Here comes the super hatch killer in India. The Fiat Grande Punto. Since its release, I have seen a few on the roads and envied it. I thought I have waited a lot and yesterday just took off for a test drive of this Diesel beast. I’d like to share a few experiences.
Looks exterior: One word describes it. Awesomeness. Fiat’s allround design beats the ugly Ritz and A-star. The front grille, the rear finishing and the side doors all give this car a superb touch. You’ll surely fall in love at first sight.
Looks interior: Not very much impressed. I’ve always tought Fiat has to hire interior designers from Hyundai or Honda. They have always been giving the customers crappy interiors and still have’nt learnt their lessons. I drove the top end Emotion Model which had an inbuilt Music system whose contols seem like an old transistor. The Air Con vents and the sliding controls are just too primitive. Its all black-black inside. The door side handles are’nt eye pleasing either. Fiat, its time. Change your inner wear. It matters. x|
Comfort: Great. You go inside and feel you are in a super big sedan. There is no way that 5 big sized adults could feel even the slightest of the cramps. With Steering level controls and seat height adjustments provided, a 6 foot guy need not worry about his comfort inside. Same with a guy who weighs a 100 Kilos. You’l fit inside with utmost ease.
Engine: The Fiat 1.3 MultiJet Diesel is a gem. Its Gold. I need not speak about it. Its a proven champion.
Acceleration: Here’s something you have to worry. Fireup the first gear, a slight push on the Gas would kick start the Punto. Then, you move on to the second and third, the car does not move until you push the Gas Pedal fully. An unpleasant surprise, but that’s the fact. I do not know whether it was a problem with the test drive vehicle, but if its not this is a serious issue. Press the Gas fully and leave the rest for the engine? I felt like a moped.
Braking: Its time that Indian car makes start giving us ABS as a compulsion and not as an option. With roads these days wider and better, and with a masterpiece Diesel Engine, you tend to zoom in fast and brakes are your life savers. Aren’t they? If thats not possible atleast give us all four Discs. That said, Punto’s brakes are not bad either. They show good response at speeds of 100kmph but never tested with 5 adults and luggage fully loaded.
Power Steering: The motor driven power steering responds well for a fairly bulky body like the Punto.
Air Conditioning: 1.3 Diesel does not bow down to an Air Con. You feel instant chill and it reaches out the rear passengers as well.
Dashboard: Ugly. What Fiat thought by placing the fuel and the temperature indicators at the center is still a mystery. Who on earth, while driving needs to keep looking at the Fuel Indicator going down all the time? I was very dissapointed. People are used to see the speeds and RPMs while driving, so put them at places right in front of the eye. Placing them where the edges of the steering cover them is foolishness. And next time, please change that italic font on the speedometer. It sucks.
Mileage: Punto gives you a highway mileage of 20 kmpl and a 17 kmpl in city conditions. I would accept this any day.
Gear Box: The new improved Fiat Gear Box is good. No complaints. All gears fall just right in place.
Top Speed: I always test drive Fiat vehicles at the Mysore Road, Concorde Motors so that I can zoom away in the Highway. Punto accelerated within no time and reached 100 – 120 kmph and stayed as stable as ever. Punto’s Aerodynamics and Geometry are the best available today. Go, press that accelerator and feel the rush
Tyres and Suspension: Tubeless tyres and Good suspension. Fiat won here.
Boot Space: Ample boot space to accomodate enough luggage for a family of four for a week long tour. No complaints here.
All in all, the Grande Punto is another step forward towards Fiat second innings in India. Given a chance to choose, I would rate the Punto over the Swift. Anybody now buying a Skoda Fabia is nothing less than a fool. Its very interesting to see how the 4 different cars – Punto, Indica Vista, Swift and Ritz fare at the market with the same 1.3 Multijet inside.
Find more pictures of the Punto Here. All the best Fiat.