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Old 16th April 2012, 12:23   #1
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Default A thin line between genius and insanity - Fiat Grande Punto 90HP - 1,30,000 kms and counting

Him: Is it your's?
(I woke up, to the sound of few school kids, may be around 12 years old, standing near to the driver's window of my car)
Me: Yes.
Him: 90 HP?
Me: Yes.
Him: Very powerful, right?
Me: Well, its about enough to keep up.
Him: I have driven this car, its one of my favourites.
(Dont ask me how 12 year old school kids get to drive cars! Anyways - their claim was genuine - as I got to confirm it later!)
Me: If its about power, dont you think Swift does better?
Them (Almost all of them- in a chorus- most of them breaking their silence!): Naaa. Swift is too common! Punto is one of our favourites!

Day 10 of ownership. Chanced upon an unexpected conversation with few kids from an international school. I was not inside a Mercedes, nor a BMW; I was sitting inside my humble FIAT (a brand that struggles to sell atleast 1500 cars a month, which i used to crib in the sales thread) - at the parking lot of an international school, waiting for my fiancee. Day 10 - I realise the kind of exclusivity it possess in its family.

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3 months back -

Friends/ Colleagues: Hey, heard you booked your new car. Which one?
Me: Swift. (Yep, I had. Waited for around 6 months!)
Them: Nice car. (End of conversation, almost always - Almost everyone knows how good Swift is! Either they have in their family/ extended family or within their immediate friends circle. Nothing more they want to know/ discuss!).

Back to the present day.

Friends/ Colleagues: Hey, heard you got a new car. Which one?
Me: Grande Punto.
Them: Oh! Which company? / that's from FIAT, right?
Them: Nice/ Different (May be, choosing not to offend) choice.
Them: Why FIAT? How is the car? Whats the mileage? Petrol/ diesel? They use same engine as Maruti? SX4 engine?
(So on & so on. Most of them have no personal experience with the brand and are eager to hear more about its positives and negatives! A big change, compared to the conversations we had few months back when I was a Swift customer - and from the same people!).

Within few days of ownership - I had to accept the fact that this car was a conversation starter, in almost all cases. Either people were curios to know why I chose the car, some where excited to hear the news, some were shocked and wanted to find out what went wrong with the Swift deal etc. I just hope nothing goes wrong with the ownership experience, for I'm sure it would be a conversation starter once again. And conversations can go wrong and hurt, easily!

Same day (As that of the international school conversation) evening.

A loose link rod (within 15 days of ownership) issue had forced us to travel in the trusted old WagonR, leaving the new car at home. A new Swift ZDI passes by, I guess, on its way from the showroom.

Family member 1: New Swift ZDi. Looks like they are delivering more cars these days.
Family member 2: Anyways, our Punto looks a lot better than that Swift.
Family member 1: If it is indeed so good, why are we forced to travel in this WagonR now?

I had no answer for that question. FIAT had let me down that day, with the brand new car experience. I came to know later-on that the loose rink rod issue is common with new FIAT cars - and its because of improper tightening from the factory. Why not get your QC right FIAT?

I'm no FIAT fan yet (to be on the safer side)!

And I guess I can get quite a few FIAT'ans to vouch for that (Thanks to many heated arguments we would have had, on the forum! So much so that, when I posted about my FIAT booking - I was greeted with 'What has the world come to!' by one of our senior members!) I've been a happy customer of Suzuki since 1999 - and almost gave them another 7L of my hard earned money - but well- God had other plans. New to this world of FIAT - I was waiting to put some kilometers under my belt to better judge the car before compiling this initial ownership experience. As i start typing this report - its been 25 days since the car has joined our family - and its already completed 4000 kms. Yes, 4000 kms in the first 25 days! EDIT: As of today, while I'm about to submit this report- Its done around 5100 kms in 43 days.

As someone posted in the sales thread - it seems only FIAT fans are buying FIATs these days. I guess its not on every other day that a Maruti loyalist goes on to purchase a FIAT car! And in that sense - I hope this ownership thread turns out to be unique and unbiased.

Anyways - now here you go - Presenting Turbokat - My FIAT Grande Punto 2012 - 90 HP Emotion

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Last edited by Vid6639 : 30th April 2012 at 09:01. Reason: removing extra smiley. Thanks!
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Old 16th April 2012, 12:41   #2
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Default Re: A thin line between genius and insanity- Ownership Experience- FIAT Grande Punto

Why FIAT? Why Grande Punto?

'When in doubt, make a fool of yourself. There is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on earth. So what the hell, leap.' - Cynthia Heimel (No idea who he/she is though! But nice qoute. )

I was bombarded with these questions - from friends, family and teammates. To most - I was being the biggest idiot on earth, and to some - I was being a true auto-enthusiast. To me - I blame it all on a test drive. I had driven the Punto before, but this time it was going to be different. I got to drive through some real bad roads - and the suspension brought a big smile on my face. Handling was brilliant, power was bit less (Was driving the 75HP car, although it doesn't make much of a difference when compared to the light-n-zippy Swift.), car was built to last and the steering was so direct! The grin on my face was so wide, the smile lasted a good 30 mins after the drive!

