WITH fuel prices threatening to go ever skywards more and more people are thinking about buying diesel-powered cars to ensure they get more miles per gallon.
And you don't get many more miles per gallon from a modern supermini than with Fiat's new Punto 1.3-litre Multijet.
Not once during a week's motoring did the fuel consumption ever drop below 62mpg and I finished the week with an average of 62.9. Now you don't get much better than that.
But there is more to this engine than miles per gallon. For despite its meagre size this is one small diesel that provides spirited motoring.
It might be the smallest diesel engine ever put into a mass production car but it has impressive mid-range power, giving a very definite sporting feeling to the car.
On paper it will hit 62 miles per hour in 13.4 seconds, but these figures are deceptive as the car's true forte is in mid range performance.
The Punto has been one of Fiat's best sellers ever, but the latest model is definitely the sharpest looking.
A re-designed front, high level rear lights and stylish wheels make it a very trendy car which is offered with a wide engine and trim choice.
My Dynamic - middle of the range - model came with a good range of standard features including air conditioning, CD player, twin airbags and on-board computer.
Inside it is stylish, with its two tone dashboard giving a particularly youthful look. There are adequate nooks and crannies for storage, although the glovebox is not lockable.
The car comes with Fiat's useful Dualdrive electric power steering, to help when parking in tight spots. The normal power steering is speed sensitive but by depressing a button on the dashboard it lightens up even more for when you need real ease of manoeuvring, such as in a multi-storey car park.
One of the major attributes of the Punto has always been space. And that is as true today as with the first generation of the car. A supermini it might be but it boasts a superb amount of head and shoulder room making it feel as spacious as many cars in the next class up.
Boot space too is reasonable and can be extended by folding down the rear seat backs.
On the road the Punto Dynamic's ride is slightly on the soft side but it is comfortable, its handling is sharp and the diesel engine noise is not obtrusive.
Unlike many small engined diesels the Punto Multijet is a car that you can enjoy. You might buy it for economy, but once you get behind the wheel you will be surprised at just how rewarding it is to drive.
Fiat Punto Multijet Dynamic
Mechanical: 70bhp, 1,248cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 5-spd manual gearbox
Max speed: 102mph
0-62mph: 13.4 secs
Combined mpg: 62.8
Insurance group: 5
CO2 emissions: 119g/km
BiK rating: 15%
Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles; 8yrs anti-rust; 3yrs paint