02.06.2005 Twelve years after production of the Fiat Punto began, the 6,000,000TH model has now rolled out of the Melfi factory

The 6,000,000th Fiat Punto model has rolled off the production lines. This achievement was made possible by the work of the three Fiat plants where the model is built: the SATA facility in Melfi near Potenza, Turin’s Mirafiori complex, and the Termini Imerese factory in the province of Palermo.

The event was celebrated today at Melfi, one of Europe’s most modern factories, which not only produced the six millionth Fiat Punto, but also made a decisive contribution to the accomplishment by turning out half of the total number of cars.

The Fiat Punto is still the most popular model in Italy, and has topped the sales charts for over ten years. The first Punto rolled off the assembly line at Mirafiori in July 1993. Production got under way at Melfi in September of the same year, and Termini Imerese in December. In 1999, all three plants began to build the new version of the Punto.

The Melfi plant currently produces both the Fiat Punto and the Lancia Ypsilon, and employs around five thousand people. In addition, the SATA facility has been tapped to become the only site that will construct the future successor to the Punto, which will continue to be produced at Mirafiori until the end of 2006.

The Fiat Punto was designed to satisfy every need. The current line-up, in fact, offers 40 different choices: three- and five-door versions, eight engine options (1.2-liter 8-valve, 1.2-liter 16-valve, 1.4-liter 16-valve, 1.8-liter 16-valve, 1.3 Multijet, 1.9 Multijet, 1.9 JTD, 1.2-liter 8-valve gasoline and diesel units); two manual transmissions with either five or six speeds, the Speedgear automatic/sequential manual transmission, the Dualogic transmission that combines automatic and sequential shifting, and can also be operated as a full automatic in "Economy" mode; eight trim levels (Actual, Active, Sound, Dynamic, Class, Emotion, Sporting, and HGT); and 13 body colors, each available with two different interior outfits. In addition to this wide range, the Punto is also available in a van version with three different powerplants (1.2-liter 8-valve, 1.3-liter Multijet and 1.9-liter JTD) and three- or five-door body styles.

The new owner of the six millionth Punto is Francesco D’Ariano, resident in Canosa di Puglia near Bari and an employee at the Melfi plant, who chose a steel grey Dynamic version with five doors and gasoline engine. The keys to the car that marked this historic accomplishment were handed over by Massimo Risi, head of the SATA plant.


The Fiat Punto was presented in November 1993 to replace the Uno. Giugiaro designed two bodystyles for Fiat, a three door and a five door hatchback (the Cabrio came later), and its fresh design contributed to it being voted European Car of the Year in 1995. It was also aerodynamically very efficient, with a drag factor of just 0.31. A completely new car, significant improvements were made over the old Uno in many areas, in terms of functionality the much praised class-leading interior space was one of the most important.

Mechanically the car was really an evolution of the Uno, with similar solutions being applied to most areas, the one major new development was the rear suspension, which followed the independent layout of the Tipo. In terms of safety, the new Punto featured a structure designed to meet much more stringent crash tests including side impact protection, dual front airbags (optional on some models), various fire protection systems such as a fuel cut-off valve, anti-submarining seats, seatbelt pretensioners, energy absorbing steering wheel and of course ABS (optional on some models).

The engines were basically the same as in other models, though improved in numerous minor details. These comprised 1108cc FIRE (54bhp), 1242cc FIRE (58bhp with single-point fuel injection or 73bhp with multi-point fuel injection), 1581cc sohc (88bhp), 1372cc turbo (136bhp) and 1698cc diesels (71bhp turbocharged and from 1994 57bhp normally aspirated) units.

Corrosion protection was another area of the new Punto which saw many steps forward from the Uno. Over 60% (by weight) of the bodyshell is galvanised, the majority on both sides, including 90% of the exterior surface. Long and severe testing was designed to finally change the poor reputation some Italian cars had in this area. To produce the Punto Fiat built a new, highly automated and fully integrated factory near Naples in the south of Italy, at Melfi. With a large number of major suppliers co-located, it was one of the most efficient car factories in Europe at the time of its construction. The Punto was also produced in smaller numbers at Mirafiori and Termini Imerese in Sicily.

Apart from the standard models there was also the 'Selecta', fitted with a CVT, using the 1242cc unit (in this application with 60bhp) and the Cabrio.

