So here it is. I have always been a deep admirer of European cars, especially hatchbacks. Everytime I see one on TV, I flung the remote aside and keep my eyes glued to the screen. They have adorned my computer screen as wallpapers - both at home and office. A major influence of these beauties is because of my affection for movies from US and Europe. So when the opportune time for my first car came by, there were no two thoughts about the origins of the car. But to add some spice to the knock-out race of selecting the right car for me (and have fun doing so) I added some Japanese, Korean, Indian and American competitors. So the list was now a little longer. Something like this - Prospects - Fiat, VW, Skoda, Suzuki, Nissan, Hyundai, Tata, Ford & Chevrolet Well, to keep this initial ownership and buying review crisp and to-the-point, I will tell you what I personally felt about these cars when I tested them. But first, my requirements. Requirements - 1. Fuel Type - It had to be a diesel. I stay not too far from my office in Hinjewadi, Pune. Hence there was no question of crossing the 1000 or 1500 km mark, required to justify a diesel purchase. But at the same time I stay very close to the highway and that aspect of my stay was to be exploited real good. 2. Power - Lots of it. I didn't want to end up with a car which was sluggish, that it would kill other positive aspects like looks, features, etc. And the fact that I am a spirited driver, demanded a lot of it. 3. Features - I wanted a car that was rich in features. This would be my first car and I would be keeping it for long. I do not believe in the Hypothesis of Resale Value as my personal experience of the same on 2 wheelers have always indicated adverse results. 4. Strong Build - To match the highway runs and lot of mile crunching. 5. Style - Ultimately it has to be an eye-candy if it has to be European. 6. Fuel Efficiency - And staying true to a Gujju wallet, it should be loaded but give out as little as possible. The Process - Once the list of candidates was ready it was time to put them to a test and judge them on various categories mentioned above. The measuring scale was Good, Bad & Ugly. **Please note - The below classification of cars based on various aspects is my personal opinion. They may or may not be to your liking** Suzuki Swift Good - Style, Engine, Drive Dynamics, Features Bad - Leg Space, 'Rattle-Touille' image Ugly - Illogical waiting periods for the existing model; Unbearable wait for the new one Suzuki Ritz Good - Style, Engine, Features, Ingress-Egress Bad - Drive Dynamics, 'Rattle-Touille' image Ugly - Nothing really Hyundai i20 Good - Style Bad - Badge value (not European) Ugly - Price, Steering issues Nissan Micra Good - Engine (fantastic 1.5ltr) Bad - Style, Ugly - Price, Features, Network Chevrolet Beat Good - Features, Price, Style Bad - No diesel (held on my purchase for some time but no news yet) Ugly - Didn't like the build quality Ford Figo Good - Handling, Highly Customizable (as the company doesn't offer anything), Build, Service (improving) Bad - Style Ugly - Features (or the lack of it), No rear power windows, No electronic ORVMs, No 60:40 split, No Alloys, Flimsy bumpers, etc. etc. etc. Indica Vista Good - Fully loaded with features, Price, Build Bad - The way Tata Motors treats its customers and its cars Ugly - Niggles (mostly perceived as a lot of Tata Indicas on road are not immaculately maintained) Skoda Fabia Good - German engineering, Build Bad - Price, Style Ugly - Low on Features, 3 cylinder engine VW Polo Good - Styling (second best looking Hatch after Punto), Build Bad - Price, Features Ugly - Power, 3 cylinder engine, Dealer attitude Fiat Punto Good - Styling (best looking Hatch on Indian roads today), Build, Power, Features (loaded with anything & everything you can dream of + some more that you cannot) Bad - Perceived quality of plastics and music (I felt the music output to be sufficient for an average ear. Only the True Music afficianados would mind it) Ugly - A.S.S. Car Selection, Booking and Delivery Selection - So ultimately the Fiat Grande Punto emerged as the winner. It satisfied a lot of my requirements and fared well on some features that didn't really matter. Hence without any further delay, I was scouting for a good deal for my Punto. Booking - As I didn't face any trouble in selecting the right car, selecting the dealer was a major headache. As I currently reside in Pune, Ms. Pandit Auto was the only available option to me. I didn't want to deal with them as per the suggestions of several members on T-BHP. Thought of being a little adventurous and after some discussions with other BHPians, went ahead and started talking to dealers in Mumbai (which I later repented to some extent due to a lot of documentation hassles) Finally I chose to offer the privilege of delivering my first car to me to Fortune Cars Pvt. Ltd. @ Sakinaka, Mumbai. Booked the car on 25th April, 2011. I did face a lot of hassles with banks sanctioning my loan because of multi-city adventure. Major documents carry Surat address (my hometown), working in Pune and buying & registering the car in Mumbai - seemed weird to the bank to no extent. (How do I explain to these naive bank executives that