Abarth Punto First Drive Impressions : Scorpion King is here
The Indian car market has been very conservative with petrol engines. Most of the car makers tune a hatchback’s petrol engine for better mileage than performance. This means that those who are in need of better performance are forced to pick a diesel hatchback. The performance that the diesel offers is much better but it isn’t mind boggling. The concept of hot hatchbacks has still been alien for Indian car buyers, until we saw the Polo GT TSI that was a quick hatchback.
This was still not at par with the hot hatchbacks we have seen in Europe. But now we have the Abarth Punto that is a lot more powerful and close to what we can call as a hot hatchback. We lay our hands on the Abarth Punto and take it for a quick spin on the streets of the national capital. How does it perform? We tell you in detail.
The Abarth Punto is based on the same Punto Evo platform and it is manufactured in the company’s same Ranjangaon facility. With about 85 percent of localisation, the Abarth Punto is one of the first hot hatchbacks to be made in India. The design is the same like Fiat Punto Evo, however it gets major changes to differentiate it from the conventional Punto. First major change are the Abarth livery all around the car. This red set of vinyls are very prominent and grabs your attention.
Another important aspect of the Punto is that all the red Fiat badges are now gone and it is replaced by the Abarth’s red and yellow Scorpion badging. The only difference in the side profile are through super hot looking Abarth alloy wheels. These are 16-inch ones and the tyre size is 195/55R16. These are called as Scorpion alloys. This indicates there is more rubber to offer better grip. Then the sporty side skirts too add-on to the styling of the silhouette. The Punto’s ORVMs are red in colour, in co-ordination with the Then there is also a chrome exhaust tip, trademark we have even seen on the Fiat Linea T-JET when it was launched back in 2010. The Abarth Punto comes only in two colours, White and Hip Hop Black.
There isn’t a major change on the inside though. The Abarth Punto and the regular Punto look the same on the inside except the new Abarth badging that has taken over the Fiat one. In terms of features the Abarth Punto offers integrated music system with bluetooth audio and phone connectivity, aux and USB connection, steering mounted audio controls, voice command, all four power windows with express down feature. There is only one variant on the Abarth Punto.
The differentiator are minor touches like the new instrument cluster that has Abarth mentioned and has the Abarth colours in it, then these colours are further sed as a stitching on the seats as well. When you start driving, you will notice the aluminium race pedals, which contribute to the sportiness of this hatchback. Abarth has added several small touches that makes the Abarth Punto feels a lot more sporty than the Punto Evo. The textured finish on the inside adds to the style quotient and is a major differentiator between the premium Evo interiors and the sporty Abarth.
The space on the inside hasn’t changed a bit. The front seats are large and comfortable with good headroom and legroom for tall people too, while the rear is a bit cramped. The knee room is a bit tight if a tall person sits ahead. This makes it difficult to do long trips. The other aspect of the Abarth Punto is the key has electric boot release, which was only seen on the Linea only.
The real change has happened underneath the hood. The Punto now has a Scorpion-badged engine, the 1.4-litre T-JET that has an output of 145bhp and 212Nm of maximum torque. Whatever little we drove of this engine, we loved it. It is smooth and has sufficient grunt to pull with ease. However at very low engine rpm, you need to downshift or need some extra push from the right foot to make it moving. Press the accelerator pedal and once you are past the 2000rpm mark, you are in for a treat. Keep the engine revs about 2000 mark and you won’t an issue with overtaking or driving in city. It is the third gear, where the major pull comes in and the best power band for this gear is between 50-100km/hr. The engine sings and scoots rapidly.
The gearbox connect to this engine is a five-speed manual and we aren’t happy to report that it is very notch. Fiat could have improved this, but it is the same box that we have seen on the other Fiats and the shift feel could have been improved on it. The fuel efficiency as per the ARAI cycle is 16.3km/l and we need to drive this hatchback for a bit longer to share our analysis of how efficient it is. But at the moment, we do not have any figure to share.
The ride quality of the Punto is pliant. It doesn’t feel jittery on bad roads. Fiat has tuned the suspension just ike a racing car, but then the ride is still commendable. The handling of a regular Fiats is one of the best in the segments and we haven’t driven the hatchback much. We will do a detailed review when we drive the Abarth Punto for a longer duration.
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||145 @5500|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||212 @2000-4000|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||45|
|Tyre size||195 / 55 R16|
|Abarth Scorpion Alloys||Y|
|Smart Power Windows||Y|
|Sporty Seat Upsholstery||Y|
|Abarth Race Pedals||Y|
|Bluetooth Voice Connect||Y|
|All Four Disc Brakes||Y|
|Rear AC Vents||Y|
|Abarth Instrument Cluster||Y|
Competition All Specs
|Variant||1.4 T-JET||GT TSI|
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||145 @5500||103 @ 5000|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||212@2000-4000||175 @1500|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||45||45|
|Tyre size||195/ 55 R16||185/60 R15
The Abarth Punto’s price is Rs 9.95 lakhs (ex-showroom, Delhi) and this buy is more from the heart than mind. It is all about how happy you get when you get behind the wheel and it is certainly a great step taken by Fiat for Indian car market. We can see the hot hatchback market open up and see more cars following up.
One of them is Volkswagen with its Polo GTi. The Abarth Punto is a step in the correct direction as Fiat buyers have always wanted more power and this is the hatchback that will be pick for those who need a more powerful hatchback. Fiat has been listening to its customers and this is one of the products that will get delight to Fiat buyers across the country.