Fiat Grande Punto Review
Car Tested: 2012 Fiat Grande Punto 90HP Sport
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 8,76,450/-
Fiat India recently launched the Grande Punto 90 HP Sport as a limited edition variant. The Italian automaker has not made any mechanical changes to the Punto, which retains everything offered on the 2012MY Punto. We have reviewed all the variants of the Punto earlier, including the 90 HP one (which we tuned to 105 BHP – link to review). The changes are very minimal, such as the addition of body graphics, chrome muffler, chrome door handles, chrome accented interiors, aluminum pedals and red stitching on the seats. However the most important aspect of the Fiat Grande Punto Sport is it features a variable geometry turbocharger, which gives it better performance than the regular Punto. We munch some miles on this Italian beauty to find out how good the Grande Punto Sport really is!
The interiors of the Fiat Grande Punto Sport feel solid. There are no built quality issues found on earlier Fiats and the Punto Sport feels very well put together. The red stitching is not so evident but the chrome accents do look good. The aluminum pedals give good grip and even the dead pedal is finished in chrome. The steering wheel feels wonderful to hold and offers tremendous grip. Even though the dashboard is unchanged since the Punto was first launched in 2005, it doesn’t feel outdated at all. Everything feels solid, right from the indicator stalks to the loud thud from the doors on closing them.
The gear lever too gets red stitching, which again goes unnoticed most of the time. The gearbox is not the smoothest around and feels notchy at times, although rarely does it refuse to slot into the gear you want it to. Seats are comfortable and offer decent support, but are a bit hard for our liking.
The ground clearance has been increased which seems to have affected the ride quality slightly. The Punto does offer a fantastic ride quality but feels a bit jittery on extremely bad roads, bouncing marginally. The handling is simply mind blowing and the Punto is a very obedient vehicle. Point it to a direction of your choice and it goes there with so much composure that you will be shocked to know you are driving a hatchback. The handling is in fact so good, it can put cars almost thrice its price to shame. The brakes too are very strong and the Grande Punto maintains its line even on very hard braking. High speed stability is undoubtedly the best in the segment and you never feel the speeds you do in the Punto. Fiat has got it bang on target with the driving dynamics of the Grande Punto and the 90HP Sports variant retains every bit of it. The car being reflected in the Punto’s body in the above picture is no where close to the stability, brakes and handling of this Italian beast.
The Fiat Grande Punto 90 HP Sport is being promoted as the most powerful diesel hatchback in the country. Fiat is running advertisements which say – ‘burn tire, not diesel’, but does the Punto have the thrust to justify this claim? Certainly yes. The 1.3-litre Multijet engine produces 93 PS of peak power at 4000 RPM and 209 Nm of peak torque at 2000 RPM. Once the turbo spools up, the Punto 90 HP shows very good progress and accelerates with urgency. The first gear lacks grunt though the Punto 90 HP pulls neatly in all other gears without a hitch. The engine is refined and low on NVH. It sounds very sporty for a diesel motor and reaches 110 km/h in third gear, redlining at around 5200 RPM. Top speed is around 170 km/h at around 4200 RPM in 5th gear.
Fiat India might not have offered a real Sport version of the Grande Punto, with most of the aspects being similar to the old Punto 90HP. However the small additions are truly noteworthy and gives the Punto more appeal. The only fault we could find with the Punto is the high turning radius (which all Fiat cars suffer from) and no electro-magnetic tail gate opener. Meanwhile the Grande Punto continues to offer class-leading driving dynamics along with a very capable diesel engine, which returns 15 km/l in the city and 17 km/l on the highway. The Grande Punto Sport is by far the best hatchback for the highways and offers a wide smile on the drivers face each and every time he takes the wheel. With Fiat working on its own independent dealer network, there is every reason for prospective buyers to consider Grande Punto as the best diesel hatchback in the country.