Hi everyone... This is the buying and initial ownership experience of my GRANDE PUNTO MJD. Love at second sight..!!! I remember first sighting a gray Punto two years back in my office car parking. I was with a friend who told me that it was the Fiat Punto but I must admit that I was not immediately smitten by its looks. The swift was my favourite looking hatchback back then. A few months later while I was waiting at Tidal park signal on my bike, a super gorgeous looking white car stopped behind me. I turned around to see its front profile was stunning. At first I thought it was some imported supermini but then I saw the Fiat logo and..........yes you guessed right...it was the bossa nova white GRANDE PUNTO..!! It was Love at second sight...!!! Deciding on the Punto.. Today I own this beauty, but the decision was a tough one. I needed a diesel hatchback that would perform well and go easy on the pocket, so there started my hunt. Although I was floored by the looks of the Punto I never thought of owning this beauty, not because of Fiats bad reputation or the A.S.S but because I was pretty much ignorant about cars and thought that the Punto was too sophisticated for me. I am a gamer and a hardcore one and was desperately in need of some enlightenment on cars. I started reading forums and interacting with a friend who is an auto enthusiast who also owns a Fiat Palio Stile MJD. His favourite hatchback is the Punto and this helped in getting to know more about this car that many were and still are ignorant of. After months of reading and discussing and test driving I narrowed in on the swift 2011 and the Punto MJD. The i20 and polo were out of my budget, the Ritz looked weird, the Vista and Figo looked very boring although it is good value for money. My heart said Punto but the mind said swift 2011. It was time I took a test drive of the Punto and seal the deal. The test drive pretty much sealed the deal. I remember going to VST motors at Anna salai, Chennai with my uncle who for some reason had his mind fixed on the figo. When we walked in and my uncle saw a BNW Punto he was completely floored. ‘This is the car you were talking about?…wow..go for it’ is what he said. Took the test drive and I immediately got the feeling of the superb steering and suspension. The ride quality was great and was very impressed with the dashboard and controls, good steering wheel, very comfy seats and good AC. That’s it, the decision was made. A.S.S was a risk I was willing to take and besides a friend of mine who owns a Palio stile MJD said that the A.S.S wasn’t bad at all. Deciding on the Variant and Colour. The emotion pack is the best choice next to the 90hp variant with features like Auto climate control, Blue and me, 15 inch fat tires, driver seat height adjustment etc., but the problem was that it was beyond my budget. The active was what I could afford. I had planned on buying the Active variant and upgrading it later but thanks to continuous convincing by my friend who told me that the factory fit cannot be matched I was convinced that the Emotion pack was the way to go. Thanks to a loan from my parents to stretch my budget the Emotion pack was in reach. Deciding on the colour was the most difficult decision I had to make. I narrowed in on the Red and bosa nova White. Taking votes from friends was of no good as it became more confusing. On the day that I was just about to leave from home to book the car my Mum said ‘It would be nice if you buy a white car, it would look very sophisticated and neat’. Those golden words of advice cleared my mind. White it would be. Booking and delivery The on road price quoted by VST and Concorde was 7.66 lakh for the GP MJD emotion pack. I had my mind fixed on getting a 50k discount and started bargaining. Both VST and Concorde offered a discount finalizing on a price of 7.22 lakh plus offered a diesel coupon worth Rs. 6500 and freebees like mud flaps, carpets, sunflim, car cover and offered to bear a certain amount of the cost for seat covers effectively offering a 50k discount that I wanted. I booked the car at VST Anna nagar and was promised to get it in 10 days. Those ten days were the longest ten days ever and I had to sink my mind in gaming to survive the wait. Before delivery I carried out a PDI. It was first time that I saw my beauty and I simply could not believe that this car would be mine. Carried out the PDI and just didn’t have the heart to leave. After taking a couple of snaps I left like a love struck fool. Then came the day of delivery. Everything went off smoothly and the car was delivered as promised on time. It was washed and polished and looked smashing. Took the car to church, got it blessed and went for lunch with family. It was a very wonderful experience. Me and my machine. I wasn’t sure if engine run in was required but I decided to be on the safer side and drove at RPMs not exceeding 2500 rpm for the first 2000kms. With that done and out of the way it was time to unleash the beast. For months I and my good friend had planned and dreamed of a lot of long distance trips just cruising on the highway, exploring places, soaking up the