reality, however, the changes go much deeper than immediately meets the eye, as you discover the moment you open the doors to reveal an interior that has been completely redesigned from the dash to the door panels and the seats.
This is a somewhat unusual approach, as car interiors generally receive little more than a couple of new mouldings and trim details in a facelift. “This was a labour of love for the car”, says Roberto Giolito, design director for the Fiat brand. “The Grande Punto is a much loved model by the public and is very important for the company. Together with the Panda and the 500, it forms a trinity of products that perform solidly in terms of sales and customer satisfaction, and it constitutes a link between these two compact models and the Bravo.”
The basic concept behind the Punto Evo can be summed up as a patch downloaded from the web containing a set of upgrades to optimise the entire system. In this case, the upgrades evolving the Grande Punto into the Punto Evo involve the interior, part of the exterior and, naturally, performance and safety. This is because, as Fiat Group design vice president Lorenzo Ramaciotti notes, the automotive world has not been standing still for the past four years: “The Grande Punto was the first in a generation of B segment cars to exceed 4 metres in length and to express themselves in more dynamic terms, with cues citing the Italian coupé and even a certain element of Maserati heritage in the physiognomy of the front. Cars such as the Opel Corsa, Peugeot 207, Renault Clio and Ford Fiesta offered interpretations of this theme that were more structured and more detailed in terms of design, which were targeted at a more generic clientele and less overtly sporty. With the Punto Evo, we are now playing on the same field as our rivals.”
The article continues in Auto & Design no. 179