When i booked the Swift back in September 2011 - I found Punto to be an equally competent machine. Swift ZDi though - was just as good and had none of the problems associated with owning a FIAT in India. By February 2012 though - my wish to have the car by mid-march for marriage related runs, depression from a 6 month waiting period threatining to stretch into 7 or even more, strikes, indefenite waiting period, ever increasing Swift prices, proposed diesel car taxes and the newly launched Punto 2012- all led to a great disturbance in the force. New Swift's rear end (My would-be made it a point to refer to the Swift as a frog) felt weird each and every time I saw it (Was hoping that I'd get used to it) and how I wish Maruti had new-Dzire like beige interior option in Swift! The dark side was growing strong within me, feeding on my anger and frustration everytime the dealer asked me to go for the lower versions to get an early delivery!

My would-be who was accompanying me for the test drive was equally impressed with the Grande Punto, and this was the final nail in the coffin for the Swift. It was her first choice - from her list that included cars like Skoda Fabia, Skoda Rapid, Nissan Sunny, Hyundai i20, Swift ZDi and Ford Figo. As she as she sat in the car and closed the vault-like door - she had a huge smile on her face, and it also helped that the Punto had a huge boot. The smile only grew bigger once she got to experience the rear seat comfort (Not the seat as such, but the superb suspension).

Made this poster that night to echo my feelings, on facebook. Booked Punto the next day.

(Disclaimer - PS work from multiple pics, one being our own Swift official review.)
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Why Turbokat?

I wanted some name with turbo (That made the Swift DDiS what it is, and it sounded even better for Punto with VGT) and yes - something with cats would have made my better-half happy (Married people will know the importance of keeping them happy!). Thats how turbocat was coined. And it sounded very familiar. Old memories (and an awesome soundtrack) came rushing back - and so, it was changed to 'Turbokat'. Atleast some of you would have fond memories of Cartoon Network and Swat Kats - their jet fighter being one of the dream vehicles of my childhood days! Punto is no agile jet-fighter though (That would be the Swift ZDi), but more of a Beoing 747 which can eat miles for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But it flies, for sure - no matter how good/bad the roads are!

Should have been a black (or even tuscan wine would have been delicious) car though! But IMO white looks better in all situations, while Tuscan Wine and Oceanic Blue looks good depending on the lighting conditions and hence white was chosen. Easier to maintain as well!

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Last edited by GTO : 6th July 2012 at 12:41. Reason: No comments against anyone's sexual preferences please
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Old 16th April 2012, 12:49   #3
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Default Re: A thin line between genius and insanity- Ownership Experience- FIAT Grande Punto

Likes & Dislikes (After 25 days & 4000 kms of driving).

What I like:

Me: Guess what speeds were are doing now?
Wife: Around 100? (And since I had asked about the speed - she had added another 10- 20 kmph to her what her instinct told her!)
Her: What? 140? I couldn't notice at all!

(Not on public roads. I do not encourage such speeds alongside slow moving traffic, with our unpredictable road conditions.)

  • Simple and stunning design.
  • Design has no weird/ akward angles to get used to, and will age gracefully (After all - its already been 7 years!)
  • Solid build quality.
  • Stock seats feel very good, and the design is impressive. Had people asking if it is part of the freebies/ aftermarket accessory.
  • Diesel FE with reasonable power.
  • Superb suspension. Raised ground clearance gives confidence to handle our roads.
  • Good highway mile-cruncher. Can handle 120 - 130 kmph expressway cruising without breaking a sweat. As mentioned by GTO in his review - 140 kmph in a Punto - you'd be yawning. Really!
  • Hydraulic power steering that communicates!
  • Red + orange lighting for all dials and meters - looks very sporty at night IMO.
  • Features - ABS, airbags, bluetooth, USB, internal hatch release (mentioning because I hated the idea of electromagnetic release in Swift), follow-me-home headlamps, electric mirrors, rear wiper etc. Features list, however, does look spartan compared to that of the new i20 (but it costs significantly more too).
  • Get in the car, shut the door - and the outside world remains outside. Very good insulation! Plays a good part in hiding the speed from the passengers, except if they are looking at the speedometer.
  • Stock ICE - Much better than what I expected, and what I have heard in TD cars. I believe they have made changes to the music system in 2012 models. I believe - few other BHP'ians are happy with the stock ICE in their new FIAT as well. (autocrat,
  • Powerful AC - In Chennai sun (And I'm talking of April noon here - in one of the hottest parts in the country!), the temperature is set at 25 degrees. And it cools the cabin in no time!
  • Powerful and confidence Inspiring brakes.

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What I don't:

Me: Media
Car-lady: Media Player. The available commands are ... (Lists out some 5 options!)
Me: Advanced USB Options.
Her: Advanced USB Options. The available commands are... (Again lists out some 5 options!)
Me: Folders.
Her: Folders. Please use the steering wheel navigations to scroll (Blah blah!).

Another 10 secs, and few clicks later - I have the folder I was looking for! Total time taken - Definitely more than 30 secs, even upto a full minute - for what should have been just a button click! And, all that i wanted to do - was to change the music folder! If you regularly plan to an USB drive to listen to all your music, beware - Blue & Me is made by Microsoft - and its complicted. Period.

