The Fiat Grande Punto was launched in India in 2009 and marketed as a premium hatchback. The vehicle’s chief competitors at the time of launch were the Honda Jazz, Hyundai i20 as well as market leader Maruti Swift. The Fiat Punto comes with great build quality and it has always been known as a driver’s car. Bad fit and finish of materials and poor after-sales service experience for customers meant the Grande Punto couldn’t really pick up sales as expected by its manufacturer. Now, the Fiat Grande Punto is due for a facelift (it is being extensively tested and was snapped by our reader Nishant Rai in Pune earlier this week) and recently the Italian carmaker leaked some details on the updated Punto in a company presentation.
Presently in the Indian auto market, the premium hatchback segment sees the Maruti Swift, Hyundai i20 and Volkswagen Polo fighting it out. The Polo doesn’t sell in good numbers because it is clearly overpriced while the Swift is the market king when it comes to sales. The i20 isn’t far behind though. While the Swift offers good engines and gearbox along with good looks, handling and dynamics, the i20 is loaded with bells and whistles and the facelifted version looks very snazzy too. There is no denying that the Polo is also good in its own right, but it really doesn’t compete with the other two in sales.
Fiat will be introducing the updated Grande Punto very soon. This won’t be an all-new model but still the company has upgraded a lot of things on the premium hatchback rather than just a basic bumper + grille redesign job. The looks of the new Grande Punto are very much inspired by the Avventura, which is a crossover recently unveiled by Fiat. Since this is a major redesign job, the updated Punto looks very different than the outgoing version and lends the product a fresh and lively appeal. The interiors of the new Punto will also be greatly updated and the dashboard design is similar to the facelifted Linea that was launched earlier this year.
The updated Fiat Punto will be powered by the same engines – 1.2-litre petrol, 1.4-litre petrol and 1.3-litre Multijet diesel. The Maruti Swift is powered by a 1.2-litre petrol engine and 1.3-litre Multijet diesel engine while the Hyundai i20 gets the following – 1.2-litre petrol MT, 1.4-litre petrol AT and 1.4-litre CRDI diesel. Maruti will be giving the Swift a minor cosmetic update soon while Hyundai is also gearing up to launch the next generation i20 by the festive season.
So now it is time for the big question – Will facelift to the Fiat Punto help it beat Swift and i20? We feel that after giving the Grande Punto a thorough facelift, Fiat will surely sell more units than the outgoing version. However, it would be very difficult to say that the Punto will beat the Swift and i20. Both Maruti and Hyundai have a huge network of after-sales service throughout the entire country while Fiat has very few service stations. Sure they are increasing their network too, but it will take a lot of time to convince buyers that the Italian automaker will be able to match the service provided by its Japanese and Korean rivals.
Buyers in this segment also have a perception that Fiat vehicles have expensive spare parts and they are not reliable. Fiat will have to come up with unique strategies and marketing campaigns to change this impression that buyers already have. So, we conclude by saying that even though the facelifted Grande Punto will help Fiat gain a lot of sales, we feel it will take some time for the vehicle to match its rivals’ sales numbers.