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Journey with my Fiat Grande Punto Sports 90HP Ex-Red.

Discussion in 'Punto 1.3 MJD 90 HP' started by rider16, Sep 28, 2015.

  1. rider16

    rider16 Amatore

    Grande Punto 1.3 90 HP
    Hi All,

    This is the ownership review of my Fiat Grande Punto.

    Brief Prelude:

    Our first car was Accent Viva Crdi, I have my happiest memories of driving this car, for 4.5 years before we sold it. Parting with this car was really tough, I had emotional attachment towards this baby.


    Our second car,

    Swift Ldi (Dec 2007), we had to buy this one while the viva was still at home, as a second car, bought this one with a way stretched budget at that time, went with this one as it was a diesel car and decent handling(huge dip from viva's handling). But it was only after we bought it that, I found out what we bought was not as great as it was hyped out at the time.


    Our third car,

    Ford Fiesta EXi LTD Edition, this one was bought after we sold off the Accent viva. The reason for buying this car was very clear, we wanted a well built, good handling, and a frugal sedan. This was a perfect car for the purpose and has served us well so far so good and is still with us. At that time, I researched a lot on this car's pros and cons and made a decision, luckily for us this decision made with mind, did match our pockets and managed to win our hearts.


    What car and Why:

    It had been four and a half years with the Swift Ldi, and I had had enough with poorly built car, yes it was!. There are threads on how I installed the ICE in this car, the lengths I went to make this car's interiors more attractive and pain I took to make this car rattle free, but it did not come around for me.

    In-spite of all my efforts, there was always something or the other that went wrong with the car. Given its poor build quality.

    Now, after having owned these cars, and after having driven many from the family for a few years now, my requirements were very clear.

    My Requirements:

    1. My next car should be a Hatchback/Notchback.

    2. It should be well designed, well built(quality of parts wise) and well made(no more damned rattles/jugaads).

    3. It should have better/equivalent handling and steering precision compared to my Accent viva(crdi). (Man, I still miss that car.)

    4. A decent Authorised service station was okay by me. As per me, except the Maruti and Hyundai, no other service station is awesome enough to write home about, that is by and large.(There are always exceptions)

    5. It should not be super expensive to maintain.

    6. It should be a diesel for only one reason alone, the turbo kick!

    7. Most important of all, the car should have, A Balance between the power it produces, the power its body can handle, and stability while cornering and braking.

    The Contenders:

    #1 Volkswagen Polo Tdi.

    #2 Skoda Fabia Tdi.

    #3 Ford Figo Tdci.

    #4 Tata Indica Vista Quadrajet.

    #5 Fiat Grande Punto Multijet.

    Now reasons for not choosing the above contenders,

    1. Polo tdi.


    Solid body and build.

    Good Handler.

    Good mileage.

    Decent maintenance cost.

    Decent engine power with well matched gear box.


    It still was new and had to prove itself.

    Three cylinder engine. I did not want to take change again with this one, as it was very reason to sell the Viva, since its three cylinder engine gave up.

    The A.S.S. was still being set-up.

    Parts cost was super expensive at the time in comparison.

    Cramped interior space in comparison.

    No turbo lag nor kick.

    2. Fabia Tdi.

    Same are the reasons for the Skoda Fabia, this was the rebadged cousin of the polo so dint bother. One addition among cons is the horror Skoda A.S.S. stories of-course.

    3. Figo Tdci.

    Ford figo, was one strong contender after the trouble free and happy ownership experience of the Fiesta Tdci.


    The car is well built and made.

    Good Handler.

    Good mileage.

    Lower maintenance cost.

    Good A.S.S.


    Okay-ish engine power with not so well matched gear box(Compared to Fiesta diesel).

    Interior feel and finish was not good compared to competition.

    Missing rear power windows on even top variant.

    Non-modification friendly(after market alloys wise and ICE wise).

    4. Indica Vista Quadrajet.

    Tata Indica Vista Quadrajet, this was another contender for me as the vista was not a regular run of the mill indica, it was a well designed and tough built car, though not well made, it offered a good value for money.


    The car is tough built.

    Has national Engine and Fiat gearbox.

    Has good mileage.

    Lower maintenance costs.

    Excellent A.S.S. in Hyderabad.

    Good value for money.


    It was Tata, so image was a issue for the family members.

