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Fiat Punto Pure First Drive Review

What is it?

The Fiat Punto Pure is the Italian automaker’s effort to get some sales going in the lucrative B-segment. It is a revival of sorts of the Grande Punto but in a more affordable avatar. What you basically get is an iconic design with budget trimmings that is offered in both petrol and diesel guises. 

The overall look is dominated by the low-slung forward sloping design. In silhouette, you could say that this Punto Pure resembles a designer heel. The face gets a tiny grille with bug-eyed headlights while the sides are dominated by the massively flared wheel arches which give the Punto Pure its squat stance. Our car had been fitted with alloy wheels which are an optional extra as the standard car comes with steel wheels. 

What really caught my attention is the gorgeous backside of this car. It is curvy, voluptuous and will surely demand a second look. This is one of the few cars which have managed to keep the concept of vertically stacked lamps contemporary. It may be a slightly older car but as compared to its rivals, this Punto still looks quite sporty.

How is it on the inside?

Sparse. This is perhaps the best term I could use to describe the cabin. It is in essence the same one that was offered with the base model of the Grande Punto when it was launched around seven years ago. The whole dashboard has been trimmed out in black comprising of hard and grainy surfaces save for the steering wheel  which has soft touch plastics.

A saving grace for what is otherwise a drab affair is the instrument cluster which gets amber backlighting and has a comprehensive digital display. It has two trip meters  and most importantly a DTE (distance-to-empty) option.

The front seats are two-toned with some amount of side bolstering but they lack under thigh support due to the odd positioning of the seat base. However, there is sufficient headroom and legroom even for a ‘generously’ proportioned human like myself.

As compared to its rivals (read Hyundai i10 and Chevrolet Beat), the Punto has decent space at the rear but it still can’t seat three in comfort at the back. The floor though, is flat and the rear seat folds and tumbles over to reveal a vast boot space.

 The basicness of this car is visible in its feature list which is, like I said at the beginning of this section, quite sparse. You get air conditioning, height adjustment for the steering wheel and internally adjustable ORVMs. But, Fiat has left out central locking, a given feature for even the most basic cars these days.

The car in our photos has also been fitted with the basic Fiat 1-DIN music system which is an optional extra. On the practicality front, there are four tiny door pockets, two slots on the centre console and two spaces on the dashboard.

What is like to drive?

The Punto Pure is offered with two engines – a petrol and a diesel. The former is a 1.2-litre unit producing 67bhp and 96Nm of peak torque while the diesel is the 1.3-litre Multijet unit producing 75bhp and 197Nm. Both engines are offered with a five-speed manual.

First the diesel – it gets off the line easier than the petrol thanks to nearly 100Nm more torque but is slower through the rev-range.The turbo spools up post 1800rpm and there is a decent mid-range after that. Second gear is good for ambling around in traffic while out on the highway you can cruise at 100kmph at 2500rpm in fifth gear.

The petrol on the other hand, needs to be revved hard to tap into its potential. It is slower off the line than the diesel, revs cleaner but seems to run out of breath quicker. Bumper-to-bumper traffic is dealt with by constant shifting between first and second while out on the highway you hit the magical 100kmph mark at 3500rpm, in fifth. Not surprisingly, the petrol is the quieter of the two.

If there is one thing that Fiat manages to get right every time, it is the ride quality. Most bumps and imperfections are absorbed with ease and no more than a muted thud is sent into the cabin. The diesel feels a bit stiffer at slower speeds compared to the petrol courtesy revised damper settings to cater to the increased weight. A high ground clearance means you go over most of the imperfections on our roads without having to slow down much. The hydraulic power steering weighs up correctly and is responsive both at low speeds and high.

Why should I buy one?

The Punto Pure is a bare bones car with not much to offer in terms of features. It doesn’t set benchmarks when it comes to quality or fit and finish either. But what you do get is a large, good looking car with wonderful ride quality which gives one the impression that the Pure actually belongs a segment higher. It’s got good dynamics as well and we like the responsive hydraulic power steering too. However, there is another catch to buying the Punto Pure, especially for Fiat fans which is that an additional Rs 50,000 can get the equivalent base petrol or diesel model of the Punto Evo. It has the same engines and feature list, but is more modern and upmarket looking .

Where does it fit in?

The Fiat Punto Pure has been priced at Rs 4.54 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) for the petrol and Rs 5.63 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) for the diesel. It competes with the likes of the Tata Tiago, Chevrolet Beat and Hyundai i10.  The Tiago’s equivalently priced variants are Rs 4.47 lakh and Rs 5.54 lakh (Revotron XT (O) petrol and Revotorq XZ diesel). The Chevrolet Beat in the LS petrol variant (Rs 4.66 lakh) and LTZ diesel variant (Rs 5.60 lakh) are the direct rivals to the Punto Pure. Finally, the Hyundai i10, which is offered only as petrol has the Magna 1.1 variant as a rival to the Punto Pure petrol.

Photos: Kapil Angane

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