i felt overwhelmed to see you are going for punto with conscious mind.if it is 90hp then even further !!
me too was in same dilemma regarding ass
but hoping that there wont be such major issues with parts in the long run.
as you have already td the punto 90 hp, at least for you conviction let me put my honest words. these are my own feelings so highly subjective.
the first gear is not at all useless rather it is great boon while one is stuck on steep road or on steeper side of bump. believe me the car wont shut off (it never did with me yet) - a wise decision from fiat for india.
while most of other cars struggle with not so much torquey first gear. i often see the car in front stuck at railway crossings steep gate entries but never with punto.
today i was in city for whole day around 75kms total i did not feel tired or bored- thanks to great acc,heartfelt steering and good torque.
only for this thread today i did a 0-100 dash in my punto with my brother. twice it gave 15.3/15.2 secs approx in mobile with two person, just a casual sh road. the car is not sluggish as we may think, it have a tremendous of pull beyond 2100 rpm but, is uniform and very linear so if one utilise it in third gear or fourth it becomes highly desirable. but that i believe is coded through ecu program so if somebody is ready to fiddle with it, then there is plethora of options.
this car from fiat has very different kind of attitude which looks very awkward and weird in beginning but after getting used to it ,the feeling comes that we were very very wrong at first place.
mine is clocking at 2900km and it is becoming a different car altogether. especially the sound which is getting muted with that throaty grunt. the typical diesal clatter is fading, making punto more and more addictive to be driven.
end of the day i would like to recall that european cars and japanese cars have lot of dissimilarities in every respect but incidently italian cars remain alone in one court against rest of the european and east asian cars.
ps: i have come to a point where i am being forced to believe fiat engineers were not just dumbs or idiot to ignore those sudden pickups but i feel they proved more intelligent to provide better useable car.