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Point Of Evolution: Fiat Punto Evo

From their rich cuisine to their zealous culture, Italy exudes a sense of passion and romance into everything they do. And this, of course, translates into the automobiles that come out of the country.

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Italian automobiles have won the hearts of people the world over with names like Ferrari, Maserati and Alfa Romeos that send our pulses racing. Today, Fiat dominates the automotive industry of Italy encompassing those very names along with nine other giants under its massive umbrella.

In 2013, Fiat (together with Chrysler) was the second largest European automaker by volumes produced, and the seventh in the world ahead of Honda, PSA Peugeot Citroën, Suzuki, Renault and Daimler AG. Long story short, the Fiat S.p.A is a name of epic proportions.

Rumor has it that Nepal might have been able to see the Fiat 500 grace our roads, if it weren’t for our subpar fuel quality. Nevertheless, Fiat has offered us a number of their vehicles amongst which the Punto and Linea stand out.

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Previously headed by the Batas Brothers Pvt. Ltd., Fiat will now be sold under the name of Life Automobile Pvt. Ltd. And, as their first course of action, they have launched the new Fiat Punto Evo in the Nepali market. Although only a midrange variant, the Dynamic, is available at the moment; the host of new features the evolved Punto boasts about made it something to look forward to. We put it to the test to experience the evolution for ourselves.

INTERIORS

The Fiat Punto Evo definitely gets your attention when you step into the cabin. The Fiat Punto Evo borrows much of its interiors from the New Linea including the dashboard, centre console and the instrument cluster. Its dual tone dashboard has very good finish and the stylish ambient lighting on the instrument along with fabric inserts on door trims and door inserts completed the premium feel.

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The instrument cluster features a number of selections ranging from programmable speed limit buzzer, real time mileage indicators to indications about whether any doors have been left ajar. The instrument cluster displays a digital clock, odometer, trip meter, distance to empty along with other telltale indications. The higher variant, Emotion, has even more creature comforts than the Dynamic, more than what you’d expect from a hatchback. The highest variant features automatic climate control, Bluetooth telephony

sms readout, steering mounted audio controls. Air bags and ABS are luxuries available only in the higher variant. It also boasts of features like automatic headlights, rain sensing wipers and rear air con vents.

Driver and passenger seats are amazingly comfortable, one of the best in its segment; however the space front does receive a blow if one of the inhabitants of the vehicle is larger than the average Nepali man (say over 6 feet tall). With either of the front seats slid back, there is barely any leg room in the back seat. However, for normal sized people, the Punto Evo comfortably seats 3 people in the back.

EXTERIORS

The Fiat Punto Evo’s predecessor was a good looking hatchback, but it was in need of an upgrade. Thankfully, it would be fair to say that the cosmetic overhaul of the Punto Evo has made it even better looking than before. Rechristened as per the international markets, the Punto Evo, gets a refreshed face that gains inspiration from the Avventura. That was not the plan, and the Punto Evo was supposed to get a different face, but the people at Fiat changed their minds after the overwhelming response the Avventura received at the 2014 Delhi Auto Expo.

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Up front, a massive trapezoidal front grille and swept back reindeer headlights steal the show which is well integrated with a redesigned bumper with chromed housing for the fog lamps. The bonnet sports a bulge with two prominent lines running down all the way to the Fiat logo which has been bumped up and placed above the grille.

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The side profile does remain the same, much like the rear. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t look splendid. The chrome treatment has  been carried on to the back end where the back lights are housed with chrome. The LED tail-lamps of the Punto Evo look gorgeous and are the same as the ones seen on the international version.

PERFORMANCE

When it comes to ride and handling, the Fiat Punto Evo is a treat. The driving position is perfect with appropriate visibility. Maneuvering the car in busy traffic may seem slightly heavy due to its hydraulic steering at first but it gets much lighter once you gain speed. The steering feels well weighted and confident even while cornering at high speeds which help you establish a connection with the car instantly. Combine it to the stiff suspensions and you have one of the most accurately steering cars in its segment. Sticking to the lines does come at the price of a significant amount of body roll but we’ll take it.

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It very easily adapts to the roads of Kathmandu and makes easy work of the potholes making for a very comfortable and smooth ride. Of course, since it does boast of the highest ground clearance in its segment, we put it to the test. Even on roads that you’d practically consider off-road terrain, the Punto Evo handled itself pretty well. Had it been any other car, our hearts would have jumped up to our throats and stayed there for some time.

Power delivery of the 1.2L variant we tested was satisfactory, although it lacked a sense of urgency. It doesn’t gallop like a wild stallion when you thrust your foot on the accelerator. The power range is best within the 2000rpm to 4000rpm band. Going any higher causes the car to make a lot of noise without showing much power gain. The gear box is also respectable considering that it went through little to no change from its predecessor, and the car is most fun to drive when you play with the gear shift to stay in the powerband.

VERDICT

The Punto Evo brings in a much needed evolution to the Fiat Punto. Yes, they might be predominantly cosmetic upgrades but that is usually only what you need when you already have a good car. The Punto Evo without a doubt is one of the models that you cannot ignore when considering a premium hatch, a market that already has cut throat competition. Italian designs that give the Punto Evo the European touch really gives it an aesthetic advantage over most other cars in its segment. The high ground clearance might play a pivotal role for many potential buyers considering its importance in the roads of Nepal. It would be even more amazing if the higher variant was also made available in our markets, a possibility the people at Life Automobiles have not completely shut out. Now, under new management, Fiat might be looking at a whole new chapter in Nepal. The upgraded Linea will also be coming and the chances of the Avventura surfacing in the country look bright. The Punto Evo satisfied us with its aesthetics and adaptability to our roads while not compromising on the ride quality. Add to it the precision in finishing and quality, and it is sure to make owners happy campers.

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SPECIFICATIONS

Engine Type: 4 cylinder 8V SOHC

Displacement: 1172cc

Fuel Type: Petrol

Maximum Power: 67.1bhp@6000rpm

Maximum Torque: 96Nm@2500rpm

Transmission: 5 speed manual

DIMENSIONS & WEIGHT

Length: 3987 mm

Width: 1687 mm

Height: 1495 mm

Wheelbase: 2510 mm

Ground Clearance: 185mm

Tyre Size: 165/80 R14

Suspension Front: McPherson Strut

Suspension Rear: Torsion Beam

Brakes Front: Ventilated Disc Brakes

Brakes Rear: Drum Brakes

Curb Weight: 1105 kg

Fuel Tank: 45L

PRICE: NRs. 26,95,000

COLOURS: Tucson Wine, Minimal Grey, Exotica Red, Gold, Silver

ALTERNATIVE CHOICES:

Hyundai i20, Volkswagen Polo, Suzuki Celerio

CONTACT:

Life Automobile Pvt. Ltd.

Ph. No: 4004644 | 4004645

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