India’s premium hatchback segment is getting crowded by the hour and all the top manufacturers are fighting it out to get their share in what is now looking like a free-for-all . Adding their share to this fight is Italian manufacturer Fiat , with their latest launch the Fiat Punto Evo . The car will be succeeding the hugely popular Grande Punto , which believe it or not was first launched in 2009 . The Fiat grande punto is one car that just refuses to age, even now it has the same vibrance that we saw 5 years back . Letting go of something so special doesn’t come easy , But changing times require drastic measures . With competition surging ahead Fiat had no choice but to bring out a much more advanced version of the Punto . Though the Punto Evo has been present in the International market since 2009 , like most other foreign cars it took a fair bit of time to reach here . However the 2014 Punto Evo launched here is said to be the most up-to-date model and gets a bit of the ‘India-treatment’.
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EXTERIOR AND DESIGN
Changing the exteriors of an already beautiful car is one tough job. This time however, the Engineers at Fiat has done a really great job bringing out an upgrade while still maintaining (bits) of the classic punto styling. Though we do miss the Maserati inspired front to the grande Punto , The new front design of the evo does equally well and attract a lot of attention . This particular color we are testing can be said to be one of the best colour in any car this segment, and was attracting a lot of eyes where ever we stopped .
The front of the new Punto Evo gets a thorough upgrade so much so that there seems to be no similarity between old and new Gen Punto’s . The front gets much more aggressive but seems to have somewhere lost its uniqueness. The headlamps have been swept back , almost giving it a raindeer type design and blends nicely with the overall curviness of the car. The bumper gets completely redesigned ,so does the front grilles . The bumper features a new foglamps housing outlined by chrome, the front grilles too get outlined by chrome. The hood get much more aggressive sporting a powerbulge ,which is a treat for the eyes.
The side design of the car is not all original and shares similarities with the old generation Punto . However the ground clearance has been increased and the new set of alloys adds to the charm of the side profile . The lower end variants will get wheel cups while higher end ones will get 15/16 inch alloys. The interesting feature here is that different alloys will be provided for the petrol and diesel variants. The rear view mirrors get integrated indicator lamps and the car gets a classic chrome colored pull-up handle.
The rear of the car remain almost similar to the old gen punto , however the new changes are easily visible . The car has been provided with LED tail lamps which look absolutely gorgeous at night and the EVO tag has been integrated below the Punto logo. A similar design to the front has been used at the rear , having a conjoined fog-lamp and reflectors space which is again outlined by chrome.
Overall the exteriors stay true to the EVO tag , and we would rate this as one of the most attractive cars currently in the segment .
At first look the interiors can be said to be really upmarket. The dashboard has been borrowed from the Linea and does a really great job to improve the appeal of the interior. The inside of the car is a visual treat and will come in a dual tone black-beige color scheme for all variants except the 90HP sport model, which gets an all black interior. The overall built quality and finish though not segment leading can be said to be really good. The steering wheels have been lifted off from the old gen Punto , but doesn’t feel out of place in any way . The Punto Evo sports a beautiful twin pod instrument console with an red-orange backlit.
Fiat has provided an orange coloured ambient lighting inside the punto ,which deserves a special mention here. The colour blends nicely with the overall interior design and the orange colored LED strips provided above the glovebox , adds to the overall appeal . The front seats are really comfortable providing ample legroom and thigh support. The rear seats too provide decent head and legroom and only felt a bit cramped when 3 full sized adults where traveling. However sitting behind a taller rider will be hard.Rear AC vents have been provided to improve interior cooling .
The boot can be said to be just enough ,providing ample space for essential luggage . The interiors are however little low on storage space , and are limited to the spaces infront of the gear liver , above the center AC vents and the bottle holder near doors and a small storage space at the right for the driver . The car gets automatic climate control , Blue&Me Audio System(cannot be said to be very user-friendly) with Bluetooth connectivity , and AUX support. The AUX port has been placed just in front of the gear lever. The driver side window gets both one touch up and down feature , while all other windows get one-touch down. Other features of the new fiat punto include rain sensing wipers , automatic headlamps and 2 front airbags ( along with a passenger airbag deactivation system ) . An interesting feature of the new punto is that the rear wiper automatically switches on when the car is put in reverse ( If the front wipers are on) .
Though the Fiat Punto evo gets a wide overhaul in the looks department , they have kept the mill untouched . The new Punto Evo will come with 2 Petrol and 1 Diesel engine option , of which the diesel will be available in 2 states of tune. The 1.2 Liter petrol variant will act as the entry level variant and will produce 68Ps of power at 6000rpm and 96Nm of torque at 2500rpm . The top-end petrol variant will sport a 1.4 liter mill which belts out almost 90PS of power at 6000 rpm and 115 Nm of torque at 4500 rpm.However this variant suffers from a low fuel efficiency figure of 14.4 kmpl ( worst in segment) . The Punto Evo will also be available in diesel , and comes in 2 states of tune . The 1.3 liter Multijet Engine will be produce 76 PS of power and 197Nm of torque and the the top-end 90HP sport model will have a higher tuned 1.3 liter which churns out almost 93Ps of power and 203 Nm of torque.
Both the Petrol and Diesel felt sluggish at the lower rpm’s , however once the car got to the middle rev ranges this problem was soon dealt with . That said the power delivered by the car cant be said to segment topping . The car doesn’t excel at the mileage department either and is limited to 16-14.4 kmpl ranges for petrol and 20-22 kmpl for diesel. The 1.4 Liter petrol variant accelerates pretty quickly and is very refined, however the much needed low end grunt is still missing. Though the engine excelled at mid-rev ranges , it kept on getting noisy as we pushed it higher.
The Infamous 1.3 liter Diesel mill also doesn’t seem to do justice to the exuberant exterior looks. The car suffers from a turbo lag up to 2000 rpm which is not great for city driving . However post this rpm the car really excelled and the performance was up to the mark . The Punto Evo felt much more at home in the highways .
Overall both the variants felt really good to drive , however the sluggish performance at lower RPM’s and the the lower fuel economy goes against it . What we would have loved is the 1.6 liter multijet diesel mill on the top-end variant , that would have upped Fiat’s game much more.
DRIVE ,HANDLING & BREAKING
What Ground the new Punto lost in terms of performance is quickly gained here. The car is great to drive and the drivability is almost similar to the old-gen Punto. The driving position offer great visibility , me being 6 foot tall. The ride quality over bad roads is excellent , as we have experienced quite a few pot holes en-route . The Fiat punto Evo offer a very high ground clearance of 185mm for diesel and an outrageous 195mm for petrol . The higher ground clearence may be good on bad roads but does affect the overall looks of the car ( very slightly) and also seems set it back on stability front . Thia said the stability of the Evo is great for a car in the segment, we are just saying that Fiat could have improved it by lowering the clearance.
The shifting is smooth and the engine gives great feedback , however with the peak power and torque coming in only at relatively higher rev ranges,constant shifting is required in cities.The handling and breaking is great. The car comes with ventilated Disc’s at front and drums at the rear . The turning Radius is a bit on the higher side , however that doesn’t pose a huge problem.
Overall the Fiat Punto Evo can be said to be a respectable contender in India’s premium hatchback segment. It suffers from minor flows in terms of performance and mileage, however the great looks and the better drive dynamics of the car makes up for it.The car offer better interior and and an overall refreshed feel. The success of the new Punto Evo will depend heavily on how Fiat plans to market the car , if it strikes a chord with the Indian audience it is sure to rise to the top .
Car Courtesy : Hyson Fiat , Kochi