Is it a Punto? An Evo? Or an Avventura? In fact, it is all of this…and more. This is the new Urban Cross. And, put simply, it is another iteration of the same body shell the new Punto Evo sports. It is the Avventura but misses out on the tail-gate mounted spare wheel to make it more urban. And there are a few more changes as well.
On the outside, besides the tail-gate, there are no significant changes. The Urban Cross has the Punto Evo’s new found aggression. The oval grille is new while the swept back blacked out headlamps complete the fascia.The muscular creases on the bonnet with the tweaked bash-plates add muscle to the facade.
The Avventura’s peripheral cladding, bash plates in the front and the back and the thick side moulding does make it look macho. The spare wheel on the tailgate goes inside the boot and we love it. It helps the beautiful Italian rear-end stand out.
The petrol Urban Cross comes with a ‘Powered by Abarth’ badge and scorpion wheels, but let us get to that later.
The Avventura Urban Cross comes in three trims – Active, Dynamic and Emotion. The dashboard curves nicely on to the doors and the dual-tone interiors elevate the sense of space. The front seats are comfortable and the visibility is good from the height adjustable driving seat but lacks lower back support. The rear seat can seat three and is angled well for comfortable seating. It is split 60/40 for the Emotion trim and is foldable for the Dynamic as well but misses out on the rear armrest in both.
The compass and altimeter dials from the Avventura make way for a cubby hole large enough to stow your wallet and it gets a cover lid in the Emotion trim. The centre console gets touchscreen infotainment with Bluetooth telephony et al while steering mounted audio controls are reserved for the Emotion only. Automatic climate control is offered on the top-spec car while the Dynamic trim gets manual air conditioning. The binnacle of the instrument cluster reads speed and revs and comes backlit in amber. The multi-function display at the centre has the trip computer with average speed, average fuel consumption, instantaneous fuel economy and distance to empty.
Owing to its almost four metre length, the boot is big but the high loading lip would make it inconvenient, especially for heavy luggage. The folding seats also tumble up opening up more cargo space. There are bottle holders in the front doors but they don’t fit a litre bottle while the rear passengers do not get any stowage space except for the cup holder between the front seats.
Thanks to the heavy build, the insulation is good especially for the road noise and there are hardly any vibrations or harshness. It also lets you hear the engine when the music is turned off. The plastics though, look cheap and the trims could have been much better, especially the worn-out denim-like cloth finish on the dash of the Dynamic. The almost white trims (and leather in the Emotion) will be difficult to maintain.
‘Powered by Abarth’ is what drew us in. Yes it is the same 1.4-litre four-pot turbocharged petrol that we have seen in the Abarth Punto and develops 138bhp of power at 5500rpm and 210Nm of torque from 2000rpm. Mated to a five-speed manual, this engine will make you smile every time you step on the gas. The other option you have is the tried and tested 1.3-litre MultiJet diesel mill. Also mated to a five-speed manual gearbox, it comes with a variable geometry turbo and develops 92bhp of power and 209Nm of torque.
If you mash the Abarth throttle, it is going to spin and buckle, twitch and torque steer even on tarmac. The tall gearing and high revving nature of the engine is a delight as the Abarth pulls you beyond a ton in around 10 seconds. Surprisingly, it isn’t flat at low revs and you will have no issues if you opt for traffic-infested commute as well. The diesel is nice too. Once you gain momentum, the 1.3MJD is great. Yes, there’s some diesel clatter and it gets loud when revved hard, but it goes. The gearshifts are also lighter as compared to the Abarth. While the torque peaks after 2200rpm, it builds up linearly from about 1800rpm offering good driveability.
The Abarth suspension is stiff and holds up firmly in corners. The responsive steering is precise and provides feedback. The steering on the diesel is lighter and filters the feedback but is as precise as the Abarth. The suspension setup on the diesel is softer and adds some body roll to the dynamic equation. The ride is pliant but still on the firm side and soaks up bumps well at both low and high speeds.
While both versions run the same 205/55/R16 tyres, the Abarth gets all four disc brakes while the diesel gets discs only at the front. The Abarth brakes have that initial bite, give feedback and will let you know exactly when the ABS would start kicking in. The front disc-rear drum brake setup works great on the diesel as well and the braking is progressive with ABS to back you up in case.
|Model||Avventura Urban Cross||Avventura Urban Cross|
|Variant||Emotion 1.4 Tjet||Dynamic 1.3|
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||138bhp @ 5500||92bhp @ 4000|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||210Nm @ 2000||209Nm @ 2000|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||45||45|
|New Instrument console||Yes|
|Music sytem with Bluetooth||Yes|
|Automatic climate control||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Variant||Emotion 1.4 Tjet||1.2 SX||Dynamic 1.3||1.4 S|
The Urban Cross does everything that the Avventura can and is slightly better at that. But when compared to the competition that has the Hyundai i20 Active and the Toyota Etios Cross, you will see the chinks in its armour. The plastic quality is nowhere close, nor is the feature list nor the convenience but is more than a lakh cheaper as compared to the Hyundai. But bring after sales into the picture and Hyundai and Toyota are aeons ahead especially when it comes to spread and reach of service stations. So, if you want peace of mind the Korean or the Japanese work better. But, if you want a fun car with performance par excellence, the Abarth powered Urban Cross is probably the best offering for a sub-10 lakh price tag.