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Fiat Punto 1.2 Dynamic BNW - Review

Discussion in 'Punto 1.2 Fire' started by RMZ, Mar 26, 2013.

  1. RMZ


    Hello everyone,
    I would like to share the initial ownership review of my Punto 1.2. We upgraded from a Maruti Alto to a Punto 1.2 Dynamic. Its been 16 days and around 400kms now.

    What’s good:

    • Heavy duty chassis and suspension, impressive high speed stability
    • Steering doesn't feel light at high speeds like our previous car
    • Feels solid inside out with a good overall build
    • Pretty good NVH levels with windows up
    • VFM as per the current feature list
    • Dead pedal is a boon

    What could have been better:

    • Lacks outright punch, esp with A/C on and passengers on-board.
    • Gearbox doesn’t like quick shifts.
    • Some plastics are of horrible quality.
    • I’m not a fan of its looks(esp, the rear) unlike the majority here.
    • I’m having some trouble with its ergonomics. Once, after some good amount of crawling through traffic, my right foot ankles were paining. This hasn’t happened with our previous car.


    Selection & Booking:
    We were contemplating to buy a petrol hatchback below 6lacs(not a penny more) and had shortlisted Swift, Polo, i20, Figo, Sail etc. Initially Punto was not in the list at all. My only choice among these was Swift and I rejected all the others for one reason or the other. Dad did not like the new Swift’s rear end design plus he said the rear was short on space. He also counted the boot space which was lower than others. So, Dad worked out his own logic and initially went ahead with Sail. I hated this car so much that I had made up my mind to not even bother to have a look at it when it comes home. It looked downright cheap and the insides looked two decades old. I gotta tell this here. When was the last time anyone saw the power window buttons placed ahead of the gear lever? I remember only Tata Indica/Indigo, but that was more targeted at taxi market and less at family buyers. The interiors screamed "cheap". Chevrolet was taking Indians for granted and the sales chart shows. To my luck, Chevrolet dealer said they had some production issues and hence will not be able to fulfill our booking. They refunded our booking amount.

    At this point, I was hoping to change Dad’s mind to Swift but his next choice was Punto which according to me was way better than Sail, though still not good. I have no soft corner for Swift, but for a petrol hatch below 6lacs, Swift ticked all the right boxes. The interior space was the only issue which was anyways more than our current car, Alto. If we were looking at diesel, then I would rate Punto almost on par with the segment best, but in our case, dad was gonna buy the 1.2 Petrol which on paper looked so bad. Very low power-to-weight ratio was bothering me the most and I did my best to convince dad against this. I gave him many reasons like poor resale value, fit n finish not the best, service experience is still unknown with new dealers etc along with less power. But he was not gonna change his decision and I had to give up.

    So, Punto it was and we booked through Hyson Auto Sales, the newly inaugurated FIAT showroom in Cochin. Initially booked the Active variant, but changed it to Dynamic after realizing the fact that for a mere 25k, you get things like all power windows, fog lamps, stereo, driver seat height adjust, rear wash n wipe, defogger, electrically adjustable ORVMs, desmodronic key, a better MyCar system, body colored ORVMs and door handles, 60:40 split seats, two tone dash etc. SA accepted our request without hesitation and finally got the vehicle on 9th March. We were promised to get floor mats, mud flaps(the absolute edition ones are now OE) and reverse parking sensors. Mud flaps and floor mats were not ready at the time of delivery and the SA promised to get them fitted asap. We were given 5ltrs of petrol which was filled at a nearby pump.






    Initial Driving Impressions-A Sad start:


    So far, we have clocked only around 400kms and still in the early days. The lack of power was evident right from the first drive home. 3 people including me were in the car and with A/C on, there was absolutely no punch. Acceleration was very slow and I was trying hard to reach 60-70kmph. With A/C switched off, power delivery improved and was definitely better. Still, its no match for the awesome K-Series engine in Swift. The first thing that I did after reaching home was to tell dad that our next car will be entirely my choice and that I will not let anyone interfere in that decision. I would only tell them on the previous day of booking that I’m gonna book so and so car and be ready to come to the showroom tomorrow. This was made very clear. After the Alto, I just wanted a car which was fairly powerful at least and this very first drive turned out to be so bad for me. I was very very disappointed on the first day that I didn't want to drive her at all. I told this to some of my friends and they suggested doing some performance mods to improve power. I was not all interested in spending a penny on her. In fact, I had planned to swap the OEM JK tyres for Michelin XM2 or Yoko A-Drives right after delivery. And after this drive I thought why should I waste money on a car that I don’t like? It made no sense to me.

