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Old 27th November 2013, 19:47   #1
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Default Fiat Grande Punto: 4 years, 80,000 kms and counting

A silent night, a holy night, when all is calm, and all is bright.....

Fiat Grande Punto: 4 years, 80,000 kms and counting-hhh.jpg

Every life has a story. Stories of mammels classified as human beings. The life cycle of a human.
Classified into 4 parts, birth, growth, marriage and death.
Life is full of ups and downs, some happy moments, some tense moments, kind of like a game of chess. Its a matter of luck by chance, followed by the real chance.

Fiat Grande Punto: 4 years, 80,000 kms and counting-img-438.jpg

October 19, 2013.
  • 20:00 hours, home: Late evening dinner aside, it was a cool, calm saturday night. We just finished our apples, and dad goes for a mild rest aka sleep.
  • 20:15 hours, home: Dad is complaining that he cannot digest the apple properly, and he throws it out, and goes back to sleep. All is calm.
  • 20:30 hours, home: We have dinner, and dad keeps on resting, since he wanted to give stomach a l'il bit of rest. All of a sudden, I hear weird noises, and run by his side. He is chocking, and not responding to our commands.
  • 20:32 hours: I rush, call my family doctor, he comes in within seconds, and examines him. "Take him to the hospital, he has suffered a heart attack".
  • Few seconds later.
  • No time for ambulance.
  • I rush, take out the keys of my punto, and me, mom, doctor and a neighbour lift him and make him lie down in the car's rear seat. He is sinking.
  • 20:45 hours: We reach max super specialty hospital, directly into the emergency section, and doctor immediately comes out, and we take him to the emergency room. Doctor said,"he has very less chance".
  • 21:10 hours: Sid, he is no more.
We have seen things like this happening with others, in movies, but when this comes in unexpected, unprepared, one is in a state of shock, shaken, shattered, stirred, and in disbelief. We return home after about a couple of hours, only to find scores of people waiting outside our house. The whole neighbourhood is in a state of shock, disbelief as to how can this happen to a perfectly healthy, fit and fine person?
Life is now a viscous circle full of H and W questions. The next morning, the last rites are performed, and the morning after next, the ashes are immersed in Yamunaghat. I drive my car, with my cousin at the front seat, holding the kalash, with his ashes. I don't wanna turn my face towards him, but somehow I have to.
The roads are full of potholes, but the car's brilliant suspension setup ensures that his last journey is cradled in the world of comfort and ease.
The world is mad outside, but the car's sturdy build ensured that the outside world stays, outside and the gateway to heaven is full of peace, on the new world, a new beginning, and perhaps, a new reincarnation...
Days pass. Poojas are performed.
Relatives arrive, relatives depart. But the car's superb boot space ensures that all is packed in relative ease.
While I come back slowly to normal, I realise that there are lots of things to learn. Lie is full of surprises, and ups and downs, but, one does come in to realize that this only makes a human being stronger. And the relatively strong build of my car, nicknamed the red beluga, ensures that we become stronger, in days to come.
Stories, like these, remain forever, in the lost pages of history books. Stories, like these, remind us to celebrate the good times we had and the glorious days we enjoyed.
Stories, like these, make for a celebration of a life, a life lived large.
Stories, like these, are rekindled in the joyous moments we have, we live and continue to live.
But little do they make us realize the importance of finer things in life, and how much a non living specie, defined as a motor car, have so much sentimental value in or every day lives.
Because, as they say, the show must go on.

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Presenting the story, of my red beluga, the story, of my Fiat Grande Punto.

Last edited by sidindica : 29th November 2013 at 20:14.
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Old 27th November 2013, 20:37   #2
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Default re: Fiat Grande Punto: 4 years, 80,000 kms and counting