If you thought that's it - Microsoft and FIAT has another ace up their sleeve - the placement of USB slot inside the glovebox.

crazybiker46 wanted to check out my car. I asked him to bring his USB along - since he is an audio buff - I wanted his opinion on the stock music system. I pick him up - we start driving and he pulls out the USB drive from his pocket. I tell him that the slot is in the glovebox - a bit on the upper side. After a few minutes of yoga and stretching later - he gives up. We pull-over to the side and spent a few embarrassing moments close to his lap (Must have been weird for those watching from outside! ;-) ) trying to figure out the positioning of the USB slot inside the glovebox. Finally - had to ask him to open the door and get out, so that I could go down on my knees near to the front-passenger side door and try.

  • Microsoft Blue & Me intergration, as mentioned above. Let me stress - blue & me itself is pretty good. My only complaint being above the way its been integrated with the system.
  • Either a serious lack of underthigh support, or my inability to find a proper seating position. There's something missing in terms of ergonomics! The steering wheel too, at its lowest position, is still too high for my liking. Clutch has way too much play, and accelerator posititioning can cause pain in the ankles after a long drive. Cramped footwell is a bother too - but after a day or two of driving - I seem to have got over that one - even with my size-10 Woodlands.
  • Interior fit, finish and quality are strictly average. Plastics wont impress anyone, although the 90HP feels better with the old interior scheme IMO. Glovebox misalignement is a BIG SHAME for a premium hatchback.
  • Its more of a tourer (GT car) rather than a sprinter. Relaxed high speed touring is what it does best! You better be really skilled if you plan to match the outright acceleration times of i20 CRDi and Swift DDiS.
  • Engine noise higher than cars like Swift when revved. But noise levels inside the car are very low while on the move. Its mainly a negative only at parking speeds.
  • Rattles from some plastic parts, in an otherwise silent car. Yes, you read it right - rattles - from the front left and right doors. And mine is not a one-off complaint either.

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Last edited by CrAzY dRiVeR : 29th April 2012 at 15:58.
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Old 16th April 2012, 13:08   #4
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Default Re: A thin line between genius and insanity- Ownership Experience- FIAT Grande Punto

From the archives...

Most people dont like history lessons. Hence, I will keep it simple and short here!

This was going to be the third car in our garage, starting with the ubiquitous, but cheerful little 800 in ’99 (sold in 2006) and a wonderful little WagonR (From ’06 till date). We plan to keep the WagonR for some more time and may be, sell it off if we dont feel the need for it anymore/ if old age starts creates serious problems for us/ a need for another car arises.

The first Suzuki was the only choice we had in the market. The second Suzuki was bought because parents loved it, though I wanted the swift back then. The third Suzuki was planned because it met all my requirements, I knew i was in love with it, and it kept the family happy as well. Punto was the runner-up back then, and so went ahead an booked a Swift ZDi in September 2011. Fast forward to 2012 february - Swift was still not delivered, but the decision had been made - it had to be the Punto 2012.


EDIT: After i had typed this section of the report - a certain thread popped up.


Too many emotions to be put into words - I'll just say - 'You were more than a machine - And will be fondly remembered'

- Our first car!
- No major niggles faced during ownership experience, except for gearbox linkage failure (due to underbody impact most probably).
- Remains a fresh memory and I repent selling it. Was a beauty in the ‘Phoenix Red’ colour that it came with.
- Direct steering.
- Good FE.

- No a/c for our std version, which was the major reason we upgraded.
- Struggled a bit on the highways, specially for overtaking.
- No servo brakes! Braking from highway speeds used to be a heart-in-the-mouth affair.

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- Tall boy design liberates loads of interior space, specially headroom and legroom.
- Light steering, huge glass area all around, and slab sided design almost makes for the perfect city hatch. Visibility all around is very good, and no bulging corners to guess. Small dimensions too!
- Music system. (Was a basic 12k setup, but just loved the sound output. Got lucky with the configurations, and the placement of the rear speakers in a sealed box).
- Engine behaviour is like a very refined turbochared diesel engine. Pulls cleanly from 30 kmph in 5th gear even on slopes and has a definite surge of torque once near the 1600 – 1800 rpm mark.
- Handling was good for a tall-boy design, and never really bothered me / interfered with my regular driving.

- Suspension! Crashes through every thing it can find once the speed picks up, and pitches in road undulations at highway speeds. Rear seat passengers cannot enjoy the journey at all, though its better at the front. NVH levels inside the cabin while crashing through potholes in very unpleasant as well.
- FE figures slightly below the 14 kmpl mark.
- At 100 kmph on the expressway – you are aware of the tall boy design and its inherent weaknesses. Although the handling never gave me tense moments, you are made aware of it, specially during braking.
- No ABS
- Remember the refined turbocharged diesel engine I mentioned above? Its makes an autorickshaw like whine below 1500 rpm, and a roar above 3k rpm and its perfectly audible inside the cabin.
All said and done, I think WagonR (specially the old gen) is one of the best city cars out there, and one of the best cars my parents could use for their occasional city runs. Hence, the decision to retain the car as well!

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Last edited by CrAzY dRiVeR : 18th April 2012 at 15:00.
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Old 16th April 2012, 13:16   #5
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Default Re: A thin line between genius and insanity- Ownership Experience- FIAT Grande Punto


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As mentioned above – it is due to the increasing usage of our petrol WagonR and monthly (Or atleast once in three months) highway runs, that the new car became a necessity. The fact that I may be getting married soon (No, no dowry involved. ) also helped in the thought process. Always good to have a new car for marriage!

