Most people will not spend much time on the highway, but what little time we do spend is holiday time, meaning the experience needs to be a good one. The Urban Cross got a shot at this when it was drafted in as a support car for our video crew on a trip to Goa.
There were one or two complaints about the Urban Cross – first, that the boot space is too small for the kind of vehicle it is. It can take weekend luggage for four, but serving a full load of DOPs and their equipment was a tall task for the Urban Cross’s boot. Secondly, cruising at anything over 110 kmph meant that wind noise discouraged any conversation at civil volumes. Finally, the fuel efficiency dipped significantly with a full load and with the constant cruising at triple-digit speeds. This is not a knock on the Fiat’s efficiency as an absolute, mind; we still made it comfortably from Pune to Goa on a single tank with quite a bit left over. However, it would be nice to have a more consistent figure from a diesel driveline.
Speaking of which, the engine hums at 2500 rpm in top gear when at 100 kmph, which seems a little high for this class of car. The turbo lag that isn’t very noticeable when a single person is driving it also becomes a little pronounced, meaning you have to keep the engine above 2000 rpm if you want to retain performance when loaded. However, the brakes never leave you wanting for bite or feel, no matter the load. Oh, and that subliminal ride can’t be fazed by anything, at any speed. The tyre roar can get intrusive when you’re hustling along, but they offer great grip, both in the dry and wet.
The inside story
When you have four people in your car, you’re going to have four mobile phones. And they’re going to want to charge them at some point – but the Fiat offers only a single 12V socket, when cars in the same segment have begun offering two sockets for the past few years. Another Achilles heel is the storage space – the cubby hole at the top of the centre console is useful as a sunglasses holder, and the coin holder to the right of the steering wheel is very useful because it shuts, but the door pockets will not hold a water bottle that is even slightly wider than the standard 1 litre bottle.
The rear passengers have to make do with door pockets big enough for just a wallet and not much else. There are generous seat back pockets for both front seats, but they eat into the limited kneeroom available.
Even the front occupants will have a tough time, because the way the mobile phone fits into the space ahead of the gearlever makes the shift lever jam up against the phone when in first and third gear sometimes, and the space below the handbrake can’t be used for a large-ish phone as it fouls with that lever when it is disengaged.
To sum up
The Urban Cross isn’t a bad car, oh no. On the other hand, it is far from perfect. But if you love driving and want to go down random dirt tracks, there is no better option in the segment.
Photos By Kaustubh Gandhi