The story of ups and downs, but by bit

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Things I like:
  • This car has personality, and character. Timeless design, even after 8 years. The brilliance of Guigiaro's magical lines and strokes.
  • The Multijet. Proven, reliable, fuel efficient motor. Tuned for adequate city driveability and has strong mid range.
  • The seat comfort. Opinions may differ, but we have found this to be a very comfortable car to travel.
  • The build. Fortress like, with thick gauge steel. safety personified.
  • The steering. Perfectly weighted, and has soul.
  • The ride. Sophisticated suspension system, smothers bumps and potholes with precision.
  • The ground clearance. No more scraping of underbelly.
  • The aftersales support. Steadily improving after the split. Manufacturer support and dealer coordination with prompt response.
  • The brakes. Brilliantly caliberated, with sure shot stopping power.
  • The boot. Superbly sized, enough to swallow required luggage for those long trips.
Things I do not like:
  • Dead low end on Gears 1 and 2, though improved as the engine runs in more and more.
  • Weak top end. Engine cries for a 6th cog and feels laboured after 120. Inconsistent GB spoils the potential of the engine.
  • Interior ergonomics and driving position. Takes time to adjust to.
  • Small storage spaces practically hold nothing, apart from twin glove boxes which are of some use.
  • Interior quality and feel are more "functional and workman like" rather than "luxurious".
  • Niggles, which are known to be mildly irritating; Short life of stock brake pads a concern.
  • Stock CD only audio system, is from stone age.
  • Less than steller rear legroom and rear seat width.
  • Body roll evident compared to pre 2012 puntos due to raised GC.
  • After sales support need better manufacturer-dealer-customer coordination WRT warranty claims and problem identification parameters.

Last edited by sidindica : 27th November 2013 at 20:38.
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Old 27th November 2013, 21:32   #3
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Default re: Fiat Grande Punto: 4 years, 80,000 kms and counting

The story of uploads and downloads

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The car
Fiat Grande Punto 1.3 Multijet 16V
  • Variant: Dynamic
  • Shade: Exotica red
  • Month of manufacture: August 2012
  • Date of delivery: September 14, 2012
The deal offered

Dealer: Oberoi Fiat, Noida
  • OTR Price of Rs. 6,75,000
  • Rs. 15,000 exchange bonus for my old santro
  • Corporate discount of Rs. 7,000
  • Cash discount of Rs. 10,000
  • Free Insurance (FG comprehensive), extended warranty (24+26 months)and RSA (50 months)
  • Free carpet floor mats, door sill plates and chrome exhaust tip
  • Free underbody anti rust treatment at first service
Accessories and upgrades done:
Store: BK Tyres
  • Swapping of 14" steel rims and wheel caps with JK tornados with Michelin primacy LC 195/60 R15 tyres mounted on Linea wheels.
  • Cost of PLC was Rs. 5600, buyback for old tyre was Rs. 3,000 per tyre.
  • Tyre upgrade done immediately after taking delivery.
Store: Driven
  • Damping: Dampmat on all 4 doors (INR 4000)
  • Speakers, front: Rainbow EL components (INR 9000)
  • Speaker, rear: Rainbow EL coaxials (INR 7000)
  • 4 channel amplifer: Digital Designs C4C (INR 11200)
  • Subwoofer: Rainbow DL-S12 (INR 9800)
  • Stinger wiring and MDF Board for amp
  • 3D kagu Mats (INR 5500)
  • Leather package (INR 10000)
Misc: Pioneer 6590 HU from other source; sport pedal kit from an erstwhile tata-fiat dealer purchased for INR 2700.

Fiat Grande Punto: 4 years, 80,000 kms and counting-img-414.jpg

Last edited by sidindica : 28th November 2013 at 23:28.
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Old 27th November 2013, 22:36   #4
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Default re: Fiat Grande Punto: 4 years, 80,000 kms and counting

The story of accounting

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The decision to buy the punto was never an easy one. Each and every diesel hatch was evaluated that time, and it took a long time of 6 months and countless test drives, listing out all the positives and negatives that all cars had in their respective segments, and family's role played a crucial part in the decision. Each and every thing that was scrutinized had to go under the radar and approval of dad and mom collectively, only then things would go ahead.

The big question-why the change?
Simple answer-I needed a change. My old Santro was already in its 6 figures, and it was becoming increasingly boring to live with, plus that time, the deregulation of petrol prices meant that we had to go the diesel route. And as things stand today, 14 months and 24,500 kms later, it was the decision that will prove to be right in the long term. Moreover, the laws of accounting was testing my patience time and again, and no clear budget as set. Initially it was 6, later reached 6.25, and later it was going up to 7. But, at the same time, arranging the money was no easy task. Lots of things had to be considered, plus moreover, things were not falling in place and my world as just filled with W and H questions. Later on, as the D day arrived, finally, somehow, managed to arrange the paisa, and based on the available money, we chose to go for the dynamic variant.