Below were my minimum requirements for the new car.
  • Swift. The new car hunt started because I wanted to get the new Swift. Ended up behind enemy lines though.
  • Small car, due to parking constraints (Big car needs to be parked on the street). Turning radius was extremely important along with dimensions - else it would cause us to reverse up a slope for a good 300 – 400 metres for taking the car out of our lane. If you see the list of cars we considered - we went upto Cruze - but small cars were given preference.
  • Started with a budget around 7L OTR +/- 1 L.
  • ABS is a must (Airbags included is better, but not mandatory).
  • All door power windows. (WagonR had only front power windows, and I really did not like this fact. Its irritating when people leave rear window open, and you realise this later when stuck in traffic.
  • Fun. Engine + handling combination. (WagonR was good for its height, but it was never fun. After spending 5 years with it, i wanted something real fun to throw around).
  • Good highway cruiser.
  • Comfortable for 4, and decent enough space for 5 people.
  • After-sales is ok as long as I'm not made to wait for spares.
  • Looks! I love photographing my cars, and I wanted something photogenic!

Cars considered
  • Chevrolet Beat diesel.
  • Ford Figo TDCi
  • Ford Fiesta Classic TDCi.
  • VW Polo 1.2 TDi.
  • VW Polo 1.5 TDi (Upcoming).
  • Maruti Suzuki Alto K10.
  • Maruti Suzuki Swift DDiS.
  • Maruti Suzuki Ritz DDiS.
  • Maruti Suzuki DZire DDiS.
  • Renault Logan 1.5 DCi.
  • Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi.
  • Honda Jazz.
  • Mahindra Scorpio 2.2 LX.
  • FIAT Grande Punto 90 HP.
  • FIAT Linea
  • Chevrolet Optra TCDi.
  • Chevrolet Cruze TCDi.
  • Nissan Sunny 1.5 DCi.

Used cars considered-
  • Chevrolet Optra TCDi.
  • Honda Civic.

Yes, “This guy is mad for what” would be the expression in your mind! But – in my defence- I got a long time to think as my parents took their time to finally give their nod for this upgrade, and aftet the decision was made - Maruti wasted several months of my time - during which I was again hunting for my next car. Also, some cars just came to mind, but did not make it to the final round of selections due to various reasons.

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To cut a very long story short - lets go back in time - to September 2011. New Swift had just been launched - and I knew I wanted one. I wanted one ever since I saw one back in 2005. I had waited 6 years for this dream to come true - and it finally was going to. TD was done - I just loved it. The new Swift had become so much better than previous version. Just to be fair - did a TD of Hyundai i20 CRDi and FIAT Grande Punto 75HP. Decision was made - booked Swift.

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Why were the other two rejected? i20 had a fantastic engine and fabulous interiors - but it failed to impress on the dynamics front. Grande Punto (Pre 2012 version) was just as good as the Swift, but it just didnt make any sense to choose one over the new Swift. Back then, it had a turning radius of which would create huge headache for me parking into our house everyday and this was its biggest drawback against Swift. Swift also had MSIL brand backing it up, which meant - good service, good availability of parts, good resale value, good reliability etc. Swift it had to be, then!

The waiting period had started. Nearing Jan 2012 - it was getting clearer than the car would not be delivered on time for my wedding (Which was a good 6 1/2 months away when I had booked the car). Once again - the hunt started, but this time - I had dragged my fiancee along.

We started with the main competitor to the old Swift - Ford Figo. I mentioned old swift because I consider the new Swift to be half a segment higher (and priced higher too) compared to the Figo. TD was a positive experience. The car had enough low down grunt for city roads - never felt underpowered in the city. Space was enough, my fiancee was comfortable in the backseat. I should also add that - it was her first choice when we started the hunt. However - while leaving the showroom - we had another glance at the car from a distance - couldn't help but think how dated it looks. She echoed my thoughts - this car would look boring few years down the line. Lack of power windows at the rear was also a major disappointment, just not done for a premium hatchback.

The next showroom visit was for Hyundai i20 CRDi. I had taken the TD back in september 2011 - hence I needed only the price list. She was really impressed with the space available + quality interiors. Infact - the only positive to have come out of this visit - Once we saw the i20 interiors (Immediatly after coming from the Ford showroom), Figo was dropped from the list completly. As mentioned earlier - i20 failed to impress us on the dynamics front, and even she didnt like the way the suspension sorted things out for backseat passengers. However, if you just want a premium commuter loaded with features- i20 is one of the best.

We visited the Toyota showroom as well, although no one cared. Everyone seemed busy, we just checked the cars and left. (Had a very pleasant experience the next day when i went for a TD of Etios Liva diesel). Only fly (But a big nasty one) in the ointment - the cheap interiors.

Toyota - Did you let your accountants design the interiors?

Next up - was Chevrolet. We went to check Optra Magnum TCDi. Somehow - ended up checking the Cruze LTZ and TD'ing it. Showroom people also kept diverting our attention to the Cruze everytime we had enquired about the Magnum. (Thinking back, I feel the showroom guys missed the trick here. Magnum was a stretch for us - but would have been able to somehow manage it if we had liked the car so much. But Cruze was not only out of our budget - we couldnt even think of parking it outside on the street - after spending so much on a car!). Anyways - Cruze TD was fantastic, but both the Chevrolet cars were dropped off the list. Tried to search for used diesel Magnum's but could not locate anything to my satisfaction. Honda Civic - was another car I loved as much as the Swift. I've always wanted one, and this search for used Magnum's ended up as a search for used Civics. Although good options were available - another look at the ownership threads, the reported mileage, petrol costs and my daily travel - had me back to solid ground. It had to be a diesel. Sadly - the Honda had to be dropped off the list as well!