scenery, taking a break from the corporate world and well...just chilling out and driving, and now that I got the car it was time to take it for a spin and live our dreams. Almost every Friday we packed our bags and hit the highways which includes driving to Ambur, Bangalore, Mysore, Coorg, Pondicherry, Velankanni and a drive up Yelagiri hill with a lot of hair pin bends which was the most fun and challenging. The car’s incredible handling and road grip was so confidence inspiring that I was addicted to driving this car. Being a tall person I normally push the seat back and set the seat height to its lowest position for highway drives. It felt awesome to cruise on the highways in this low seated position. The steering feedback at high speeds is incredible and is something to experience. The car felt very stable and turning at high speeds was very confidence inspiring and fun. The car performed very well with good mileage of 18kmpl on the highway and 13 to 14 kmpl in the city with AC on all the time. I think the mileage may improve as I clock more distance. The AC is an absolute chiller and the auto climate control is a boon. I always set the temperature to 24 degrees and it is most comfortable. The suspension setup is excellent and it simply soaks up the bad roads so well. The blue and me and voice recognition are features that I enjoy. The time that I and my pal spent with this incredible machine cruising, stopping to take a break and a few snaps and to stand back and admire this beauty of a car is something that I will cherish for a long time. It has been only 2 months now since I bought the car with 6.5k clocked and it has become clear that I made a very good decision. I am enjoying every moment of my ride. This definitely is ‘A BOLD NEW DRIVE’. What’s a car without a few problems? When I carried out the PDI before delivery the car indicated that the number plate light was not glowing. The sales person (Mr. Kadar Basha) said that it would be fixed and it was fixed. But this problem seemed to crop up every now and then inconsistently. I didn’t want to visit TASS for this minor issue and then since of late it has disappeared completely. I wonder if the car can self heal?? Probably it was a loose contact. Another problem that I faced was that the remote locking stopped working. I prayed that the car would self heal but that didn’t happen which meant that it was time to face my fears….VISIT TASS. I must say with all honestly that I was pleasantly surprised with my visit to TASS. I didn’t book for service and walked in and I had to wait for a few minutes until the service engineer showed up. He immediately fixed the problem which was a loose contact in the remote key. The service engineer said that I might have dropped it somewhere. I thanked him and walked out surprised and pleased. Pros The Punto is a very good looking car and very proportionate from every angle. Arguably the best looking hatchback in the Indian market in my opinion, but then looks are subjective. Excellent steering feedback. Excellent ride quality and handling. Comfortable seats. Auto climate control is great. 15 inch fat tires and artistic alloys with great road grip. I feel this is one of the best looking stock alloys. Blue and Me. High speed stability. No rattles at high speeds. Strong build. Confidence inspiring. Good braking. Making calls with voice recognition (can get messy at times). Dislikes Low ground clearance. I get a heart attack every time the car scrapes the ground even if it is the engine guard that is scraping. Low pickup in 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] gear. A little more power in the 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] gear would have been better. The engine noise seems to creep into the cabin but is not very audible with the music on. I guess this is the case with all diesel cars. Correct me if I am wrong. While playing songs from the USB the songs can be forwarded from the steering controls only and not the main console. Hope FIAT comes out with a software upgrade. Stock speakers keep jarring at high volumes. Long clutch travel. My thoughts and verdict. During the time that I spent deciding on what car to buy I had numerous discussions with friends and most of them preferred a car which offered good resale value and A.S.S. and was good value for money. I was surprised that only few of them preferred a well built car that had good ride quality and handling, was safe and confidence inspiring. The FIAT Grande Punto fortunately or unfortunately falls in the second category. While it may not have the after sales value of a swift and not provide A.S.S like Maruti and Hyundai it certainly is a car that is very good value for your money. At 7.2 lakhs the Grande Punto emotion pack with the features that it offers is a steal if not value for money. If this was a Maruti Grande Punto it would be the best selling hatch. It’s a car that I would recommend any day. Hope my review is useful to all those who read this and to sum it up I would say that the Grande Punto is a phenomenal car that you would just wanna drive, drive and drive. Its a Beauty and a Beast.