    Next day was a Sunday and we went to church with me driving again. I tried to see the tachometer and find out if I was using the rpms till 2500-3000. I did rev till 3000rpm and found she was driveable without A/C. Reached 80kmph in a not-so-bad time and I knew I would only drive without A/C if I had to make some decent progress. I hope the engine would open up a little bit more after the first service. Although not necessary as per manual, I’m planning to do an Oil+filter change. I saw in the manual that the OE spark plugs were from NGK. I searched their website, but unfortunately there was no iridium plug available for this engine. Being a 4-cylinder unit, she is pretty refined and has only a mild intrusion even at idle. Once you reach cruising speeds, she stays a bit more refined. But, rev her hard and the engine gets audible after 3500rpm. Clutch action is smooth. However, the gearbox doesn't encourage you to shift fast. I have noticed in Alto, Swift n all, where you can shift from 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] to 3[SUP]rd[/SUP] in just a fraction of a second. But here,there is no point in hurrying. From 2[SUP]nd[/SUP], shift it to neutral and then to 3[SUP]rd[/SUP]. The throw is a bit longer as well compared to Swift. May be its only a matter of learning how to do it fast. Other owners may please comment on this. Despite all these, I love her for the positives.

    Ride & Handling:
    Did some highway drives later and I was impressed with her high speed stability. At 80kmph, in our Alto, I would be feeling a bit nervous and would be very cautious on my inputs. In Punto, I was yawning. I often glanced at the speedo only to find out that I was doing 20-30kmph more than I expected. The steering feels well weighted, the suspension soaks up road undulations well and the resulting ride is pliant and composed. I once had a scary moment when I somehow missed the red signal at a traffic light. I braked hard and could hear the screeching sound from tires. Other than that, the car stopped without any drama. Some of the expansion joints in bridges used to send a shiver down my spine in Alto. Not so with Punto which dismisses such things with a comfortable thud.

    Fit & finish:
    Had suspected this from many of the reviews online and it was true. Some of the plastic bits feel very cheap. So much that, I can confidently say Alto was better if you compare. The most annoying ones are the a/c vents which feels like a Rs. 10 toy if you slide them horizontally. The markings on the fuel lid opening lever, the boot opening and bonnet opening lever looks like they were painted by a kid with a normal brush. The A/C control knobs too don’t feel good to operate. I can live with all these as long as they do their intended functions.

    The mileage in these early days is a bit low and I would like to reserve my judgement until I clock at least 5000kms. Nowadays, she averages 11kmpl which is very bad. Hope it will improve after first service. Also, most of the driving has been in and around city limits with very few highway drives.

    I love the fact that the Dynamic variant gets a host of features which were previously available only in Emotion variant. This includes electrically adjustable ORVMs, front fog lamps, stereo, 4 door power windows with one touch operation, telescopic steering, desmodronic key, driver seat height adjust, 60:40 split option at rear etc. All these and some more for a mere 25k over the Active variant. The dealer supplied reverse parking sensors do help their bit in judging distances while reversing into tight spots. I’m planning to add a camera as well so that we don’t miss any obstacles that escape the sensor’s radar.

    Tyre change - Michelin XM2 v/s Yoko A-Drives:
    Had planned to do the tyre change and got quotes from most of the prominent shops here like DBS, Global tyres, New bharath pitstop, Tyrex, Speed Tyre Shoppe etc. My mind was in favor of DBS which was close to my home as well. Digged up a contact who knew one of the partners there and got a pretty good discount from the initial quote. But still, the buyback for the four 165/80R14 JK’s quoted was less than TyreX. TyreX quoted slightly lesser for the new tires too and also included balancing and nitrogen, both of which was free. I confirmed the manufacturing dates and finalized the deal with TyreX. Opted for 185/70 R14 Michelin XM2. After the swap, the ride is better, road noise is very very less. The final amount paid was too good to be true.