Back to the real world - started the hunt once again - With the VW/ Skoda stable. Polo was quickly dropped - even without a TD. The noisy 3 cylinder diesel engine, lack of space at the back and glaring lack of features (It was the costliest of the lot as well!) made sure we didnt even request for a TD. The story was completly different with the Skoda. Pleasant and solid interiors, spacious interiors and the all-round premium feel had done it for my fiancee. Skoda Fabia became her first choice. I was thinking of Skoda service horror stories and the noisy 3 pot diesel - but her mind was clear - it had to be a Skoda Fabia.

I was sure - this is it, the end of days as superstition calls it - a fierce battle would start in few days, and I was prepared to stand ground. A quick look at all the Skoda horror stories revealed that the Chennai dealer was indeed very notorious in Team-Bhp for their attitude! 6 years - I had waited for my FTD car - and I was not going to let it be a Skoda Fabia!

And - as you would have already predicted, I lost handsomely - we were soon on our way to TD the (Fabia & Rapid). But first - we had to visit the last showroom (That would mean - we had checked all the cars present in the segment before taking the plunge) - FIAT. I had saved this for the last - since I had already test driven it and was really impressed - back in september when we booked the Swift. But no - the car was different. It had been relaunced as the Punto 2012. We went into the showroom (On a Sunday, I must add!) She sat in the car, closed the door - And smiled from ear to ear. (The famous FIAT 'thud' had done it!). Interior quality was just average - but not a big dealbreaker (Glovebox was ok in the 2012 display car!). Space was good, boot space was good, build quality was awesome - it was time to ask for the TD - and to our surprise - they arranged a TD car (With proper stickers and works!) immediatly - despite it being a Sunday!

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SE started the drive. He took a deviation from the main road - into a very sad road with lot of potholes - and just flew over them! (The famous Punto suspension had done it once again) Both of us were impressed. It was time for me to drive - and had fun running over potholes on that road. 'Yes - this is it. It should either be a Swift, or a Punto. Within this budget - nothing else comes close to the driving experience'. Her mind was clearer, once again. But this time, Fabia had been thrown out of the equation- it had to be a Punto.

Took a few days to finalize between Bossa Nova White & Tuscan wine. Finally- went for BMW since I believe it looks better in all light situations - while TW/ OB looks best in bright sunlight. BNW is a lot easier to maintain as well!

Last edited by CrAzY dRiVeR : 21st April 2012 at 08:41.
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Old 16th April 2012, 13:24   #6
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Default Re: A thin line between genius and insanity- Ownership Experience- FIAT Grande Punto

Dealership Experience

Dealer- Concorde Motors, Velachery Main Road, Guindy.
Overall satisfaction - ****-
Recommended? Definitly Yes.

Surprise Surprise! It was very pleasant experience with all the three dealers I interacted with - Concorde Motors- Guindy, TAFE Reach- Pallikaranai & VST Mount Road. All three had dedicated staff for FIAT cars, had 2012 display cars and even had 2012 TD cars (or could arrange the same). None of them seemed to have had 2012 90HP for TD, but even FIAT website was not clear about 90HP 2012 models till about 1 month, so I'm giving the benefit of the doubt to the dealers in this case.

Concorde Motors had the best showroom among the three. One side was dedicated to FIAT- with display cars for Linea and Punto. There were many SE's with FIAT branded T-shirts/ shirts. The particular SE (Vinodh) I interacted with - had a good knowledge of the car, seemed to know what are its strengths and weaknessess. Infact- he was instrumental in the decision process- by choosing a road that completly highlighted the fantastic suspension. Concorde Motors also had multiple TD cars - Old 90HP (Which doesnt seem to be in proper condition), and 3 new 2012 TD cars with proper sticker and the works. One thing I did not like about Concorde was that they qouted a much higher price intially (Less discounts) compared to VST (Pretty straight forward). Although they matched the VST offer at the end.

Once we struck a deal, booking was done on the next day- with a promised delivery date of 15 days. Car arrived in the yard on the 16th day - and was delivered after registration on the 20th day. So, I'd say- they pretty much met their commitment. Of particular mention is the lead (Raman) who kept track of the car and gave proper updates.

PDI was allowed - with a short drive inside their yard. Didn't find any issues except for the (known) Punto glovebox misalignment.

Delivery day -

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Everything was properly arranged, all booklets and cards properly handed over (They were having their own internal checklists for the same - impressive!), basic functions explained, photo taken (And they gave it in a frame within 2 mins!), gave us a nicely wrapped box of chocolates (We had a box of sweets to gift the SE as well) and a coupon for 5L of diesel. Everyone clapped as we drove the car out! All in all - they made us feel special.

Something had to go wrong somewhere, right? Yes, it did. The freebies I had bargained for - included Car covers + Door Sill protection plate among other stuff. But I had planned to install sunfilm on my own from outside. However - there was a misunderstanding somewhere - and they installed sunfilms (Instead of the above two stuff) in the car. Pretty dark ones at that (I would not have opted for such dark tints on my own!)! However- We somehow felt it added to the looks of the car, and hence chose not to make a scene out of it. Paid extra and got the Door Sill Protection plate as well.