a true car lover can go to any extent in pursuit of his beloved?) Registration - Had been constantly following up with the sales girl at Fortune Cars with regards to the registration process. They were really helpful and did most of the things as promised. Didn't go for any number selection as it really didn't matter, though a lot of my friends and family members were very much interested in me going for one. Delivery - Delivery was scheduled for a Sunday as the showroom is in a semi-holiday mood. It remains open only for deliveries. My parents informed me about the right 'mahurat' to take the car and I conveyed the same to the sales girl. As informed, the car was ready with the after-market fittings - mattings, sun-films and teflon coating. Car cover was not in stock, so a visit to the showroom is pending in the near future. Took the car home after visiting a Sai Mandir right outside my apartment. Next day, drove my infant baby (not by size, but by its tenure in my life) all the way to Pune in the splendid weather. Initial Observations - Clutch is long, so have to go all the way down before I shift the gear. Dead pedal is a boon on the Punto. Suspension is super awesome. After a small run within Mumbai the night of the delivery, I took the car to Pune next morning. Punto is in its own league on the highway and glides on the road like a hot-knife-in-butter. Space is enough in the front and back. Boot is deep for those weekend geatways for a family of 3-4. Haven't put it to test for long trips. First gear is merely to get the car in motion. Second gear helps move around obstacles in traffic. Third gear is helpful for normal driving in the city and is a pleasure to drive as the turbo kicks in and car stays agile. Fourth & Fifth gears are pure bliss. Negative point here is that the steering cloumn can be felt moving when clutch is completely pressed and also when the left leg is placed touching the wall. (What's with the super small footwell?) Engine – Punto is a heavy car. It requires some serious effort from the Multijet to get this car moving. 90hp tuning does lend its support from the second gear onwards and after that it is a bullet that can kill with its weight as much with its speed. Love the way turbo pulls the car. Clutch is medium (neither soft, nor hard) and the engine responds to slight movement of the clutch. Space - I could say it’s a bit better than the other cars around. Ample space in the rear for my parents who unfortunately suffer from Arthritis. Front seat has a good travel range and the cabin feels roomy though dark. Everything inside is in various shades of grey and hence not very pleasing to old eyes. I like it this way though. Handling - Its a bundle of smiles. Handling is precise and works similar to a Digital Camera - Point and Shoot. You point it in a direction, it goes there without any fuss. Design - Do I need to say anything in this department? Designed jointly by the legendary Mr. Giugiaro and Fiat Design Centre, the Punto personifies Italian design. Practicality - I have always felt some vibes coming from each car that tells me something. Figo tells me that you can crunch miles-after-miles in it - a real tourer. Polo is hungry for those funfilled city drives with your pals - the hip car. i20 is a high society lass on the move - attitude bordering on arrogance. Punto invites me to explore newer places - urban or rural - with its strong build quality, never-out-of-fashion styling and unmatched comfort. Equipments - The Punto is a poor man's rich car! It is equipped with all the necessary bells & whistles. The fogs and headlamp dim are good. Stereo output is decent and is to my would-be-better-half's liking, hence no issues. The seats are countered well and provide good lumbar support. Was fortunate to drive my car for long on the first day itself, hence was able to check all of these rather secondary paraphernalia before I inform you guys about them. Accessories & Modifications - Art Leather Seat Covers are an urgent priority. Will be changing the tyres to Michelin, Yokohama or Hankook at the first tyre change. Component speakers (JBL, Pioneer, Rockford Fosgate) along with an amplifier are last ones in line for modifications. Some grudges - Engine and Gearbox are a bit rough/coarse. I have driven it only for a few hundred kilometers and am aware that this roughness wouldn't be felt later on, once I cross the run-in 3000 KM mark. Fit & finish is not upto the mark. Not that I wasn't aware of it. Can't help but think what is Fiat upto by taking the consumers for granted and serving them with such sub-standard plastic when other companies are falling head-over-heels to please them? Car cover not in stock since months. Have read other posts and got to know that there is an acute shortage of car cover from Fiat's side and even the dealers are waiting since long! Car Cover shortage in today's day and time? Astonishing! Lastly, I owe a lot to this forum and numerous members who knowingly-unknowingly have guided many clueless people like me in the right direction. Looking forward to meet you guys soon; only this time I would be accompanied by my girlfriend - Fiat Grande Punto 1.3 MJD Emotion Pack 90 HP Tuscan Wine Will upload pictures in some time.