The prologue Fiat India officially invited TFI to attend the launch event at New Delhi. The onus to attend the launch fell on me and PaddleShifter, with Ansal11 also joining later. PaddleShifter couldn't make it due to some unavoidable circumstances so it was left to me and Ansal to attend the launch. Thanks to Ansal's T-Jet+, we made sure we went to the Lalit with style. At The Lalit We reached a bit early, where we met with Mr. Ravi Bhatia , Vice-President Commercial. I introduced ourselves as from being Team Fiat andee thanked Mr. Bhatia for giving us an opportunity to attend the launch event. He told us that he is well aware of Team Fiat and the support of the FIAT enthusiast community, exemplified by TFI is truly wonderful. He also stressed that the FIAT community has stayed with FIAT through thick and thin. Later, he told us that FIAT is aware to concerns being aired by many sections about the FIAT cars and that is the reason FIAT is coming with these changes on the 2012 models. The new Oceanic Blue , he told us, is launched by FIAT keeping in sync with changing times and offering the customer a more exciting shade to choose from. I also let Mr Bhatia know that the discontinued Blue color was sorely missed and this introduction shall delight the hearts of the FIAT enthusiasts. Mr. Bhatia asked about the cars we owned and how the service experience has been till date. During the discussion about service, he told us that he is aware that there are differences from dealer to dealer and FIAT is aware of this. Also, a strategy to counter this is underway. Later, we had an opportunity to interact with Mr. Marius D'Lima, Head- Corporate Communications, who beckoned us inside the hall to see for ourselves the changes FIAT intends to undertake with respect to the Communications. Inside the hall, as you all might have seen during the live stream, the new features being introduced were explained by Tarun Khanna, Head-Marketing. The new features have already been discussed and all info regarding them is already here. Here's a short summary of the changes: Linea 2012 The top of the line variant becomes Emotion and will only be available with the 1.3 VGT Multijet, with interiors and wheels being borrowed from the TJET+ and the seats and the door panels being clothed in leather. All three versions come with rain sensing wipers and auto headlights. The active gets front fog lamps, ICE, outside temperature display, electrically adjustable ORVM's etc. The Dynamic gets ABS, EBD, Blue n ME, front airbags, steering controls , 15'' alloys etc. The ground clearance has seen a massive improvement and is now best-in-class. It is 185mm for both the diesel and the petrol versions ( 160 for Vento, 165 for ANHC, for Verna (well, the Hyundai site doesn't even list it's GC), and180mm for the SX4 diesel ). During the presentation Rajeev Kapoor stressed on the fact that the ground clearance has been accomplished by redesigning the entire suspension and the increase has not been by any shortcut method. He acknowledged the fact that FIAT cars have always been known for their ride and handling and he said that no compromise has been made in this regard to either the Punto or the Linea.As for how the increase in ground clearance has 'affected' the looks of the Linea, i think the people who put a question mark over the looks will be the one to answer this. With increased GC , i can feel much more safer while travelling over undulating surfaces, potholes, speed bumps etc. Plus, there is more comfort room for the suspension even with the car fully loaded. AND, anyone thinking of putting 18'' wheels on the Linea, FIAT India has just made your task easier! 18'' will look perfectly at home on the 2012 Linea. Even on the Punto. Mr . Kapoor mentioned that keeping in mind the requests being heard by FIAT in respect of the air conditioning not being very effective in peak summer heat (???), the FIAT R&D redesigned the entire AC system and tested it in 48-50 degrees heat in Rajasthan. A summary of the changes to the Punto are : Punto 2012 The Active becomes more loaded than ever. It now has ICE with speed sensitive volume control, central locking (Punto is the only car to have ICE as standard in the base variant) etc. The Dynamic gets ABS with EBD. The interiors on all of the versions have been spruced up with a brighter shade of grey on the dashboard (top two versions get dual tone dashboards) and a seat fabric which matches the brigher grey. The fabric does not exactly feel luxurious, but it surely feels stout and durable. The ground clearance has become a mighty 195mm for the 1.2 and 185mm for the 1.4 and the 1.3. In the Punto 1.3 Emotion that we saw at the launch, the front wheel well space did seem a tad larger than it should be. BUT, that is the price we all have to pay for the state of the roads that we encounter everyday in India. So, kudos to FIAT for making these cars more practical, keeping in mind the road conditions encountered in India. One high speed travel on undulating surfaces in the 2012 Punto should let us all know why FIAT went in for the GC increase and how it helps. Guys going in for aftermarket 17-18'' wheels will surely love the extra space in the wheel well. Prices I have already listed the prices elsewhere, but all i can say is that with the additional features and various improvements, these two cars define Value for money now. The base variants of both the cars are at a killer price range and carry a load of features. The mid variants seem to suggest that buying the topmost variant may not be necessary at all. And the Emotion Linea has been so priced that one can get many more additional features for not much $$$ over the dynamic. My take I and Ansal agreed on the point that the 2012 Linea and Punto are the cars which should have been launched way back. The features and the improvements should have been there when these cars were launched in the Indian market. But, that's not under our control , and the good thing is that FIAT is sensitive to user opinions and is showing a positive outlook for the Indian market. The reduction of the variants to three basic categories simplifies the criteria and brings it in norms with FIAT sales strategy the world over. The new color is simply brilliant and looks a treat to the eye. Pure eye candy. And with 16'' wheels thrown in the package, the deal gets even more sweeter. During the Q&A session with the top brass i posed two questions before them. Whether FIAT intended to bring the 1.6 Multijet or the Multiair to the Indian market. Rajeev Kapoor replied by stating that the addition of the 1.6 Multijet to the Linea has the potential to position the car in a different segment and at a different pricepoint, and as of now there are no plans for any such introduction. I don't agree with Mr. Kapoor's statement at all, but the news that 1.6 is not coming was a let down. Another question i posed to the top brass was regarding the changes in store for the 90hp and the T-Jet. This question was answered by Enrico Antanasio, who maintained that as of now, the concept to introduce changes to them are in the pipeline and will be announced later on. Some rumors suggest something around March 2012. But nothing concrete about it from the FIAT Management. That's about all i reckon. Cheers. Disclaimer - We went to the launch on our own expense. Team Fiat is proud of its independent and un-biased opinion and thought.