Most impressive part - I did not want dealerships stickers (And Concorde had two sets of them- 5 words in total!) stuck at the back spoiling the clean looks of the car, but i forgot to mention it on time. But, the SE had already instructed the staff against putting any stickers on the car, and asked me if I wanted it pasted! Even the sticker with FIAT helpline number - he asked me where I wanted it pasted. Very impressive, and not something I expected at a TATA-FIAT showroom!

Last edited by CrAzY dRiVeR : 21st April 2012 at 07:17.
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Old 16th April 2012, 13:34   #7
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Default Re: A thin line between genius and insanity- Ownership Experience- FIAT Grande Punto

Driving Performance - Initial report.

Has been improving! So, I'll not be saying anything final on this, yet. Only two advices to anyone considering a purchase of the Punto - 1. Dont TD a brand new car. Punto drastically transforms till around the 5k kms mark. 2. Take a long TD. A short one will only tell you how long the clutch play is, and how the pedal arrangement messes with your shoes! Once you get used to the car - Punto is just brilliant to drive.

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For a week after taking delivery - It was disappointing - for a 90HP car. But its been improving constantly. Now, at ~4200 kms - the car has enough grunt above 1500 rpm. Max speed acheived till now has been around 160. Speeds went fine till around 140, but it felt strained climbing from 140 to 160. (Not on public roads, as mentioned earlier) I'm told that things will improve after first service (@ 5000 kms) and the max speeds will be around 170 - 180.

However - this car is not about top speed, nor acceleration. Its about cruising - the best GT car among the hatchbacks available in India, IMO. 120 feels so effortless, and as GTO mentioned in his review - it actually feels boring. Your co-passengers wont even understand the speeds you are doing. For example, at 140 - I asked my wife what speeds we were doing - and her guess was around 100. Brakes are very powerfull as well, and brings the car to a very confidence inspiring stop. This ability to mask high speeds is another reason why it doesn't feel as Sporty as the Swift in acceleration - first reason being the gradual spooling of the turbo.

Handling is brilliant as well - but I would rate more points to the ride. Its smooth - and the Punto just ignores all the small potholes and bumps. Even the larger ones are ironed out as the speeds build. The combination proved lethal - on winding hilly roads leading upto Munnar, Kerala. The little FIAT had no problems climbing in 3rd and sometimes even in fourth gear. Healthy torque range proved helpful in getting good fuel efficiency as well - as the MID showed an average of 18.3 kmpl, for this uphill journey.

A word of caution though - If you're planning to buy this 'small' hatchback for cutting through city streets - Get a WagonR or something else. This car is wide! The low seating postition and the allround visibility (the lack of it) gives you the impression that its even wider than it already is. After driving around in a Punto for a few days - cars like Mahindra Verito and Swift felt easier in judging the width. Rear visibility is nothing to write home either - a thick C pillar and the absence of a quarterglass making life difficult while reversing. I would strongly recommend adding a reverse sensor to the package (Or bargain for one from the dealer before taking delivery).

But yes - all these negatives are forgotten - while in the cruise mode. Nothing in this segment comes close to such an experience.

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EDIT after first service: Car has become so much smoother at the same rpms. Even the sound feels a bit more sporty, and not as harsh as before. Although the first service experience itself has been bad (Mentioned few posts below in detail), I am in love with the car all over again after I got it back from service.

Last edited by CrAzY dRiVeR : 29th April 2012 at 16:01.
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Old 16th April 2012, 13:44   #8
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Default Re: A thin line between genius and insanity- Ownership Experience- FIAT Grande Punto

Review - Design and interiors.

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Let me put in short and simple - w.r.t looks. Its beautiful IMO. Everyone knows how good/ bad a Punto looks. (http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/indian...sed-looks.html (Ranking of hatchbacks in India Based on looks.)) So, lets just leave it at that. There is only one sour point w.r.t to looks IMO - the set of lamps with reverse light on one side and fog lamp on the other. Most people think the left one (reverse lamp) is broken! Definitly not cool, that one!

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Interiors - are a mixed bag. The seats, for example - in the 90HP are just fantastic (Stiff, body hugging seats with red stitching, 3 'P' logos) but then - the misaligned glovebox ruins the party! Quality of materials is just average - and doesn't even compare with the interiors of the new Swift IMO. However - what the Swift wont offer is the solid build.

Atleast - thats what I thought! Had a drive of a Swift ZDi two weeks back. It feels a smaller car compared to the Punto from the inside - the main culprit being - the high seating position and the front glass being much closer to the face than in the Punto. Had the same comment from two Swift owners as well - that the car feels much bigger to drive than the Swift. You sit lower, have a high set dashboard in front of you, and the front glass is miles away. All this makes you feel safe (Once I really thought FIAT fans were exaggerating! It does make you feel secure, once you get used to the car!).

Boot capacity at 280L is a boon! Thinking back - I dont think Swift would have met our requirements in that regard!

Ergonomics - are a Japanese speciality. Long clutch play, cramped footwell, raised steering wheel etc shout the fact that Italians have not mastered the art. Most of the controls in the dashboard, front power window controls, mirror controls etc are beyond comfortable reach. The good part? You get used to these within a 100 - 200 kms of driving. It will still be irritants in extreme situations though - Like in heavy traffic, the clutch positioning will be a pain!

