Fiat Punto Evo Long Term Review
Car Tested: Fiat Punto Evo 90 HP Sport
Kms Done: 2643 kms
Test Started at: 6685 kms
Test Concluded at: 9328 kms
Mileage: 14.73 km/l, 16.58 km/l (best), 12.20 km/l (worst)
Fuel Consumed: 179.43 litres
Fuel Cost: Rs. 10,048/-
Rs. per km: Rs. 3.80/-
The Punto Evo is still the most striking hatchback in India, it’s a tank with a soul
Everyone loves to feel special, in fact attention is one of our primary needs whether it’s in the form of love from our family or care of our friends. But why am I talking about all this in a Fiat Punto Evo article? Because this car does make one feel special. Many of my friends who had little idea about the Fiat Punto started to become believers of the Italian brand but they were quick to admit that they never ever have seen a Punto Evo on Indian roads yet. Every time they would see one, they would tell me. The conversation would go like this “hey, guess what, I saw a red Punto Evo at Bandra”, and my response was “yeah, it was me”. What I am trying to say here is, the Punto Evo is an extremely rare car which is both shocking and disheartening.
Why shocking and disheartening, because of all the hatchbacks I have driven (even five times expensive German ones), nothing gives the feel of driving a Fiat Punto. Forget the driving part, we Indians are also very “looks” conscious and nothing looks like a Punto Evo, arriving in this car any where is such a style statement. With the Punto Evo now returned back to Fiat, I see myself immediately spotting the car or the Avventura (although rare due to the limited numbers on the road) and fixing my eyes on them, those amazing LED tail lights and the Italian design can brighten up the day. In fact, recently I saw a red Avventura (similar colour as our long termer) and boy it made me go weak in the knees. Fiat deserves 11 on 10 for the design of the Punto which simply fails to age inspite of it now hitting 10 years.
Built like a tank, the Punto Evo makes you feel safe
Open the heavy door (a workout of sorts for those who are far from the gym usually) and get inside, the closing of the door does make you feel something substantial has closed, the Punto Evo giving you the tank like feel with its solid build quality. The all black interior look sporty and although a bit dated now, still look very appealing to me. The lack of basic features do make life difficult for those are used to other modern cars, like the lack of audio streaming is a pain in the backside of sorts which should have been addressed with the Evo. Ergonomic issues continue to be troublesome but you do tend to get used to it, only being reminded of the anomaly when you drive another car whose steering isn’t mounted close to your chest.
Where things go a bit wrong is the quality or the inconsistency of it. Some parts aren’t bolted on strongly and although there weren’t any rattles from our test car (thank God for that otherwise it would have broken my heart), the USB/AUX switch would almost always come out when I tried to plug off my charger. This is just a small thing but Fiat should make sure such issues don’t occur because they spoil the experience of what is otherwise a fantastically put together car in all other areas. The seats are nice and supportive, there is decent rear seat room too and the boot is reasonably accommodating, so yes, the Punto Evo is quite practical a car for a hatchback buyer, it has more space than the top-selling Maruti Swift and even better build than the much raved Volkswagen Polo.
Mid-range performance is very pleasing, low-end not so much with all that lag
Our tester was the top of the line, Punto Evo Sport with the 1.3-litre Fiat MultiJet motor belting out 90 horses and 209 Nm of torque. Now for any other car, this diesel mill would make it fly, case in point being the Hyundai Elite i20 and Volkswagen Polo which have similar power output while the Maruti Swift uses the same engine but has lower tune, all three cars are much faster and offer better drivability too. Thus in the city, the Punto Evo isn’t the easiest of cars to drive with the massive turbo lag and the rubbery shifts from the gearbox. Making matters a bit tiring is the heavy steering and the large A-pillars.
However, all that lag does become fruitful because what it gives the diesel-powered Punto Evo is a strong mid-range, there is the silence before the storm because when the turbo kicks in all its glory at 2000 RPM, there is a small kick in the pants feel and the progress in the mid-range is rapid. The best part about this diesel mill is the top-end, while it doesn’t take you anywhere, the motor does sound sweet near its 5000 RPM redline and the sound from the powerplant is something only Fiat has managed to tune so well. But keep at the redline and mileage numbers tumble all the way to 12 km/l, the Punto Evo being a heavy car is far from being among the frugal crowd in this segment.
No hatchback can match the sheer ride, handling, braking and stability balance of the Punto Evo
We all know the Fiat Punto is an old car, there was a mid-life facelift which came in global markets in 2009, about the same time we got the Grande Punto in India which was actually launched in 2005. We got the Punto Evo last year so in essence, this car is underpinned by a 10-year old plus platform. In this span of time, many cars in this segment have changed two generations and yet none are able to match the Punto in terms of driving dynamics. Not only is the Punto the benchmark in the segment when it comes to braking, stability and grip, it also has the best ride and handling balance. Then there is the grip offered by those big 16-inch tyres and not to forget this Fiat is the cheapest car in India to use a hydraulic steering which is absolutely feel-some. Driving the Punto Evo at anytime would instantly paste a huge smile on the face, it’s so engaging and fun with the kind of feel that has been long forgotten by car makers in the interest of making driving easier and the vehicle more efficient.
Fiat Punto Evo Cost Of Service
The Fiat Punto Evo simply deserves to sell in more numbers and the ignorance of this fab hatch by buyers in India is quite ridiculous. Sure it’s not the most frugal car or the lightest to drive in the city but in a country where many of us have started to show worry about safety, the Punto is one of the few cars which is made like a tank and got an Euro NCAP 5-star rating in 2005, a time when most Indians didn’t even know what NCAP meant. Usually when one opts for a enthusiast choice, they end up missing on the practicality point of view but there is no such case with the Punto Evo. This Fiat, in spite of being fab to drive, is also safe, comfortable and easily the most attractive car in its class. The upcoming Abarth version should get this Italian beast the credit it very much deserves.
We got strongly attached to our long term Punto Evo and weren’t ready to let go of it, after all, it’s just not another car, it’s an emotional connection. But with Fiat all set to launch the Punto Abarth with a fire-breathing 143 BHP petrol engine, we have already started investing in oil tanks for out next Fiat long termer.
* Mid-range punch and top-end engine sound
* Driving dynamics, there is feel and feedback in everything
* Tank like build, one feels secure in a Fiat
* Comfortable seats and excellent ride quality
What’s Not So Cool
* Lacks low-end city performance
* Weight bogs down performance and mileage
* Some equipment missing
Picture Editing: Sri Manikanta Achanta
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