We test drive Fiat's latest offering to find out if its performance is as phenomenal as its looks.
The Indian crossover segment has mainly witnessed competition from three manufacturers - Toyota Etios Cross, VW Cross Polo and the latest to join the party - the Fiat Avventurra. All the three crossovers are based on the premium hatches offered by the respective manufacturers but the Fiat Avventura literally stands apart from its competition. With looks that will have you believe that it is a capable off-roader, the Fiat Avventura based on the Punto Evo is definitely one of the best offerings from the Italian manufacturers stable. We test it to let you know if it's worth you buck.
Things to look forward to:
1.Best in class looks
2.A true crossover with very close SUV-ish traits
3.Space & comfort
4.Superior ride quality and handling
Things that will make you think twice
1.Interiors may seem bland to some
2.No safety features
3.Lack of engine options
Design (4.5/5 rating)
It goes without saying that the Avventura is a beautiful car; the Italians have a knack of creating beautiful automobiles and the same can be said about the Avventura as well. Fiat has done a fine job of transforming the lean, athletic looking Punto Evo into a muscular, handsome automobile, with just the right amount of beefiness at all the right places. After getting awed by its looks what you'll immediately notice is its tall stance - the Avventura is taller than its competitors - The Cross Polo and the Etios Cross and stands 205mm over the ground, same as the Renault Duster! Its height has been raised by 20mm over the Punto Evo. The front and rear of the Avventurra looks exactly the same as the Punto Evo with the exception of the black cladding that gives it a tough look; with the pseudo skid-plate completing the SUV-ish/ cross over styling. The wheel arches have also been widened and house the 16-inch alloy wheels. The one thing that you'll certainly not miss is the tail-gate mounted spare wheel. Fiat has done a smart job by mounting the spare wheel on a separate bracket on the bumper, rather than directly on the tail-gate. It can be operated by a simple mechanism and handles the shortcomings which come with tailgate mounted spare wheels; all variants come with spare wheel covers. The aluminium roof rails on the Avventura are lightweight, yet strong and functional. The overall visual package of the Avventura is in fact its strongest USP.
Interiors (3.5/5 rating)
The interiors of the Avventura are the same as on the Punto Evo with some cool additions. The dual tone grey-black dashboard feels elegant, but to some it may seem bland. The grey bit on the dashboard is a soft touch material and it gels well with the fabric upholstery. Coming to the cool bits - just above the aircon vents on the dashboard are three dials - a compass, pitch and roll which show the incline angle and the angle of approach. Though these are more particular to off-road vehicles, they make the Avventura look cool, however these won't be of much (rather any) use as the Avventura is not meant for that kind of indulgence.
The infotainment system is neatly placed in the centre of the dashboard and allows users to access their music via CDs, USB and AUX. The Dynamic variant does not come with steering mounted controls and only allows tilt shift adjustment of the steering wheel. The instrument cluster has analog dials for the fuel level, speedometer and the tachometer while the odo reading is digital. The dials as well as the digital pad offer good visibility. Cruise control is absent and the dynamic variant comes sans climate control. This feature though is seen on the EMOTION variant.
The other conveniences available include cup holders, adjustable seats (including height), adjustable headrests, fully folding rear seats, leather wrapped steering wheel, front and rear power windows, electrically adjustable ORVMs, fog lamps, and a rear ac vent. Since the wheel base of the Avventura remains the same as the Punto Evo, so does the boot space.
The Avventura offers good lumbar support and though arm rests are absent long distance driving won't leave you fatigued. Though not the best in class, legroom for passengers is comfortable and won't leave them twitching around for space either. Overall the interior styling of the Avventura is visually and physically pleasing.
Engine and performance (4.5/5 rating)
Fiat is offering the Avventura in two engine options - a 1.4 litre petrol and 1.3 litre multijet diesel. We tested the DYNAMIC trim line in petrol powered by the 1.4 litre engine that churns 90PS of power @ 6000rpm along with a torque of 115Nm @4500 rpm. All the variants of the Avventura come with a five speed manual transmission in front wheel drive. Floor the throttle and all the 90 horses surge ahead though at not that quick a rate as you'd expect them to. It handles urban bumper-to-bumper traffic with ease and even while driving in third gear at 30kmph the Avventura offers sufficient torque and gives no hint of stalling. The revs climb up in a liner fashion and if you keep it within its power band it handles inclines modestly.
Touching three digit speeds is no task for the Avventura though you can achieve that comfortable only once you hit the fourth gear. The car comes to a standstill as quickly as it gallops ahead - the brakes are sharp and precise, though we wish the Avventura came with ABS and traction control.
Ride and handling
The first thing you'll notice when you drive the Fiat Avventura is how heavy the steering feels. The hydraulic steering wheel offers good feedback and inspite of its weight is precise and takes the car exactly in the direction you want it to go. Fiat has tweaked the suspension set-up and the car has minimal body roll. Even when approaching high speed turns and driving around the ghats the Avventura felt well planted and if we may say a bit confidence inspiring as well. Even when you put it through its paces over potholed laden roads or mild off-roading paths, the Avventura performs well with minimum jitters being transferred to the passengers. Though it has some soft roading capabilities, we suggest you refrain from testing the car in off-road terrains as it is devoid of the 4x4 function. The fat tyres handle highway speeds well, though you may occasionally experience some noise. Fiat has not just done a slap on job to make a crossover out of the Punto Evo, it has rather put in good thought while designing the Avventura which is pretty visible from the way the car handles and performs.
Will it make the mark?
With refreshing looks, commendable performance and handling the Fiat Avventura may well be able to hit the sweet spot with consumers. There is a high possibility that the car may sell well for Fiat based on its looks alone which unarguably are the best in its class. Are we impressed by the Avventura? Totally, but we do wish Fiat offered this beauty in more engine options which could make it further stand apart from competition, not that it doesn't do that already!