    Mud flaps, floor mats and scuff plates were fixed last Saturday at the service center. Mud flaps are the absolute edition ones which are now the OE. Although they look far better than the previous design, I'm still doubting their effectiveness in stopping dirt during monsoon. Also, the floor mats are not designed to fit the floor area perfectly. Some areas are left exposed. Have updated my experience in the service center in the relevant thread.

    Here are some more pics:



    Fairly large boot





    Illuminated scuff plates


    FIAT OE mud flaps(absolute edition ones)

    The new FIAT OE floor mats

    Not a perfect fit

    A/C switched on

    A/C switched off





    Michelin XM2's




    Hope you guys liked my review. :anyone
    11 people like this.
  2. Ravi

    Ravi Staff Member Janitor

    Grande Punto 1.3
    RMZ, brilliant review, keep the thread updated.
  3. SOOZ_P

    SOOZ_P Regolare

    Grande Punto 1.3
    Congratulations and have a safe Driving. Pics are awesome.
  4. limraj

    limraj Esperto

    Linea 1.3
    Great photos..
    Please check for your registration number.. RTO says its a Duster.
  5. RMZ


    Thanks Ravi. Will try my best to keep it updated.

    Thanks SOOZ_P.

    Haha @limraj, that number probably belongs to a Duster only coz my registration number is different.:-D I just wanted to show you guys the number plate in one of the pics. So, used the humble MS Paint and did the editing. Glad that its near perfect.
    1 person likes this.
  6. santhukp

    santhukp Amatore


    One of the best honest reviews of Punto.Congrats buddy.

    1.2 punto definitely is not for power hungry people.This car is suitable for first time car buyer and new learner like me.
    I am also feeling strain in engine while AC is on but it reaches 70 to 80 with proper gear shift for me .But yes sudden acceleration is a problem.
    you cant expect more than 12-13/L in city but in high it may give you 16/L.
    Plastic quality ?.. nothing to talk about see the quality of plastic under the steering column in your picture? its horrible(poora parambile toys will have better quality :))
  7. Tony

    Tony Esperto

    Kalamboli, Navi Mumbai
    Grande Punto 1.2
    Congrats and happy puntoing,
    Dont under-estimate the 1.2, Just make sure the Tyre pressure is perfect and press the gas and watch the spin, For sure you will get a min of average if you wants a spin for the wheel.
    1 person likes this.
  8. RMZ


    santhukp, your views are similar to mine. In my opinion, the main culprit here is the weight of the car. Punto 1.2 weighs 1140kgs whereas Swift Vxi tips the scales at 970kgs. Thats a difference of approx 170kgs which is more than enough to bring down the power-to-weight ratio by a good amount. Such a heavy car needs at least a 90bhp engine. If the same engine was put in a lighter car, it would have felt peppier and the mileage too would have been more. Few years back, I had test driven the 1.4 petrol and it felt fairly powerful to me.

    Steering column looks better than before. I wanted to show you guys the difference, though its still not acceptable. How can FIAT lag behind when even TATA has come up with a Vista where the fit n finish rivals international counterparts? In my review, I was only comparing the plastic quality with Alto that was manufactured 8yrs back. Maruti has come way past those levels now.
  9. raj29

    raj29 Superiore

    Nice review RMZ, very neatly penned down with the facts.

    The pictures have come out very good too :)
    Enjoy your ride
  10. RMZ


    Thanks Tony. Tyre pressure is now at 32psi. How's your car doing? Have you felt any noticeable improvements in acceleration post first service?

    Thanks Raj, Those pics are from my Canon SX50 in full auto mode. I'm still a noob with regards to photography.

    You must be having real fun time with those 90 horses. Lucky dude. Wish I had the same engine at my disposal.

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