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AC is an absolute chiller! No two ways about it. In Chennai sun (And I'm talking of April noon here - in one of the hottest parts in the country!), the temperature is set at 25 degrees. And it cools the cabin in no time!

The stock music system was a shocker - in that it sounds good. Much better than what I had expected, and what i heard in the TD cars. Called fellow BHP'ian and RF fan crazybiker46 and he shared the same opinion - stock system sounds ok. I had the upgrade already planned - and it looks like that will have to wait - till I get tired of the stock sound.

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Last edited by CrAzY dRiVeR : 25th April 2012 at 13:55.
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Old 17th April 2012, 08:05   #9
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Default Re: A thin line between genius and insanity- Ownership Experience- FIAT Grande Punto

Reported Fuel Efficiency:

Let me confess - I haven't checked the exact fuel efficiency yet. Will do that probably after first service, and update the thread later on. The below figures are an approximation based on the info that the MID has been throwing at me.

• 1.3 MJD with VGT : ~19 - 20 kmpl(City) / ~19 -20 kmpl (Highway with speeds less than 100 kmph) / 18 - 19 highway with speeds more than 100 kmph. 16-17 kmpl with a heavy right foot.

I'm happy since I wanted a FTD that would not hurt the pocket, and was not particular about mileage being best-in-class. If you want mileage as first priority - better options are available.

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Old 17th April 2012, 10:34   #10
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Default Re: A thin line between genius and insanity- Ownership Experience- FIAT Grande Punto

Issues faced + Service Experience #1 - Loose link rod @ 1500 kms.
Service Satisfaction - *****
Service Centre - Mohandas Motors, Trivandrum.

Known issue, but was a painful moment for me, as described in the opening part. Anyways - service center did a great job in resolving the issue within 20 mins. As recommended by TVM BHP'ians - I went to Mohandas Motors in TVM. I was there at 8.30, even though they officially open around 9am. I got the car back from the center around 9.25 am. No booking asked for, no charges, no billing. Its been around 2700kms since, no issues so far.

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Issues faced + Service Experience #2 - 1st service @ 4700 kms.
Service Satisfaction - *----
Service Centre - Concorde Motors, ECR, Chennai.

Completed first service yesterday. And it went as expected. Concorde Motors, ECR. BAD experience - Almost like a 'welcome to tata. This is how we will treat you'.

1. Had booked an appointment. Reached there at 9am. Got an SE assigned around 9.20. Since my house was a good distance away - I asked them multiple times how much time would first service take. I got the reply as 6pm, since they have lot of FIAT cars to be serviced. If you have a lot of cars - why give an appointment to someone else? Its not like I asked for thursday in particular to get my car serviced!

2. They were pushing for 3M Anti-rust coating, and I gave in - with a promise of delivery by 6pm itself (No extra time than needed for service).

3. I spent the next 1 1/2 hours walking to the bus-stop, taking a share auto, taking a bus and walking another 1 1/2 kms to get to my house. Reached @ 11am, and got a call @ 11.25am that car is ready - and only exterior wash is pending. I guess they were planning to push for exterior polishing/ Anti-rust earlier itself - and thats why the 6pm target was given. Totally I had to spent around 2 hours 45 hours in travel! (Due to traffic and walking needed). If this time was given earlier, I would have waited in the lounge itself!

4. All paper work was done. SE went to get my car. 15 mins later, I saw him running around the compound looking for the car. Turns out - someone accidently parked it inside the yard, and almost 10 vehicles were parked directly behind it. (One by one - they had to be reversed to get my car out!)

5. While giving it for service - I forgot to take the USB from inside the car (Its inside the glovebox and concealed from view). Yes, got stolen. I have nothing concrete to show that it was inside the car. And to be fair to the SE - he had asked me to remove every external removable item from the car.

6. Had HUGE www(dot)concorde(dot)com stickers at the back! They said - its some TATA policy. Had to make a scene to get it removed immediatly.

7. Only issue reported - rattle from front left door. NOT fixed.

Overall - bad day. Only good thing - the SE was a down to earth guy, and appeared to be trying hard to make up for the rest of it. Although he pushed for Anti-rust coating, he informed later on that it has already been done from FIAT - and hence not needed.

Will be reporting issues faced and service experiences in the same format, as they occur.

Last edited by CrAzY dRiVeR : 20th April 2012 at 08:20.
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Old 17th April 2012, 11:00   #11
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Default Re: A thin line between genius and insanity- Ownership Experience- FIAT Grande Punto

Accessories/ Customizations

Car is pretty much stock till now - and judging by my happiness index - it may remain stock for atleast a year. Here's the small list of things I've done to the car.

Accessories/ Customizations #1 - Mudflaps
Brand - FIAT OE
Cost - Freebie.

Fitted only front mudlap. Have kept the rear mudflaps for installation if needed, during monsoons.

Accessories/ Customizations #2 - Sunfilm.
Brand - God knows!
Cost - Freebie.

This was the result of a goof-up by the dealership (Mentioned in detail in the dealership experience section). Although the dark sunfilm looks good on the white car - it affects visibility, specially at night.

