If you were to blindfold a new Linea owner and make him sit in the driver’s seat then don’t be surprised if he shouts Linea! The dashboard layout, steering wheel, position of the audio system, climate control buttons and the instrument cluster are a straight lift off from the new Linea.
The Punto never had premium upmarket interiors that matched cars like the VW Polo and the Hyundai i20. It is still not the best, but the interior now feels well appointed and gets an upmarket feel. An interesting touch that will make its owner smile is the orange ambient lighting that glows when the headlamps are switched on. The rear wipers start automatically once you engage the reverse gear and we found this to be a very clever feature.
The fit and finish is one department Fiat hasn’t managed to get right even with the new car. In comparison to the Polo which has the best-in-class cabin quality, the Evo lags behind. The new i20 will be launched soon and is also expected to carry similar levels of fit and finish as the Polo.
The Punto was made for the European markets and although Fiat India has tried to Indianise its looks, the car is still European from inside. The seats are big enough to support drivers of most sizes and heights. Finding an ideal driving position is a task as I found out while driving the car and I ended up being uncomfortable. The steering wheel is still oddly placed and the adjustment for rake is limited which makes it difficult to find a correct driving position, also, the clutch travel is very long.
The car lacks ample legroom at the rear for tall people, but the headroom is marginally better than the Polo and the Swift. The rear seats are supportive and wide, three abreast in the car is just about comfortable.
The Punto gets Fiat’s famed Blue & Me audio system powered by Microsoft that stores your contacts, can read out SMS and even take voice commands. The AUX and the USB cable ports are now placed above the gear lever and are easy to access, but it could have been convenient had they made a slot for them on the display like in the Polo. The sound quality of the system is good. The climate control system and a rear AC vent help maintain ideal temperature inside the cabin. Although, we tested the car while it was raining, we are sure it will keep its occupants cool even in our hot summers.
The Punto Evo has 280 litre of boot space and gets 60-40 split rear seats in case you are carrying more than essentials. But, loading up large and heavy cargo might be a task because of the high loading lip. The Volkswagen Polo has the largest boot space in the class at 294 litre and the Swift has the least at 205 litre.