Some car brands get you emotional, they might not be quick but they tinker your heart every time you get behind the wheel. For instance the Ford Classic, back in its old days when it was the Fiesta had its own charm. The Fiesta 1.6 S with its swaggering taunting blue colour won hearts of several, it wasn’t any quicker than the conventional Fiesta 1.6, under the hood was the same 100 horses army that transmitted power to the front wheels, but it was the handling that made a sea of difference. Then there was the Fiat Palio 1.6 GTX. A hatchback ahead of its time. A true hot hatch that could do 0-100km/hr in about 10 seconds. This is what Fiat has been all about, emotions. A car with a soul, that excites you every time you drive. Good day or bad day, you can’t stop smiling.
Now, there has been the Fiat Grande Punto, and the Italian automaker is titivating its gorgeous styling to enhance it further. We get our hands on the Fiat Punto Evo, just before its launch and share our review of this upgraded hatchback.
One needs to learn how to design a car from the Italians. It isn’t about the cutting-edge streamline body or not even the futuristic look. It is the magical styling that soothes your eyes. One such example has been the Linea, a car that is timeless beauty and so elegant that this was the one car commercial where the Linea was still and the tagline was “Stop! At the sight of you.” The Grande Punto too, wasn’t any less eye-candy. The Evo is certainly the evolution of the existing Punto.
It has pulled back headlamps with a new trapezoidal front grille. The fog lamps too get a large chrome surround. The side profile remains untouched however it gets new alloy wheels. The rear is very similar to the existing Punto, except for the extra chrome that has been added. Now, this isn’t what we are fond of. Then of course there is the new Punto logo, if you recall the previous logo it had a man sitting in driving position as P, now it’s a new one.
The inside story of the Punto Evo is new too. It has stylish interiors, which makes it look contemporary. The new instrument cluster, new centre console and circular side air-con vents. These add a lot more glam to the Punto’s interior styling. One important point, Fiat claims that the quality of the interiors have been improved significantly, if you ask sme I think it still needs to improve on the look and feel factor. The fit and finish was always good and there is no doubt in that.
The space available for the first row is ample even for tall people. The support of the seat is good too, however it has just fine space at the rear. The knee room is a bit cramped for the second row. The boot is good enough to gobble luggage for the weekend. The thigh support for the rear seats, could have been better. Slip behind the wheel and you shall like the thick steering wheel, with grip-ons at 10 minutes to 2 position of the clock. The overall visibility is good with large ORVMs except for the thick C-pillars that affect whilst reverse parking.
Now a few issues have been changed. To begin with, there is no dead pedal to rest your foot and even the clutch pedal size has been made smaller, which means more effort to clutch or de-clutch. The Blue & Me cannot stream music through Bluetooth, even though it has now got USB and Aux-connectivity. No new features have been added to the Punto Evo, when compared to the Punto.
Engines and Transmission:
Moving on to the engines and the transmissions, no changes have been made. There are two petrols and two diesels. To begin with there is the 1.2-litre and 1.4-litre FIRE petrol engines. These produce 64bhp and 90bhp respectively. No update has been made to any of the engines.
The 1.3-litre multijet comes in two states of tune, 75bhp and 90bhp. The 75bhp has undergone a minor update to improve the drivability. The final drive ratio has been made shorter. The 90bhp has the same state of tune and gearing. There is a prominent turbo lag in both and it is only above 2000rpm that the turbo punch could be felt. To overtake in petrol or the diesel engines one has to downshift. The amount of gear shifting one has to undergone in city is a bit more than what could be pleasing. This is one aspect that still needs some fine tuning from Fiat’s end. The difference between the 75bhp and the 90bhp can be felt only on the highway. That is exactly where the 90bhp shines over with its extra 15 horses.
The Punto Evo might not have sufficient power, but it has terrific ride and handling. Drive through potholes, bad roads, broken tarmac, the suspension does a dazzling job of soaking up all the jolts and rebounds. The Grande Punto shares its platform with its elder sibling Linea and hence it gets the same underpinnings, struts at the front and torsion beam at the rear. The ride on the hatchback is smooth and composed as the suspension absorbs most of the jolts and shocks from the road, without affecting the ride suppleness of the occupants.
Grande Punto is one of the best handling hatchbacks in the B+ segment. Chuck it around a hairpin bend, and you shall be surprised by the balance of the chassis. The handling prowess is such that one may not easily lose control, unless something stupid is done. Even the response from the steering wheel is phenomenal and this further inspires confidence. The increased ground clearance hasn’t affected the ride and handling characteristics, but it does feel a bit jittery when driven on a bumpy road.
Despite being a Fiat fan, we didn’t get that emotional connect that we normally get. The design has got extra chrome, interiors well nothing new in features and engine still needs some tweaking. However, the moment you get behind the things change. But that emotional connect is still missing. We love the Punto Evo for its being, but then it has some drawbacks too.
Spec comparison: Petrol
Spec comparison: Diesel