    A.S.S. was a gamble(except in Hyderabad).

    Soft suspension.

    Niggling issues.

    I did have the plans to even wait for the polo 1.6tdi ~ GT tdi, man I am glad I dint wait. Reason being that, this car was launched one and a half years after my purchase, although had all those aspects as per my expectations, still dint match the stability and solid road sticking quality of my Punto (of-course as per me). One more worthy mentioning negative aspect regarding the polo 1.6 Tdi is its really hard clutch.

    Now the reason for not choosing any of the Japanese or Korean or the re-badged Japanese was very simple, they either lacked the build or handling or both.

    Why Fiat Punto and why Punto 90hp?

    It was FIAT Punto 90hp for me, after I took a long test drive on the ORR, which the malik cars guys were kind enough to oblige, I was set that, I would get this one.

    The other reasons for picking this one was the AWESOME service support from Malik Cars dealer Hyderabad. Sadly, it dint last long, Fiat and Tata parted ways around 6months, after I bought my car.


    The ride, cornering ability and that balance I was after was in this car.

    highest power in a hatchback at the time ~ 90HP.

    Solid build.

    National Engine on this car meant, the service/parts availability benefits it comes with.


    EPS unit not as perfect as I expected.(Accent Viva's Hydralic steering unit was dead on target incomparison.)

    Interiors could have been either all black or beige like Linea's.

    A.S.S was very questionable out of Hyderabad at the time, as it was Tata A.S.S that serviced Fiat too.

    Here, it was, my Grande Punto 90HP. A big thanks to Malik guys for that long test drive and arranging me with 16" Linea T-Jet alloys on the car even before delivery.

    This is how the car was delivered.


    I wrote the car's Pros in brief above, now some of them in little more detail. Ever since Accent viva, I wanted a car with as precise steering as this one, and a better handling car. I admit accent-viva dint handle well. But, when I said precise, I meant, I always knew where my cars wheels would land next when under 3 digit speeds, people who have driven this car would know this. This was my primary expectation from Punto.

    Well, I test drove all the other cars I considered and rejected them for reasons above. But, when I test drove punto, this car did not have that kind of steering, but matched 90%. What it lacked in steering precision, it made up for the same in terms of Handling. I put this car through bad-broken patches and corners. It handled all those road undulations and still stayed in a Straight Line. There was slight body roll too, but this is due to the raised suspension on cars sold 2012 on wards. This din't matter much because no other car in my budget handled like this car. By the time I finished the test drive, a had a smile plastered to my face. I went in and paid the booking amount the very same day.

    These drive dynamics and all other aspects considered, I knew this was the car. I think God smiled up on me and said, I grant your wish of seeking such a car that I could afford. This pro of the car made me so happy that, I forgot all the vices it came with.


    #1. Again, that balance between power it has, the stability and braking all in excellently caliberated balance.

    #2. Good interior space.

    #3. Frugal enough to maintain, both KMPL and annual maintenance wise.

    #4. This car is built like a tank.

    #5. Light clutch pedal.


    #1. cramped pedals.

    #2. Not bad, but ergonomics of this car need getting used to.

    #3. A.S.S. of Fiat. (they always remind me FIAT=Fix it again Thambi). Its not the car, its them. But, they are not as bad as they used to be, they are getting better each year for sure.

    #4. Car was on offer only in 3 colors at the time. I really really wanted the Navy blue punto, but they dint give me a choice. BNW was rejected at home, and Black I dint want for technical reasons.

    There are is one thing, I want to write about the gearing of this car, while most people consider this a con, I find it okay. Most of the people here are used to Japanese/Korean tuned cars, where the 1st and 2nd gears are tall enough, but in this car they are short causing a problem to drive in traffic here. But, the trick I came about to counter this was pretty simple. stay above 1500Rpm and below 2000Rpm in 1st & 2nd gears while in traffic and one would not need as many gear changes. Once above 30Kmph shift to 3rd and cruise, but stay in the power band. This did not affect my car's mileage. Its just the way this car is tuned/made.

    The first year's ownership experience was a breeze. The car clocked close to 12000kms first year. I kept the car dead stock, and used it like shut it, fill it, forget it.

    Deep down I wanted to upgrade audio and a plethora of things on this baby and I patiently saved up for the same.




    The above pics were shot while on holiday. This trip was right after the first year's service.

    Come year 2.