Accessories/ Customizations #3 - Carpet floor mat.
Brand - FIAT OE.
Cost - Freebie.

Carpet mat with Punto branding, and seems to be of good quality. Was planning to go for 3D Kagu mats as soon as I get the car, but these mats have made me change that decision. Will upgrade once these mats start to look spoiled.

Accessories/ Customizations #4 - Door Sill Protection Plate.
Brand - FIAT OE.
Cost - Rs 391/-

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Accessories/ Customizations #5 - Samsung Mobile Original Car Charger.
Brand - Samsung.
Cost - Rs. 390/-
Sort of looks like a 4*4 lever, doesn't it?
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Accessories/ Customizations #6 - Team BHP stickers.
Ordered last monday. Arrived on wednesday night. That was FAST!

Accessories/ Customizations Planned
  • Music system upgrade - This was the first upgrade planned immediatly after taking delivery of the car. However - to my surprise - the stock system sounds good. Going to use it for sometime before upgrading.
  • 3D Mats- Again, had it planned for immediate change after taking delivery of the car. But, stock carpet mats felt good enough. So, will probably change once the stock mats start feeling old.
  • Linea Arm Rests, if possible.
  • Reverse parking sensors -
  • Car cover -
  • Pete's/ Dieseltronics - Most probably on 1st birthday. 102 bhp sounds very tempting! Or a remap, may be? 110 bhp?

Last edited by CrAzY dRiVeR : 29th April 2012 at 16:04.
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Old 18th April 2012, 10:33   #12
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Default Re: A thin line between genius and insanity- Ownership Experience- FIAT Grande Punto

Short drive Impression: From my friend and bhp'ian crazybiker46, who happens to be the only other BHP'ian who has driven the car.

Original post, with pictures can be found here (Fiat Grande Punto : Test Drive & Review).

Had a test drive of crazydriver's GP 90 HP , my first drive of a fiat

Initial impressions It feels like a petrol car , not much turbo kick , feels like turbo kick is spread over 1800 -3000 rpm range

Being new , i didn't push the car too much and clutch has long play and i felt little bit difficult from my seating position (i remember clevermax saying about long play of clutch in Fiat cars)

Also for me the steering wheel position seems to be high (even though set in lowest position) but finally got accustomed to it after couple of kms

Nice handling and car feels solid built and nice suspension too (CD said its soft but not soft as my Beat D )

Overall its a car for relaxed driving , I felt swift more sportier but I think i will change my opinion once car has done some more km and opens up

Sujay had a tough time in connecting USB , he had to bend down on his knees and look up into the glovebox to find the slot , very bad ergonomics

Coming to ICE me & CD had a lot of discussion on changing stock ICE and after purchase CD was saying ICE is better than expected ,Had an audition today and me too felt stock ICE ok

But one of my colleague's husband who drives a Punto had a talk with me about changing stock ICE as he felt sound quality was pathetic

is there any difference between stock ICE of Punto & Punto 90 HP?
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Last edited by CrAzY dRiVeR : 21st April 2012 at 07:48.
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Old 29th April 2012, 13:06   #13
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Default Re: A thin line between genius and insanity- Ownership Experience- FIAT Grande Punto

Last and the best post- By my better half, in her own words. The things I had to offer - to get her to write this, on the forum! Anyways - here goes -

Well i am not a 'gear-head' to write my impressions in an automobile site. I judge vehicles according to its internal and external beauty and boot space . With this in mind I had shortlisted figo, fabia and i20. Figo because my friend had one, so i knew about it, i20 because of its interior beauty and Fabia because of its external and internal beauty, boot space and the Skoda emblem which is my second favourite emblem among cars (first is Audi but cant afford now).

And that day came when we had to finalize the car and book it. We were on our way to Ford, had a test drive - felt good. We then headed towards Hyundai - felt even more good and dropped Figo. Next journey was to Skoda - saw the car got impressed, we were unlucky to get a test drive that day so booked a test drive for the next day and came back home, which actually paved the way for our Punto.

The next day came (which was actually the first day of our Punto) we were on our way to Skoda showroom on the way we saw Fiat showroom. Suddenly my husband (that time he was my fiance) told "why cant we just see Punto" ; I actually got irritated and told OK. Went inside the showroom saw the vehicle - that was the first time i am seeing Punto. Internal beauty was not impressive; but when i shut the door the hard and tough feel it gave impressed me to the maximum and i immediately told - "we will buy this car" and dropped the voyage to Skoda showroom.

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So, thats its for now. Will be updating the thread as more events and experiences come along.

Last edited by CrAzY dRiVeR : 29th April 2012 at 15:34.
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Old 29th April 2012, 16:18   #14
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Default Re: A thin line between genius and insanity- Ownership Experience- FIAT Grande Punto

Thread moved from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 29th April 2012, 16:42   #15
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Default Re: A thin line between genius and insanity- Ownership Experience- FIAT Grande Punto

Let me be the first one to congratulate you on acquiring the HOTTEST hatch in the country.

Wish you millions of happy & safe miles in your Punto and a Happy Married life too. All the above posts from you have been nicely written after a detailed study. Very helpful for new buyers.

By the way, have you got the spare key of your Punto along with the delivery? What about the OEM horn? Any plans to get it replaced?

It seems you have got a nice collection of pictures. Please do share more.


Last edited by Irish : 29th April 2012 at 16:50.
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