What is it?
A new derivative of the Fiat Avventura crossover, which in turn is a derivative of the Punto hatchback. Clearly, Fiat is enjoying this ‘offshoots’ idea. This is the Avventura Urban Cross and it looks identical to its namesake. Well, almost.
The Urban Cross was first showcased early this year at the Auto Expo, where it sported large built in LEDs and bezel around the headlamps. The production version, however, has skimped on this, and instead, it gets conventional Punto Evo headlights. There is a large stylish grille that helps set it apart along with new roof rails. Furthermore, the 17-inch wheels from the show have made way for 16-inch alloys.
The Fiat Avventura Urban Cross (long name) can be had with two drivetrains – a petrol and a diesel. The petrol gets a 'Powered by Abarth' badging with Scorpion alloys. Otherwise, the two look identical. The biggest difference between the Avventura and the Urban Cross is the missing rear-mounted spare tyre along with the elaborate setup just to be able to open the hatch.
How is it on the inside?
The Avventura Urban Cross gets a dual tone interior with the same layout as its other Fiat siblings. The plastic quality isn’t great with hard plastic and buttons all round. Plus, the instrument cluster looks dated too. The pedal placement is still offset and seating feels high even in the lowest setting. In-cabin dimensions remain unchanged from the Avventura as well but thanks to beige being used on the dashboard, door trims and the seats, the cabin feels a little airier. As for seats, the squab upfront isn't overtly soft and thigh and lateral support is adequate. There isn’t abundance of space in this car, particularly at the rear with limited knee and shoulder room. Three at the back, as a result, is a squeeze.
Coming to the equipment, the Urban Cross gets the five-inch touchscreen infotainment system from the Punto and Linea as standard. It doesn’t have the best touch response, but it comes with an easy to use UI. And, it gets navigation support too. The Urban Cross also gets automatic climate control, rear AC vents, and on the safety front, there’s ABS and front two airbags. This, however, is for the top end Emotion variant available only with the petrol version. And even though it gets ambient lighting, there’s no reversing camera or parking sensors. The diesel in the meantime has to settle for the Dynamic trim as its top spec version. And as a result, it misses out on all the above-mentioned Emotion features including airbags. It does get ABS, though.
As far as practicality goes, thanks to the absence of centre-console meters from the Avventura, Urban Cross now gets a cubbyhole in its place. Otherwise storage spaces aren't plenty and the boot space is same as the Avventura with a high loading lip. The boot can hold up to 280 litres but the prominent wheel arch intrusions in the boot will make utilising all of it challenging.
How does it drive?
As mentioned earlier, the Urban Cross is available with two engine options. First, let’s talk diesel. It is the same tried and tested 1.3-litre Multijet mill which produces 92bhp of max power and 209Nm of peak torque. The pronounced lag till the engine spins past 2,000rpm is still very much there. As is the strong mid-range past this point. So, even though the Urban Cross might not have the most linear of power deliveries, the nature and potency of the torque does give it good legs on the highway.
One can cruise at 100kmph at 2,400rpm in the fifth gear and simply step on the throttle to make an overtake. Moreover, the engine remains relatively quiet and refined even at three-digit speeds courtesy a nicely insulated cabin. City driving isn’t as pleasant. One has to constantly work the five-speed manual gearbox to make progress. And even though the clutch is light to operate, the rubbery gearshifts don’t make the constant shifting enjoyable. The engine itself tends to get noisy too when revved.
The petrol on the other hand is a joy to hear when revved. It is also pretty quick. The 138bhp 1.4-litre T-jet helps the Urban Cross post a 0-100kmph time of under 10 seconds. It has a slight lag while the turbo spools up, but from thereon the engine packs in a good punch. All that torque being sent to the front wheel means there is some torque steer under heavy acceleration. But it brings more of a smile than a frown.
Both the petrol and the diesel Urban Cross versions also score well on the ride and handling front. The ride is pliant and quiet and the car does not bounce around. The 205mm high ground clearance is a boon too, especially on our monsoon-ravaged roads. At higher speeds, it has a settled, confident ride with hardly any wallowing or cross wind buffeting affecting the car. The Urban Cross isn’t too bad around corners either. Not a lot of body roll, a steering that weighs up nicely, and brakes that bite well and tyres that aren’t short on grip. Between the diesel and petrol though, we’d take the petrol. Not only is it quicker, it also gets disc brakes all round instead of just at the front as is the case with the diesel.
Should I buy one?
The absence of the rear mount spare wheel has made the car lighter with a negligible difference in its performance as compared to the Avventura. However, this has resulted in reduction of Rs 50,000 in its price. This should thrill the automotive enthusiasts across the country looking for a crossover with tough built to tackle Indian road conditions. But then even for the good pricing bit, the deal-breaker can be the more up-market competitors and Fiat's developing service centres worrying buyers about the after-sales experience.
Where does it fit in?
Pictures by Kapil Angane