    These are the list of upgrades I got for the car based on my expectation and the feedback after driving the car for a whole year.

    Now, it was past one year since I brought this baby home, and my vitamin M was also accumulated enough to start the upgrades.

    First thing I wanted off the car were Fiat's OE 16" alloy wheels. The reasons being,

    1. These were unbelievably heavy.

    2. They were softer than other manufacturer's alloy wheels.

    3. They did cost me a bomb.

    They aided more in slowing down a already heavy car and braking. But, the drive dynamics considerably improved with lesser side wall height tyres on these 16" wheels, that's all there is to them.

    I scouted hard and found these alloy wheels,


    These weighed 5+Kg per wheel as against 9.5+Kg per wheel of the 16" Fiat's. That is almost half. These are plati's limited edition racing wheels and I got hub rings for these, boy o boy did I instantly feel the car pick-up after the change. PCD was a match but, ET~offset of stock wheel was 44 and these had an offset of 40. I dint face any problems with these.

    Next, the suspension was up for an upgrade. Given my driving the car is on bad roads, highways being constructed kind of roads, the stock suspension did become a little weak compared to cars with similar mileage on the ODO. This meant a little more body roll.

    So the solution I chose was,






    These are Bilstein B6. The car transformed in to a steady almost no body roll machine. Admittedly the ride became a little stiffer, but I loved the way car moved after this.
    Ganges, asimpleson and ghodlur like this.
  2. rider16

    rider16 Amatore

    Grande Punto 1.3 90 HP
    Then, it was turn of the seats, given I do long drives in this car, 12hours straight at times, I wanted harder cushioning, better back support and under thigh support. Not that the stock was soft, but this was my preference.



    These seats are custom made to suit my height and boy did I pat myself on my back for this. Post this the seats in the car were awesomely comfortable even on city drives. I could instantly feel the difference when I occasionally drove dad's car.

    I will post few pictures of the seats from inside the cabin later on dont have them with me right now.

    Now, fixing the a small but important part of driving experience, which Fiat left unfinished.




    Yes, the dead pedal. Fiat did give a dead pedal on this car. But, it's just a hollow plastic part. Every time I put my foot down the alignment of this big piece of plastic would go off and it used to stick out at my left chin. Filled up this part with a big chunk piece of contoured MDF wood wrapped in plastic and voila problem solved.

    Now, fixing a small design flaw by fiat. It is a small but very irritating problem for some. Fellow Punto/Linea owners, every wondered why your seat height adjustment won't stay in the position you set it in? It's not the faulty seat at all.




    It is that lever in the first pic. Every time you get in and/or out of the car this lever gets pressed and naturally the seat height would go down. I took me a few months to understand this design flaw. And I finally solved it by making a custom lever for the same. It doesn't cost much, but works like a charm. Fiat should do this. Other manufacturers have a better design on the seats in their cars as I checked out.
    --- Double Post Merged, Sep 28, 2015 ---
    Another upgrade is, a combo of things, I have seen my friend's I20 with that automatic dimming IRVM. It even houses a screen for a rear camera. I wanted my accessories shop guy to fit that Hyundai part in my car. He gave me an almost exact product. It works like a charm too.



    Now a thing I really have to mention is how my guy had this installed in my car. A normal or most of the car accessories dealers would slice your reverse light for power supply for this to work. I stood dead on NO TOUCHING of Stock wires period. He came up with this.



    Take a close look at both these pics, there is a physical tiny switch installed there for the reverse camera to switch on when reverse gear is engaged.

    Frankly, I never expected this level of sophistication from car accessories dealers in Hyderabad. A big big thanks to Mr. Akshay of PITSTOP car accessories, for putting up with my no stock wire touching policy and delivering one of the best installation service in India. Not just this, even my car audio and other things were done here in Hyderabad. This is surprising since, there are hardly such installs in my city, it is usually Bangalore, Cochin, Mumbai or up north cars/guys who showcase such sophistication and workman-ship. I am proud to say we have all of that in Hyderabad too now.

    The entire Install was done at a go, along with audio and other things a year and a half ago. Till date, everything has stayed the same way. No niggling issues, rather no issues faced till date.

