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22 September, 2014 at 12:22 PM Other Reviews:
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Fiat Punto Evo: An evocative stuff, but
By MRP
Fiat Punto Evo
If I say Fiat is a great car brand, I don’t think there will be any second opinion even from those who have a rudimentary knowledge of the global automotive landscape, and the working of a car.  And if I say Fiat is a failed brand in India, there will not be any second opinion either, from even those who never touched the steering wheel of a Fiat vehicle in the country.

There are 101 reasons for the utter failure of Fiat brand in India, but the foremost among them is that many people who bought Fiat models such as Palio and Uno got a shock of their life thanks to high maintenance costs, expensive spares and extremely low resale value. On some occasions, Fiat owners struggled to find buyers even when they offered their cars at rock bottom prices.  Additionally, India never had enough automobile technicians who could confidently handle Fiat cars. That was also a big drag on the brand image, but the Italian carmaker, which also owns iconic brand such as Ferrari and Alfa Romeo, never tried to go for a course correction and rectify the shortcomings. Its piggyback ride on Tata Motors for sales and service did not help the brand either.

So, Fiat India, with sales falling into a bottomless pit in recent years, divorced from Tata Motors on March 31, 2013 and went solo. Since then, it has been busy rolling out its own sales and service network across the length and breadth of the country. Though it succeeded in setting up a large number of outlets, sales have not picked up on the same level as it could not roll out new models. Last year, it managed the show with special editions of Fiat Linea and Punto. This year too, it did not launch any new models till now, but brought in Punto Evo in time for the India’s ongoing festive season. However, unlike the earlier special editions, Punto Evo has received major makeover, both inside and outside.  I enjoyed it thoroughly when I got a chance to sample it, albeit for a brief time, recently.

But what does this evocative Fiat Punto Evo offer? The automaker and its representatives claim many things, but, to be honest, I did not find any radical change to the overall profile of Punto, baring refinements in the front and rear, some enhancements inside, etc. However, there was a genuine attempt to make the model sleek, stylish and sportier when compared to the earlier avatar. There are things like reindeer headlamps that lend ornamental look to the front profile. Moreover, tail lamps get LED optical guides, outside mirrors are adorned with indicator blinkers and front grille gets wider complimented by chrome garnish. Top end variants – Emotion and Sport (only diesel) – also get diamond cut alloy wheels. Inside, you get piano finish central console, ambient lighting and sportier dials with new colour themes. Automatic climate control and rear AC vents give a kind of premium look to the interior contours.

No doubt, Fiat Punto always embodied the distinctive European design cues that none of its rivals offered by Japanese, Korean and American carmakers in the higher ended of the hatchback segment, could boast of. Punto Evo also offers safety protection gear that meets European homologation standards. So, it comes with dual airbags in front with early crash sensors and ABS with EBD (only in the two top end variants), metal reinforcement to the back of the rear seat as well as double crank prevention mechanism. Even the entry-level variant called Active has safety features such as engine immobilizer and FPS (fire prevention system).

Under the hood, Punto Evo is offered with four engine options – 1.2-litre and 1.4-litre Fire petrol as well as 1.3-litre Multijet diesel and a turbocharged version of it that generates 93 PS power and is called  1.3-litre Multijet diesel 93PS Sport. Carried forward from the earlier avatar and paired with five speed manual gearbox, these engines offer plenty of choices for customers in this segment. The entry-level 1.2-litre (1,172 cc) petrol whips out 68 PS power at 6,000 rpm while generating a peak torque of 96 Nm at 2,500 rpm. Fitted in the Active and Dynamic variants, it offers a mileage of 15.8 km/l. Interestingly, the two variants with this engine have a great ground clearance of 195 mm thanks to the small engine. The bigger 1.4-litre (1,368 cc) petrol that powers the Emotion variant is capable of generating 90 PS power at 6K rpm and 115 Nm torque at 4,500 rpm, offering a mileage of 14.4 km/l. This variant and all the four trims powered by diesel engines have a lesser ground clearance of 185 mm compared to the entry-level petrol versions.

The smaller diesel engine, 1248-cc (1.3 litre) Multijet which powers three trims – Active, Dynamic and Emotion – is rated at 76 PS peak power at 4K rpm and 197 Nm torque from a low 1,750 rpm. Popular as Swift engine in India as it also powers the Maruti Suzuki Swift, the largest selling high-end hatchback in India and the main rival to Punto Evo, this diesel power train delivers a fuel economy of 21.2 km/l,  highest among all the Punto Evo trims. The flagship 93PS Sport diesel engine whips out 93 PS power at 4K rpm and 209 Nm torque at 2K rpm.  Despite being more powerful, it delivers a decent mileage of 20.5 km/l.

When pitted against the main rival Swift, Punto Evo scores in terms of length (3,989 mm Vs 3,850 mm), wheelbase (2,510 mm Vs 2,430 mm) and of course ground clearance (185 mm Vs 170 mm). But Swift hatchback is ahead in fuel efficiency thanks to its low weight, nearly 100 kg less than the comparable variants of sturdier Punto Evo.        
 
But given a chance, will I buy this Punto Evo? The straight answer to this tricky question is an ‘absolute No’. Many Indians, mostly of masculine variety, will definitely give similar reply.  Already, Indian men are saddled with so many nagging responsibilities that last for entire course of their lives. They have to take care of their troublesome kids and tricky wives. Obviously, they don’t want another huge burden like a Fiat model that may keep their hearts racing for wrong all reasons – on the road and off it. Of course, everyone loves to own a Fiat, but unfortunately not in India. Sorry Fiat India, I am not going to buy your Fiat Punto Evo for the time being. But you have done some wonderful things in the recent past – parted ways with Tata Motors and planned for pan-India network of your own. Keep the good efforts going and one day, I will definitely buy a new Fiat in India. Good luck to the maker of Italian beauties for a better future.

VITALS:
Model: 2014 Fiat Punto Evo
Engine: 1.3-litre Multijet 93 PS Sport
Transmission: five-speed manual
Peak Power:  93 PS @ 4,000 rpm
Max. Torque: 209 Nm @1,750 rpm
Mileage: 20.5 km/l
Price: Rs 7.20 lakh ($11,850; ex showroom Delhi)
Price range (all 7 trims): Rs 4.55 lakh ($7,400) to Rs 7.20 lakh ($11,850)
DS rating: 3/5

Dimensions:
Length              3989 mm
Width                1687 mm
Height               1525 mm
Wheelbase       2510 mm
Gr. Clearance     185 mm



Read More On : Fiat , Fiat Punto , hatchback , India
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