The newest “on the plate” from FIAT, is an upgrade on our beloved little hatchback – the FIAT Punto, called the Punto Evo, and ‘Evolution’ it is indeed.
With a freshly styled face exclusively for the Indian market – given the numerous facelifts being offered on almost all the popular hatches being sold in the country – the new Punto looks much more European than its predecessor.
The Punto has always been a good looking car, even some of the oldest, versions had had the same soft and clean surface and volume and somehow the entire form, right from the shell structure, to the stance and volume have made the Punto look complete and attractive as a hatchback.
The Evo is but a brilliant “evolution” of the Punto, specially on grounds of appearance as FIAT have attempted to play around with the surface and details of the car, and have succeeded quite well. The fresh new headlamps are swept backwards and are simply gorgeous, changing the look from cute to sexy. There is a faint surface play on the hood which somehow visually makes it appear more powerful and sporty than the previous version. The grille is completely new and has a bit of bling running around it in the form of an elegant strip of chrome.
Keeps All ‘Punto’ Profile Alive
It is important to mention that the nose of the new Punto comes straight from the FIAT Avventura concept, that was showcased at the Auto Expo earlier this year. FIAT have clearly retained the key defining features of the Punto’s design like the shell structure and visual volume to keep the whole “Punto” profile well and alive.
The charm of the front fascia is carried all the way back to the rear that displays well crafted tail lamps with clear lenses and L.E.Ds inside. The bumper has chrome inserts and mimicked dual exhaust ports.
As we step inside we are greeted not by the old interior of the Punto (obviously it’s a new car and there have to be new visuals but this is much more), but a completely new cabin which looks like it’s been borrowed from the new version of the FIAT Linea. Needless to say that they add a whole new upmarket feel to the Evo in contrast to that of the old Punto, which honestly had interiors that didn’t do much at all to complement the beauty of the exterior.
The soft plastic section on the front of the dashboard has quite a tasteful texture. The old Punto’s angular surfaces and shapes have been replaced by curvalicious plays. All black interiors are an option only on the top end “sport” models both in diesel and petrol. The rest of models have a two tone black and beige theme that is quite good even when compared with the all black which is pretty awesome.
It’s Awkward, the Steering Comes Too Close to the Chest
The cabin still has a few old snags though, like the steering still coming too close to the chest, which makes it pretty awkward to hold it, but that being said, one can simply adjust the seating and the steering height according to their comfort. In addition to that, a few plastic bits are still the same old hard variety and the general fit and finish still falls slightly short of the segment benchmark.
The sport versions of the Punto have better seating but only in the front, as the rear seating is still lacking, to say the very least, in space. To make the rear passengers feel better in the new version, rear AC vents and a bottle holder are now provided. A few other toys like climate control, Microsoft “blue and me,” Bluetooth connectivity and steering-mounted audio controls are also provided.
Pop the hood and you’ll see that there are two versions of both petrol and diesel powerhouses to choose from. The options include a 67bhp 1.2 litre petrol, an 89bhp 1.4 litre petrol and a 1.3 litre diesel with the options of 75 and 90bhp to tune. The gear ratios in the first set of gears have been played around with so to reduce the constant up-shift and down-shift. Even the sport version isn’t very “sporty” as the power lag below the 2500 mark on the tacho is more than similarly powered models from other makes. The drive quality is pretty much the same as the older Punto so anyone who has driven the car and is aware of how it feels at high speeds and around corners and turns, should be quite happy. Anyone looking for an extra punch, considering that this is an upgrade, would feel less so. That being said, the ride and handling, however, remain the Punto’s stronger characteristics as the Evo carries forward the weighted hydraulic steering, allowing for great gripping.
Tackles Bumps and Cracks on the Road
The 195/55 tyres and well-built and rigged suspension allow the Punto to tackle some of the worst roads with ease and without threat of damage to the car. This is good news since putting our cars to the ultimate endurance test is somewhat of a routine for us Indians thanks to our roads and traffic conditions.
It is evident that ever since the partnership between FIAT and TATA motors was concluded, FIAT have been working hard to present a newer and a much needed brand image in the country, and the new FIAT Punto Evo retains all the qualities of the Punto that have, through all these years, made it one of the most desirable hatchbacks on Indian roads, along with having improved on almost all of the former’s drawbacks.
To sum it up, the new Punto Evo, looks beautiful on the exterior, funky on the interior, slightly short on the power end, but handles extremely well and tackles bumps and cracks on the road like cake. If you’re looking to get a car, and think that the Punto was priced well, the Evo will be something similar for your pocket.