    My car has successfully completed 30,000Kms so far. And everything feels as good as new, just like the day of car's delivery.
    --- Double Post Merged, Sep 28, 2015 ---
    There is a lot more coming up on this review, will keep you guys posted. Let me know what you guys think so far. Cheers to all.
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2015
  3. Maddy79

    Maddy79 Amatore

    Grande Punto 1.3
    Looks like you take a good care for your ride.
    Couldn't make out from the pics, if the changed alloys were 15" or 16" & whats the Tyre size.
    Bilstein b6 cost and did you get them done in Hyderabad.
    How long have you been on this setup.
    Changing the suspension set up to an aftermarket one's is definitely a bold move as we never know how it would change the handling dynamics of our ride and most replace it with OE as they are thoroughly tested & guaranteed on fiat cars.
  4. Deepak

    Deepak Superiore

    Punto Evo 1.3 90 HP
    Superb review buddy. You really have done some good upgrade on 90HP.
    1. Can you tell us more on Bilstein B6? You have mentioned its on a stiffer side, is there any compromise on ride/handling against the stock set up? any pro and con of Bilstein B6?

    2. wooden dead pedal looks close to C-pedal in the pic. Do you get stuck in case of panic braking?

    3. i thought 16' on Punto 90HP will pull well. surprised to see these 16' alloys are on heavier side. in fact many Punto owners switch to these 16' alloy of Linea. Even the current Evo 90HP comes with 16' alloy. which tyres are you using? dimensions?

    Punto comes with HPS not EPS. :)

    4. nice solution to the seat adjustment issue. fix noted :)
  5. ghodlur

    ghodlur Esperto


    Heartiest congratulations on the 90HP scorcher. You did the right thing of chucking away the competition and opting for the Evo. I am sure you will never regret the decision.

    Hats off to you for most of the mods. A couple of things surprised me was the change of alloys, the seat adjuster mods and the reverse camera mods. How did you realize that the 16" alloys were soft, they were OE isnt it? These alloys are available in the T-jet model, does it mean that the T-Jet owners need to keep an eye on the alloy materials. Has this issue been communicated to Fiat India?

    I am somehow not convinced with the reverse camera mods since a proximity switch is more prone to misalignment? how was the adjustment done and can you post the pics of the IVRM displaying the rear view when rear camera is operational?

    Also instead of removing the dead pedal panel, would it not have been better to pad up the pedal with common house door mats to bring it at the clutch pedal level?

    Happy mile crunching and drive safely. Keep the mods coming, do I sense that HU is next on the list of mods?
    prabhjot and asimpleson like this.
  6. rider16

    rider16 Amatore

    Grande Punto 1.3 90 HP
    These sturts make the car stand slightly only slightly taller than the OE 2009 ones but shorter than the post 2012 models. They are awesome maddy. Its been two years maddy(had stock suspension for 1 year.), and I am loving it every drive.

    It has made the car take those broken patches with a zilch now compared to previous aplomp. And the ride dynamics are way way better compared to stock 2012 OE suspension.

    Got these from PITSTOP hyderabad, the official pete's dealer for AP/TS, along with rest of the mods and installs.

    1. The ride has become sweeter and better in every sense for me, its stiffer and handles like a dream now compared to the stock. only downside being ride is slightly stiff.

    2. That wooden pedal is fixed beneath that plastic piece bro. Its to give the plastic dead pedal support from beneath thats what its for.

    3. Mine is 2012 model, it came with those brazilian alloy wheels, I struck a deal and exchanged those for t-jet alloys right from the stock yard. I went in for the only available option at that time, 205/55-R16.

    4.It took me few months to figure out the design flaw by FIAT.

    Dude, it is EPS claims the Ser. Tech. I just called and found out, and It does feel like EPS. The palio's Hydralic unit was way way awesome compared to this bro. Hence wrote that.

    I had those T-jet OE alloys for a year, I have two of them bent and I got the bents removed. I stored them up in my garage later on. I have the after market for 2 years after this and these are still going strong, that is even after the stiffer suspension Bilstiens brother. Its personal experience and I have confirmed the same from a few T-Jet owners too. Yes they are mostly useless for our road conditions. Only + they offer is providing lot of ROLLING RESISTANCE which only helps you brake better from speeds.

    The reverse camera and sensors work perfectly. will post pictures later.

