TURIN - Fiat Auto will launch its facelifted Punto across most of Europe starting this month.
The main difference is a new 16-valve engine and a slightly lower price.
The 1.2-liter, 86ps, FIRE engine replaces the old 1.6-liter, eight-valve unit offered on the Punto 90 and Punto Sporting. The new engine debuted on the Lancia Y in April. Eight-valve FIRE engines will power the 60 and 75 models.
The exterior styling is unchanged, except for redesigned alloy wheels and wheel covers. Some upmarket versions will have painted door handles. There are eight new body colors.
The interior has improved seat trim, map nets behind the front seats and new materials.
Because of reduced manufacturing costs and rationalization of the trim levels, the average Punto is 0.7 percent cheaper in Italy. UK prices will rise by around 2 percent. This is because Punto prices did not rise in March 1996 when Fiat raised prices for its other models in the UK .
Fiat aims to sell around 700,000 Puntos this year, compared with 660,000 in 1996.
The Punto was Europe's best selling model in the first quarter of 1997. Fiat sold 166,000 units - 24,000 more than the VW Golf.