The first series of the Fiat Punto included a Cabrio version (top), the second series spawned an aggressive-looking 1.2-litre 16v 'Sporting' version (middle), while the final facelifted evolution was  introduced  two  years  ago  (above)


The owner of the 6,000,000th Punto is Francesco D’Ariano, resident in Canosa di Puglia near Bari and an employee at the Melfi plant, who chose a 5-dr steel grey Dynamic version


The keys to the 6,000,000th Fiat Punto were handed over in a ceremony by Massimo Risi, head of the SATA  plant  in  Melfi

The Cabrio was designed by Giugiaro and built by Bertone. Available with either the 1242cc or 1581cc engine, it featured a reinforced structure, including an anti-roll bar built into the windscreen pillars. Shortly after the initial launch, in May 1995, the Punto Sporting was released. This also used the 1581cc unit, but with lower gearing. Some extra body trim, alloy wheels, internal trim changes and suspension changes similar to those used on the GT (1372cc turbo) model were also applied, the result being a car with heightened driver appeal.

1997 saw the replacement of the 1581cc engine in both the Sporting and the Cabriolet by a 1242cc 16V FIRE engine with 86bhp. Numerous other changes were made to most models, including power steering, air conditioning, new interior trims and external colours, revised suspension settings, improved soundproofing, new wheels and various detail modications.

The 'Nuova Punto' was introduced on the 100th anniversary of the Fiat company in the summer of 1999. Although actually a mid-life update of the old Punto, most of the car is new (80% of parts are new), including an all new exterior design and new rear suspension (torsion beam). Class leading interior space and passive safety (the car received an excellent four stars in the Euro NCAP test) were praised by the press.

Available with three or five doors, and a range of engines comprising a 1242cc 8V with 60bhp, 1242cc 16V with 80bhp, 1910cc diesel with 60bhp, 1910cc JTD diesel with 85bhp (previously 80bhp) and at the top, the 1747cc 16V with 130bhp. This latter unit is the same as that in the Barchetta and Coupé. A special mention is deserved by the Sporting, which uses the 1.2 16v engine coupled to a six-speed manual gearbox. This model also features a stiffer suspension and an aggressive bodykit, and really follows the character of sportier small Fiats, being a genuine 'put a smile on your face car' without being seriously fast.

The three and five door cars are slightly differently styled, the five door having a more aggressive appearance especially from the front. All cars come with a drivers airbag and options include passenger and side airbags (standard in some markets). Other new features are the electronic power steering (with two levels of assistance selectable by the driver) and 'follow-me-home' headlights which stay on for a predetermined time after you lock the car. The HGT also features as standard a satellite navigation system, ABS and traction control. Transmissions include a five speed manual, a six speed manual and a CVT ('Speedgear'). This latter can be used in the fully automatic mode, or as a sequential shift, with either six or seven preset ratios (depending on model). The Punto proved to be a popular car and its mass appeal has led it to being the best-selling car in Europe for some years, whilst in early 2003 the 5,000,000th Punto was produced.

In May 2003 a heavily revised Punto was released, the third incarnation of the best-selling car. Significant changes to the appearance were joined by new engines and content. The whole front end was new, including the bonnet, lights, bumper, wings grill etc, whilst at the rear the bumper changed and some other detail changes made including the adoption of the round Fiat badge and additional reflectors on the three door car. Whereas the previous car had differentiated between three and five door versions visually (with different front and rear bumpers), the new car features a front end which is different for the sportier versions, the Sound (or Active Sport) Sporting and HGT, with all the other (both three and five door) using the same bumpers.

Under the bonnet the same 1.2 8v (60bhp) and 16v (80bhp) engines together with the 1.8 16v (130bhp) and 1.9 JTD (85bhp) continue, but they were joined by three new units. A 1.4-litre development of the FIRE engine with 95bhp is now available (fitted to the new Sporting version), and a 1.9 MultiJet JTD with 100bhp is also offered, derived from the earlier engine. Completely new was the award winning 1.3 16v MultiJet with 70bhp, claimed to be the smallest, most compact diesel, incorporating all the latest technology such as common-rail, dohc, 16v, EGR-cooling, turbocharging etc.

Other significant additions to the model included a new transmission known as Dualogic. This is a Selespeed-like unit, being a manual gearbox controlled by hydraulic actuators, in turn controlled via a sequential shift with a fully-automatic mode available. A dual-zone climate control was new in the segment and added to the comfort and ease of use, as did the rain and parking sensors.

Safety had also been taken care of with ESP, MSR and various other electronic aids being added to the various versions, as well as up to six airbags being available. Novelties included a "hill-holder" which keeps the brakes on for 2 seconds if the car is in first gear and a sensor decides that it is on an incline - designed to make for perfect hill starts every time. New colours, interior trims and various changes including the instrumentation and wheels complete a comprehensive makeover for the best-selling Fiat.

This year saw a further and final revision of the Punto arrive, affecting only the interiors. Various new interior trims and colours were introduced, as well as a couple of new exterior finishes.

Fiat Punto history courtesy: www.CarsFromItaly.com

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