Finally the Abarth Punto is here and we have got our hands on it. Fiat is enhancing its product portfolio range and the new ones to enter are the Abarth Punto hatchback and the Avventura, powered by Abarth. This is the new hot hatchback from the Italian car market in India. If you recall Fiat was the first to get the Palio 1.6 GTX back in 2001 and after that there haven’t been many hot hatchbacks that our market has witnessed. We take it for a quick spin on the roads of Delhi to find out how good is this hot hatchback.
DESIGN AND STYLE ;
Abarth has made quite a lot of interesting changes to the exterior of the Punto Evo to complement its drivetrain change but because Fiat also has to keep the pricing point in mind and thus were on a tight budget and it shows.The changes made to the exterior of the Punto Evo are subtle but it definitely looks hotter compared to the other hatchbacks. Towards the front profile it gets chrome engulfed grilles, while the door handles and exhaust tips also gets wrapped around in chrome. The rest of the car remains identical to the Punto Evo. The other differences that you will also notice comes in the form of those Abarth badges which replaces the Fiat badge and also the Abarth style racing graphics positioned towards the lower half of the side profile of the car.
The stylish 16 inch scorpion alloy wheels which also gets wrapped with lower profile tyres but however take a closer look and you will notice the low profile tyres leaves a huge gap between the wheel arches. Fiat also has reduced the ride height of the hatchback furthermore to perfect the handling of this hatch.
CABIN AND COMFORT ;
The all-black theme inside the cabin is exactly the same as the Punto Evo 90 HP Sport variant. However, there are some Abarth specific details that makes this driver oriented car more special. While entering the cabin you would notice a neat Abarth branded door sill. Then there is the yellow and red stitching on the seats and gear lever. The aluminium pedals having Scorpion logos look great and also get rubber lining so that you don’t slip off the pedals. The revised instrument cluster with red and yellow elements looks more dramatic than the boring grey instrument panel of the Punto Evo. The leather wrapped steering feels great to hold and the key fob also gets the Abarth badge.
The small screen audio system has been carried over from the regular hatch, which is a big disappointment. Considering the fact that Fiat is offering a 6.5-inch touchscreen unit with navigation system on the lower trims of the Punto Evo in the form of Sportivo edition, why can’t they provide the same on the Abarth, which is relatively quite expensive. Having said that, the audio system on the Abarth now gets music streaming with Bluetooth. Earlier you could only make/receive calls via Bluetooth but no music streaming. The steering mounted controls can be used for controlling calls and music along with the voice command system. The audio system just sounds average like the Punto Evo, nothing extraordinary.
The automatic climate control system is effective and easy to use and the car also gets an AC vent for rear passengers. The quality of materials remain inconsistent, similar to the Punto Evo. There are some soft touch materials and tactile buttons but at the same time you can also find hard plastics and flimsy materials like the glovebox lid, door handles, steering adjust lever, etc. Space inside the cabin remains average for rear passengers as there is limited legroom and headroom for tall passengers. The front seats are big and supportive having seat height adjust for the driver. 280-litres of boot space is quite accommodating for keeping luggage for long trips. The spare wheel is a 15-inch steel space saver.
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION ;
As we expected earlier, this latest hatchback has arrived with a 1.4-litre, T-Jet petrol engine fitted under its bonnet. This is a turbocharged motor, which is coupled with a 5-speed manual transmission gear box that distributes power to its front wheels. This drive train comprises of 4-cylinders and 16-valves altogether making a total displacement capacity of 1368cc. It is also incorporated with a multi point fuel injection system for optimum power output and performance. It has the ability to churn out a maximum power of 145bhp at 5500rpm and yields a peak torque output of 212Nm between 2000 to 4000rpm. This mill is claimed to return a fuel economy of about 16.13 Kmpl.
This sensational product draws the power from a 1.4-litre T-Jet petrol engine, whose capabilities are boosted to improve power output. However, this doesn’t seem to have affected its fuel efficiency, as it is claimed to give a mileage of approximately 16.3 Kmpl (as per ARAI).Like mentioned above, the Italian automobile firm has tuned this 1368cc power plant enabling it to generate more power. As a result of this, it is able to churn out 145bhp of maximum power along with 212Nm of hammering torque.
RIDE AND HANDLING ;
Fiat Punto Abarth is easily the best driver’s car in the under INR 12 lakh segment. It excels in all those points where the Punto failed to impress, vis-à-vis – an under-powered engine, sporty interiors and so on. Tuned to deliver performance, the engine is responsive, while steering is razor sharp. With this setup, you will love to keep taking on those fast corners again and again.What you won’t like is the stiff suspension setting. This makes the ride quality in city a little uncomfortable. Gear shifts are easy, while overtaking on the highway is done effortlessly. NVH levels are good, and so are the brakes.
BRAKING AND SAFETY ;
The Abarth Punto is offered in a single variant that comes standard with safety features including ABS, EBD, dual front airbags, seatbelts with pretensioners and load limiters. The Punto was always praised for its strong build and structural strength and hence is one of the safest hatchbacks in India. The Abarth Punto is available in over 100 dealerships across India and there are 125 service outlets currently, which Fiat plans to grow further. The hot hatch comes with 3 years/1,00,000 kms standard warranty and you can also opt for 2 years/upto 1,50,000 kms extended warranty.
If performance is all that you look for Abarth modified Punto Evo is your car. It remains largely same on the inside which seems a little dull, exteriors are sporty and the new additions on the outside make it appear enchanting but the void between tyres and wheel arches spoils the overall look. Engine is indubitably powerful and vouches satiety in terms of power supply with no dearth for power. The five-speed manual does the trick; power sent to front wheels grunts it giving right start. Colour contrasting body graphics are one of the pros, but mileage is low which could be a letdown in a mileage obsessed market like India. Price is again high, and as we had mentioned in the beginning, will anyone opt for a car that is heavy on pocket and demands high running cost, frankly answer to this question is still uncertain given the new product from Fiat wearing Abarth badge is a robust hatchback that vouches a power-packed performance.