Why not active/emotion or 90?
Simply because we wanted a VFM product, a product that offered adequate features at a competitive price. Usage pattern did not demand the need to spend too much on 90, plus emotion (just for airbags-a vital safety requirement) was about 80k too costly. Plus it had less discounts. Plus, the personalization temptation at a later stage sealed the deal for me.

How was the buying experiance?
Overall, rather satisfactory but could have been better. I got in touch with Oberoi Fiat's Mr. Rehman and called him to my house for one final test drive and specially told him to get a bruised and a battered car to see how things hold up. Took one final test dive in my locality and again, sounded very satisfied. Handed him the 25k booking amount and placed the order in the last week of July.
As per the stockyard/ plant stock status, not a single dynamic variant was available in exotica red shade and I had specially ordered it to be built. Advantage to me-freshly manufactured piece and some exclusivity. Simply because red puntos are a rare sight in North these days.
The days leading to the purchase were filled with anxiety. I was thinking again and again-are we making the right decision of buying a car from a company that was undergoing a tough transition phase? Have we made the right colour and model selection, and so on. I was out of town, but Rehman called me occasionally to keep me updated on the progress of the order.
The car arrived at stockyard on September 9, 2012 and based on my work pattern/ family comfort, chose to take delivery on September 14 afternoon after doing a thorough PDI on the day before.

The D-Day
Gave the approval to get the car registered (was buying from UP so Delhi registration would take few days) and in the morning, asked him to complete all the paperwork so that when we come we will take the final delivery and start enjoying the car.
I Drove down in my Korean one last time, and purchased a coconut to break before I drive out in my new punto. Paperwork was complete as promised and we took a simple delivery, with no decorations made to the car whatsoever, that's because I insisted on it. I gave them my santro, because they offered the best resale price for it after hard negotiations; and the exchange was done through Tata Motors Assured. Brilliant service by their team.

The paperwork-the area that could have been better
This was a headache. Consider this; the FG policy had clerical mistakes and my address was written with incorrect spellings; the coverage for paid driver was not added and INR 5 lakhs of unnamed PA cover, part of the scheme, was not provided either. The lady who cut my online policy refused to accept her mistake and later vanished, only it took a month and countless e-mails to future generali's top honchos, I got my endorsement documents with corrections.
Moreover, the temp registration was delayed by 7 days due to RTO issues, and I had to daily follow up with my dealer to get my Delhi number, RC and licence plate recipt issued (the HSRP plates were later installed at Rosemarita, Mayur Vihar Phase-3).

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Old 27th November 2013, 23:21   #5
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Default re: Fiat Grande Punto: 4 years, 80,000 kms and counting

The story of election and selection

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Buying a car ain't an easy task, and in the past 6-7 months, I personally started the selection process every weekend. Multiple test drives, haggling with the dealers and scaring the hell out of their sales team was part of their scary ghost stories. Because, every rupee saved is a rupee earned.

So, it was decided, no matter what, each and every diesel car will be test driven and then shortlisted.

The Americans:

Chevrolet Beat 1.0 TCDI
Only model we could consider was the LT-O which came with ABS plus RR washer/wiper/defogger. The only good thing about the car was its on paper fuel efficiency and service plus warranty packages. Rest, the car was full of compromises. Claustrophobic interiors, polarizing styling, wheezy underpowered engine and uncomfortable seats with too firm cushions (solid as a rock) meant that the car had to be instantly struck off the list; without even a second thought. Added bonus: Parents thought that I will look like a girl driving that car, given my choice of colour I told them-cocktail green.

Ford Figo 1.4 TDCI
Multiple test drives aside, I instantly fell in love with this machine. This thing handles so beautifully, the steering just dances to the sound of music played by your command. The engine is extremely user friendly and flexible, though it sounds gruffy (old pre facelift model) and granted it has a weak top end, it does its job extremely well. Space for 5, big boot, almost fully loaded (Titanium) and a competitive price. Its a very good all round package but low GC plus bumper design (too close to the radiator) and low placement of front seats was the last minute deal breaker for us.

