For over a year now the crossover or compact SUV Segment has been dominated by the Ford Ecosport. Before the release of this car however this segment was relatively untouched or unmarked territory for car makers in India. However with the large success of the Ecosport more car manufactures are bringing in crossover versions of their cars to the market. In 2014 Volkswagen came out with the Polo Cross and Toyota with the Etios Cross. Both these cars were largely based on the hatchbacks sold by the companies the Polo and the Etios Liva respectively. The next company to follow the trend is now Fiat. I understand that is a little late and my apologies for that. The car has been on the market for a little over a month now and like the polo cross and etios cross it doesn’t seem to have disturbed the throne held by the Ecosport much but its early days yet. However I can tell you that the Fiat Avventura has all the tools to dethrone the Ecosport. Only time will tell if that happens. The Avventura like the Volkswagen and Toyota offering in this segment is largely based on the Punto Evo on the outside as well as in. Its priced a little higher than the Punto Evo starting at Rs 5,99,064 (Ex-showroom Delhi) compared to Rs 4,55,724 (ex-Showroom Delhi). However you do get more for extra money you pay.
Coming to the whole concept of a crossover or a compact SUV, is too maximize space within the limits. All the cars in this segment feel a lot bigger than the cars they are based on. This is due to various changes made to the car. These cars can also be used for more adventurous activates. Although they may not be thoroughbred SUV’s they can tackle a bit off-road and still offer all the luxuries a hatchback offers. Now with the Avventura, Fiat says that with this car ‘Boring is Dead’. So lets see if it really does liven up things.
On the outside the Fiat Avventura looks a lot like the Punto Evo barring a few things which help distinguish it. The Skid Plate on the front bumper being one such feature. Its gives quite a macho look to the car and adds protection for when you start to feel a little adventurous. Next as you look towards the side of the car you will find the side body cladding which adds protection and yet again contributes to the macho look of the car but the plastic used does feel a bit hard and looks dull with some of the bright colors available with this car. Also you can’t help but notice the roof rails on the car.
One more feature which will most defiantly please the adventurous side of you is the roof rails. These roof rails can be used to carry your bike if you ever feel the need for a bike ride outside of town. Now coming to the most stand out difference. The spare wheel. Yes. The spare wheel in the Avventura is mounted on the tail gate in quite an ingenious way. In most crossovers or compact SUV’s the spare tire is mounted on the boot lid and since the wheel is quite heavy & to avoid inconvenience the boot is hinged on the side and opens like a door.
In the Avventura however the wheel is mounted on an Arm which is connected and hinged on the Rear Bumper not the boot lid. So when you try opening the boot the wheel is unlocked first. So all you got to do is pull the leaver on the handle of the spare wheel cover and move the wheel to the side and then open the boot as you would on a regular car. Sounds a bit complicated but you will realize that it also aids you in removing the spare wheel when needed. The Avventura also has a sporty exhaust tip which adds to the look of the car.
The Overall shape of the car is borrowed from the Punto which is not such a bad thing. It has the perfect amount of curves which lend to a very smooth shape and is quite appealing to look at.
The Interior of the Avventura is the same in terms of layout to the ones found in the Punto Evo as well as the Linea. There are differences however. The most noticeable being the High Terrain Gauges. The gauges are found at the top of the centre console and consist of a compass, tilt meter and inclinometer. This feature is unique to the Avventura and is not available is any other car in its class. The compass is a fixed card one that gives directions every 45 degrees so if you want to know your exact heading then its best not to rely on this compass.
The tilt meter and inclinometer however work a lot more precisely. The next difference is the color scheme used for the dash. It doesn’t follow the black and beige color scheme followed in the other cars but where there was beige fabric on the dash you will now find a kind of camouflage colored fabric. However on the door panels a dark brown shade of fabric is used. This contrasting color scheme is something I found to be quite funky but wasn’t to my taste.
The seats are quite soft but support for the legs if you are tall can be an issue. There is a bit more space on offer in both the front and rear in terms of legroom than in the Punto and also in terms of headroom. The feature list is the same as in the Punto with the exception of the High Terrain gauges which is available only with the Avventura. You get steering mounted controls, Trip meter, Aux & USB inputs for the Music system, Bluetooth ( Blue & Me from Microsoft ) with Voice recognition, Climate Control, Central Locking, etc… the list goes on quite a bit but yes this is quite a stocked car.
There is a bit more boot space on offering thanks to the spare wheel being shifted and also you get ambient lighting which adds a touch of class to the whole car at night and gives a real calming atmosphere. The overall build quality of the cabin and interiors is a good but can be improved to the standards set by Volkswagen with the Polo Cross but no doubting the interior is definitely something that stays true to the theme of the whole car.
Engine & Driving Dynamics
Here is where you will find a bit more difference between the Punto Evo and the Avventura. The Avventura shares the same engines as the Punto Evo. The 92 BHP diesel and the 89 BHP petrol but changes have been made to the suspension and ride height of the car to make it more suitable to use off-road.
The Diesel engine being the more powerful and also having more torque than the petrol feels quicker although it does have a bit of turbo lag. But once you cross 2300 RPM it picks up speed quite well. The diesel engine is FIAT’s 1.3L Multijet engine. The engine has 92bhp to play with and this comes in @ 4000RPM and 207NM of [email protected] The Petrol is FIAT’s 1.4L Fire Unit and has a power rating of 89 BHP @6000 RPM and torque is rated at 115NM @4500RPM. The petrol engine does feel quite underpowered for this car. The Avventura is heavier than the Punto Evo for which the petrol engine felt adequate but the added weight really tells as the engine does seem to struggle to build speed when you put your foot down. The diesel is better in that regard thanks to the extra torque. The petrol Engine however is quite refined and makes a nice noise past 3000RPM. The diesel engine is not the best in terms of refinement when compared to its competitors but tops them for power and sportiness.
The Fiat Avventura has re-tuned suspension and raised ride height to serve its purpose as a compact SUV or CUV (Contemporary Urban Vehicle) as FIAT likes to call it. The new ride height is 205mm which is quite high. In fact it’s almost SUV territory. Now with this increased ride height the most obvious thing which will come to mind is that the handling of the car will have been compromised. It has but not to the extent you would imagine. The Fiat engineers have done a wonderful job in stiffening the suspension to minimize body roll but still maintain amazing ride quality. The Avventra soaks up the potholes and the bumps quite well and thanks to the SUV like ride height you won’t have to worry about the car bottoming out on any large speed breakers. This car can take the corners quite well too. There is a bit of body roll but the Avventura maintains it composure in the corners. The 16inch alloy wheels with 205/55 tires are to thank as well for that composure.
The steering is the same hydraulic unit as found in the Punto Evo. It allows the driver to place the car exactly where he wants it and is weighted beautifully. The feedback from the steering is the best in its class as well.
Areas For Improvement:
– Interior Build Quality for Fiat cars has improved but needs to improve much more to keep pace with some of its competitors and some plastics are a bit hard.
– The car needs more powerful engines. Its about time Fiat brought new Engines to India especially a petrol one.
The Fiat Avventura is a refreshing addition to the Crossover Segment. It’s a car built with a purpose and serves that purpose pretty well. It’s a very capable car to use for small off-road purposes and is defiantly well engineered. It should offer stiff competition to the Segment king the Ford Ecosport but like I said at the beginning. Only Time Will Tell.