Italian car maker Fiat has been known for churning out enthusiast cars since the launch of the first generation Palio here in India. Although the car maker maintains a good reputation for building driver oriented cars overseas, Fiat failed to make a mark in the market despite being one of the earliest arrivals to the Indian automotive scene. This was partly due to lack of a good service network and expensive spare parts. Sadly, the Italian marque retired from the Indian market soon after.
Fiat however, not one to back down, made its big comeback a few years ago with their critically acclaimed Punto hatchback and the Linea sedan. However, with the advent of the Fluidic i20 and Volkswagen’s big debut in India, the Italian car maker was overshadowed once more.
The 2014 Delhi Auto Expo saw Fiat introduce the Avventura Crossover concept indicating that the manufacturer may add another car to its Indian portfolio. The Punto based crossover brought in numerous new elements that spruced up the rather conservative design of the Punto. This new aggressive design philosophy will now be implemented on the next generation Punto. Dubbed the Punto Evo, Various spy shots and leaked images suggest the hatchback is near completion and will hit showrooms by September/October of 2014. This model named as 2014 Fiat Punto facelift alias Fiat Punto Evo.
The main difference between the standard Punto and the Punto Evo is the all new front fascia. The restyled headlights are far more aggressive in design. Based off the standard Punto, the new swept back headlights grace the car with a stronger road presence. The chrome lined front grille and fog lamp enclosures add the much needed upmarket feel to the hatch.
The rear end sees an introduction of clear lens tail lamps and a redesigned bumper that sports chrome garnishing along the lower section of the bumper. The car will also sport revised alloy design.
Although the interiors have been revamped, the cabin has been redone to match that of the manufacturer’s Linea sedan. The cabin is now more upmarket with the dashboard featuring a new dual colour scheme of beige and black. However, the Punto Evo’s most powerful avatar, the 90 HP variant will sport an all black theme in keeping with the sporty appeal of the hatch. Significantly more upmarket than the current gen model’s, the interiors of the Punto Evo now features chrome embellishments on the AC vents, instrument cluster and various other regions of the cabin.
The Punto Evo also offers a rear AC vent for the passengers at the back, one of only two hatchbacks available in the market to sport such a feature. Although spy shots suggest that the AC vent does not have controls for exposure levels.
Under the Hood:
Fiat will not be introducing any new diesel engines for the latest gen Punto. The Evo will carry over the same petrol and diesel options from the current hatch. The petrol engine is a 1.2 Lfour cylinder unit that produces 67 bhp @ 6000 RPM and 96 Nm @ 2500 RPM while the diesel variants will have the same 1.3 L turbocharged multijet engine available in two states of tune. The Sport variant will use the more powerful form that produces 90 HP and 209 Nm of torque while the other, less powerful variant produces 89 HP and 115 Nm of torque.
Power is sent to the front wheels via a 5 speed manual transmission. However, no news of an autobox or AMT variants any time soon.
Though the Fiat Punto offers superb drive dynamics, the hatch fails to look the part and with competitors such as the VW Polo and the Hyundai i20, the Punto Evo has some tough battles ahead. While the Polo facelift has already been launched, both the Punto Evo and next gen Hyundai i20 are yet to be unveiled.
Bottom Line: With multiple leaked images of the completed Punto Evo doing the rounds all over the internet, it seems Hyundai may be the last to enter the fray. However, the market leading i20 may best its competitors once again if Fiat does not deliver its hatch with the most desirable price tag and after sales support.
Image Source: Indian Autos Blog; Autocarindia