The Japanese:

Nissan Micra/ Renault Pulse
Another twins in disguise which we liked for their all round talents and user friendliness. The K9K motor is a gem in city, and till date, the micra remains the most user friendly high quality diesel hatch in its class. Service uncertainties and concerns aside, the cars were nicely built, easy to drive, pretty comfortable (below average rear seat comfort) but had one big deal breaker-brakes, and more so, at that time, no ABS was offered, plus only a single airbag (pulse had option for 2). Safety concerns aside, the price to specs to features to value ratio was not favoring our requirements, the prime reason why it was listed out. The new micra came in much later and now is more complete. But, is also more costly now.

Maruti Swift
This, perhaps has to be the most controversial car ever that we have driven. Because, it commanded insane waiting periods and also, we had to stretch a lot for the ZDI variant. The car was refined, looked good, had brilliant front seat comfort, driving position and handled pretty well. But, for the asking price, I found it to be too compromised. Granted, it has peace of mind, reliability and resale value attached as added bonus but poor rear seat and boot space, flimsy build quality inside and out and the engine lacking tractability in city driving plus the biggest concern-the inconsistent braking mechanism that was also reported by many owners made it to strike it off the list.

Maruti Ritz
This ritzy glitzy glitterati tall boy had easy ingress and egress, nice ergonomically laid out dashboard, better build quality and a touch more practical than the swift. In fact, it was a non nonsense functional car, and also, the engine felt better in terms of user friendliness than the swift. car-toonish looking tacho aside, the biggest drawback that my mom felt, was its rear end design. She compared it with the slice of bread that is offered in shatabdi express and often wondered-why can't shapes be symmetrical and perfect? She simply felt that the car didn't have enough personality. Women, you know, have unpredictable minds. In fact, I too was not so keen because it lacked soul and flair and above all, no passion. Plus, highway use also meant compromising on high speed dynamics. Off the list, it went.

Toyota Liva
Something which is boringly good as a perfect beater car seemed to be a downgrade for the asking price at north of 6.7L. The design was boring inside and out but what sealed the deal was the amount of space it offered. Acres of legroom, width and boot space. Just that perfect dose of practical, reliable family car. The motor is extremely user friendly, very flexible, very torquey, and cost of service plus maintenance is very low. But, for once, let that take a backseat, and what you have a car that is built to a cost, has poorly designed interiors, esp the speedo console, and the sheetmetal gauge is just like tin foil. It won't rattle, but on highways, what if you feel vulnerable to HCVs? And, above all, no rear washer/wiper/defogger for that price. Brand alone does not shout value if it isn't competitively priced. Has to be a risky decision of head vs heart, but, here, neither ruled, simply because we felt that we were not getting our money's worth. After all, first impression is last impression. Off, it went.

The Koreans

Hyundai i20
What better way to judge the car as an existing user of the said brand for 6 years and reviewing it earlier that year? I wanted something that looked god, and that this car wasn't. It looked, like somewhat confusing, something like an aggressive face has been plastered on a conservative body. But, boy, was it loaded with bells and whistles....the engine, easily the most refined, acceleration, easily the quickest in straight line, the fit and finish, all felt premium inside and out. But, something was not right. That was, the car's depth in engineering. The interiors are spacious, flexible and pretty comfortable, the boot is big and its more of a "costly luxury hatch" than something which is targeted at those who love to drive. the suspension is clunky at high speeds, the ride is below average and of course, the infamous steering feel-disconnected and lifeless, just like a 60 year old driving a 60 year old American car. Parts and maintenance were costly, and the added headache of imported components of U2, plus long term longevity concerns (quality of diesel used in India is very sensitive WRT this motor) made this strike off the list, after a long heated debate, of course, for want of functionality over aesthetics. Plus, the price factor-8.5 big ones for the asta (which has the rear wiper-a necessity for me).