    No, I dint get rid of the plastic dead pedal piece bro, this wooden piece is underneath it to support it.
  7. asimpleson

    asimpleson Esperto

    Linea 1.3
    @rider16, I am not a swift diesel fan as such esp. the highway crash-worthiness of the car about which I have doubts always. But apart from that you revelation comes as a shock to me about the swift, which I believe are sold at premium considering these are light to maintain and pretty predictable about issues that occur as most Marutis are famous for.

    What do you think about Punto tuning and responsiveness compared to the Swift D. Would like to know more about ICE updates too. Pardon me if I have missed those details in this thread.

    Overall a nice set of solutions. :)
  8. rider16

    rider16 Amatore

    Grande Punto 1.3 90 HP

    Build quality wise and making wise, PUNTO scores Hands down, if you do get a chance compare any 5yr old punto to any 5yr old swift (diesels or petrols) they will totally tell you the story about the philosophy behind manufacturing the cars.

    But actually speaking build wise, punto is built like a Tank mind you BUT not like a castle!!!

    let me explain, while call the Japs tin pots, I call punto a tank but not a castle because, It will still last you as long as a Jap car does but will age like Cheese and not like a rotten apples(read japs).

    What I mean by built like castle is, remember them porsches, of the 60's 70's or Benz AMGs of the 70's 80's those cars still are in the same factory condition more or less. Now thats a castle like build.

    Tuning wise, Maruti, Japanese cars, korean cars and like are tuned for KITNA DETI HAI philosophy. While all your Euro and American cars are tuned for enthusiasts tastes. Sadly Ford has gone the Jap route to make the mass sales happen this is IN THE FACE evident in their latest offering FIGO ASPIRE!(Atleast in the fiesta old one, the drive dynamics were awesome, while the engine was tuned with JAP philosophy, it just wouldnt rev as high.)

    Let me explain this in a little detail.

    Enthusiasts will want to belt the car, take it to higher RPMs and enjoy the power and its dynamics, while the kitna deti hai junta would want the car to get to the power band way quicker and stay in the lowest rpm-power range for the best mileage.

    It took me an year to graduate and fully understand this car's tuning and power delivery, as like all other Indians I am used to Japanese tuned cars earlier.

    The trick to drive and enjoy this car's tuning is always stay in the lower gear doesnt matter 1st or 2nd till you are below 2000RPM, only when you can up shift and stay above 1800rpm you shift, or just stay in the lower gear. This has given me consistant 13+kmpl in the city and good 19-20kmpl in the highways, lugging or staying in lower rpms is NOT THE WAY to drive this baby. You lug this car and you end up losing FE and straining the engine in the process.

    The swift and other cars being lower weight TIN-POTs and Jap tuned, get their power a little earlier and can comfortably stay there given much lower stress on the engine and its tuning.

    Also, when you compare swift's tuning to punto's(both diesels), swifts lose power post 4400rpm, they dont REV higher. Where as punto you can take it all the way to 5150RPM, YES I personally checked this on the FASS's monitor on a service test drive trip on my car.

    The scariest thing about swift was its brakes man. There is evident cost cutting on those. They used esteem's brake boosters on the non ABS cars, and apparently they still do. Panic braking situations in swift is a Rollercoaster ride, meaning its out of your hands. Not the same in case of punto. But those punto that come with 165/80-R14 do a need a tyre upgrade for the brakes to apply on call, but still not as scary as swift's NON-ABS cars.

    P.S. remember skoda's Octavia? the original diesel sedan that gave us unbelievable mileage for a car its size? yeah it was 24kmpl on highways for people who drove it around 80-90kmph. This was Euro tuned too, but it was a real fun to drive car because, it had its power, dynamics and braking in a set balance.

    so the jest is, it all boils down to what kind of tuning you prefer/like.

    I am all set and happy with Euro tuning, I am never going back to Jap's economy mode style of tuning ever again.
    prabhjot, Amit Rox and asimpleson like this.
  9. rider16

    rider16 Amatore

    Grande Punto 1.3 90 HP
    My weekend DIY project for the new looks!


    I cut out the grill from the frame and added a aluminium frame and painted it up!

    Moving the logo to the bumper does add awesome OE/stock look to the car.

    View attachment 83189
    pabhishek, Ganges and Murphy_Fiat like this.
  10. Ganges

    Ganges Esperto

    Driver Seat _/
    Grande Punto 1.3
    Nice, looks neat and clean.So the border still remains the Fiber/Plastic Frame and in the middle aluminium mesh ? or totally aluminium grill.

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