Fiat Urban Cross Long Term Review
The Fiat Urban Cross is unlike its rivals, offers splendid driving feel and comfort
There are two kinds of cars in the mass market segment, one are the feather light ones which are low on weight, high on mileage and questionable in safety structure and the other is of course Fiat. The Italian automaker might not have found the success it deserves in India but its customers are a happy bunch because Fiat makes cars which have a soul. We have always loved driving Fiat cars and since the Punto was launched in 2009, we have spent considerable time behind the wheel of this hatchback. The automaker’s recent most launch was the Urban Cross and it is now part of our long term fleet.
There is no denying that the Fiat Urban Cross is a good looking car and that is in spite of the design dating back to 2005, yes, that’s 12 years old already but still an attractive machine to look at. Fiat’s design language reeks of its Italian origins and since driving a Fiat car can be exclusive, due to lower numbers seen on the road, it does stand out. The Urban Cross is easily the best looking pseudo crossover in the segment and has the rugged appearance to pull eye balls to it.
However it’s not all that good when you step inside because our test car, which is a diesel, isn’t available in the top spec Emotion trim. The Dynamic variant misses out on some essentials, including airbags and of course the much used to steering mounted audio controls. With time, we aren’t missing the steering controls though as the audio control buttons are in easy reach while the audio system pairs up quickly too. We don’t like the touch-screen unit which isn’t responsive enough. However the lack of features is all forgotten when you open and close the doors.
The interior isn’t very feature rich but has extremely solid build quality
Build quality of Fiat cars is fantastic. The doors are heavy and actually take effort to open and close but most importantly, you feel secure inside the cabin. The soft touch inlays look very nice and quality levels are also quite good. Yes we would have loved the climate control AC and rear wiper but the Emotion trim is reserved for the petrol version only. Being the mid-trim, the Urban Cross’ centre console doesn’t have a lid on the top of the centre AC vents which has been a good thing for me as I place my phone when using Google Maps.
The seating position wasn’t the best at the start but you get used to it within a couple of days while two features to absolutely love about Fiat cars are the one touch down power windows and the double blade wipers (with a delayed function), they leave no residue on the windscreen. I also love the flip key but in these times of keyless go and push button start, the lack of it on any Fiat car is a bit of an inconvenience (Maruti and Hyundai have put us all in a bad habit I tell you). This brings me to the best part of any Fiat car, the driving experience.
The Urban Cross is heavy, the oil burner has low-end lag and the hydraulic steering isn’t a one hand twirl. This might sound like a bane but if you are the kind of person who loves driving, it actually turns out to be pure unadulterated pleasure. In these times where cars are getting lighter, the Urban Cross skipped the diet, linear acceleration being the norm, this Fiat prefers to keep the silence before the storm and when steering wheels have become appliances, the Urban Cross makes you romance it with the high level of feel and feedback, what joy it is to drive a Fiat.
However this means that driving in the city takes the toll on you as you need to plan well in advance to close gaps due to the turbo lag. Parking takes effort which is accentuated by the average all-around visibility and lack of reverse parking sensors. This Fiat might have Urban in its very name but it is more of a highway machine because it has strong top-end performance, unheard of on diesel vehicles. The Multijet motor might be showing its age in NVH but we like what we hear everyday, when we crank up this Italian and redline her, she sounds s-w-e-e-t. The icing on the cake is a chassis which has fantastic balance between ride and handling, although body roll is something one has to deal with due to the unnecessary high ground clearance.
By this time, you must have realised that I love the Fiat Urban Cross, it’s no secret, I love Fiat cars for they aren’t made to top spec sheets but instead bring out the emotion in the driver. No, Fiat won’t put small tyres in their cars because safety and grip takes precedence over mileage and turning radius. Strong brakes are more important than a few fancy gadgets. What I am trying to say, the Urban Cross is a fantastic mechanical machine, sadly not everyone can appreciate it because in India, we continue to treat our vehicles as appliances and till then, it’s just me and the Urban Cross, enjoying each other’s company, exclusively.
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