The Czechered German twins in disguise

Volkswagen Polo
Creation of walter de silva, he polo has one timeless design, full of simple curves and lines. No doubt, all 3 of us loved it, especially the VW logo. The build quality is precise, with top notch fit and finish. Poor rear legroom aside, the car had ample boot space and nifty attention to detail that we appreciated (quality of fittings, plastics, VW logo boot release mechanism, the body rigidity compared to the cars mentioned above), and all that admiration fell into pieces when we took on multiple test drives at different routes. The GT TDI was not launched, and the 3 pot motor sounds just as crude and unrefined and this is not something that's expected out of a modern common rail motor with DOHC configuration. The car is a pain to drive in the city, thanks to the lag, and the intrusive clutch vibration only makes it more painful. I felt the clutch to be heavy on TD cars, and the amount of usage this car will be made to, body pains will become part of daily routine (at least for me). Minus the motor, and reliability concerns and above all, the cost of servicing have been potential deal breakers. No free service, but that time, VW did not introduce underbody sump guard that was later introduced on highline. I have seen many costly and frighteningly expensive insurance claims on underbody hits, so we decided, to let this forgo, and better be safe rather than be sorry, at a later stage.

Skoda Fabia
Built on an older platform of the polo, The car looks simple, no nonsense, but dig deep behind it and the attention to detail is simply outstanding. It feels and gives you more than what you have paid for. Just look at that build. The fit. The precision. the finish. That dimpled plastics. The solid body and underpinnings. That grippy steering wheel. That space management. That attention to detail inside and out. No surprise, then, the motor has the same negatives that the polo suffered from. It rides and handles well, but the cost of maintenance is sky high, not to mention, the perceived long term reliability and service issues of skoda, at that time. And above all, the high import content=costly spare parts in the long run. Not surprisingly, skoda was incurring losses on every Fabia sold, and as news suggest, the plug will be pulled out soon.

The Indo Italian debate

Tata Indica vista vs Fiat Punto
While test drives continued, this was a battle that lasted for no longer than 40 days between me and my parents. The cars were sold from the same showroom, and jostled for brand visibility and space. Just we looked at the price offered for the 75 VX after discounts and that simply made dad's jaws drop. Looking at features, specs, space and value quotient plus the maintenance into consideration, the vista 75 was offered at a price that was hard to ignore. Within 6, and that too OTR Delhi. I have seen swifts everywhere, and this is a grossly underrated car that deserved my chance. It had nice decent interiors, was built well WRT safety (sheetmetal thickness was top notch), had acres of legroom and width inside and offered ABS plus rear wiper with defogger as standard, something the VDi wasn't. The later models were also better to drive (with the quadrajet) and niggles aside, almost looked like a complete car, just because it was offering an optimal quantity at a value price, minus the boot space, and above all, mom wasn't convinced on the chrome quotient everywhere. She likes simple, understated designs and that played a pivotal role in this decision. Tyre upgrade with 15" was on the agenda, but somehow, let me admit, I still like the older, simple, pre facelifted vista more than this chrome modeled one.

Enter the finalist, the punto. Still looks like a million bucks, is built top notch, has a proven multijet engine, and brilliant engineering that cannot be ignored for Indian conditions. It just feels secure inside and out, goes optimally, packs in large, has a lovely trip computer and brilliant brakes, has a steering that has just the right amount of connectivity, has high clearance that is utmost important while negotiating those speed breakers, has a brilliant ride and above all, its a car with an all round character. True, the interiors look dated and built to a cost, true, the car has a stone age radio, true, the car has slow straight line acceleration, but it more than makes up with its driveability. And its high speed highway dynamics? Its just second to none. Its not a car that excels everywhere but, its something that blends the best of all the cars and makes it into an optimized package, for an optimized price tag, an all rounder, which we required, and at the end, which we got. And the warranty plus other deals offered also, sealed the deal for us.

And based on the money worked out above, we found the dynamic variant, which comes with ABS and RR washer/wiper and defogger and many required list of equipment, to be the best VFM.

Fiat Grande Punto: 4 years, 80,000 kms and counting-img-282.jpg

Last edited by sidindica : 28th November 2013 at 21:56.
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Old 28th November 2013, 22:25   #6
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Default re: Fiat Grande Punto: 4 years, 80,000 kms and counting

The story of geometry

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Geometry ends. Art begins. Heads turn. The story of harmonica, the story of the magical weaving lines of the design maestro Giourgetto Guigiaro can be seen in this creation. The geometry, in harmony with art, come together to create a shape that will remain timeless for yeas to come. Every curve, every line, every shape is executed just about perfectly. And above all, its minimalist, devoid of any unnecessary distraction. Its a story of how minimalism works perfectly and its one of those few designs that will never age rapidly. 8 years on, ever since it was shown to the world in 2005, and India n 2009, it remains a looker. The tear drop headlamps, the twin staged split grille, the huge bumper with pedestrian safety regulation design, the subtly chiseled wheel arches, the prominent crease line running through the doors and merging with the taillight bottoms, the curves of the windscreen, the aerodynamics of the rear view mirrors, the cylindrical pillar mounted taillights, all come in together to create that perfect aura that stands out in the crowd, especially in this shade of exotica red.
And last, but not the least, the multispoke wheels. Some say, its sheer design genius. Whereas, some, categorize as alloys.
In other language, its the perfectly designed footwear for those, who want to make the move.
Some say, there is a hitch. Some say, look at those huge gaps between the wheels and the arch, as a result of the raised suspension. Some say, we are happy in terms of practicality, some say, they aren't. Its a story, some say, of endless, debates, which can continue to go on forever, and ever, and ever...

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Old 28th November 2013, 23:26   #7
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Default re: Fiat Grande Punto: 4 years, 80,000 kms and counting

The story, from the inner sanctum

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Welcome, to the red beluga's inner sanctum. Designed to keep you calm, cozy and comfortable. The dashboard, a direct lift from the linea, and specific to the Indian punto, is a combination of flair and functionality. Just plain simplicity, with simple textures and hues, easy to clean and maintain. The car comes in dual tone interiors, and later models feature grey coloured fabrics n the doors and seats. Lighter and airier, these go a long way in improving the ambience inside. The simple, large and legible instrument cluster looks fantastic, and is easy to read, in any kind of light that its put into. The dash size is huge, and gives a feeling of a sense of security.

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The front seats are large, comfortable but come with softer cushioning which is not something the long distance travelers will like, those who are fans of firm seats. The lumbar support is above average and lower back support is nice. Most of the human frames can fit easily but the backrest can do with additional side bolstering. For my requirements, though, its more than adequate.
Driving position, though, is a hit or a miss. The steering wheel is placed on your face, and lacks a telescopic adjustment, though tilt is standard. Second-the pedals are offset, and the dead pedal a tad too high. Third, the power window switches are placed far ahead. Even with the seat raised, its tricky and hard to get that perfect position. Head room is adequate for many adults, though, an legroom is par for the course. Same goes for the co driver seat.

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Come to the rear seat, and space is clearly on short supply. With the front seats fully pushed back (like in my case), its impossible to make a tall person sit comfortably and interior packaging is clearly not the best, something that the japs have mastered on smaller footprints. The seat is overall comfortable, but for only two up. Width too is not steller, and third person will be a squeeze here. Cushioning, again, is soft but support, more than adequate based on what the feedback that as given from my relatives.

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The boot, though, is amazing. The loading sill is high, and loading luggage is quite a task. The seats split 60:40, so no problem with flexibility. In fact, in november 2012, we had a marriage of my cousin brother, and my car served as a quasi truck for ferrying relatives and their luggage, from the airports, railway stations, to and fro. Lots of baggages were squeezed, and even those of ladies, never known to pack light.

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The car's instrument cluster gets a full fledged trip computer which shows instant consumption, average consumption, average speed, travel time and distance to empty in addition to the usual warning lights. In case anything malfunctions, a warning reminder and light will be displayed on the IC, be it for any electicals, et all.
The car also gets a unique "my car" interface which allows owners to configure various warnings and units related to autolock, speed, date, time, service reminder etc. And, the same can be viewed in 9 different European languages. Party trick, eh?

Storage spaces, though are a hit or a miss. Apart from the twin glove boxes and the GB consoles, there is nowhere else where things can be properly tucked in. The door pockets are too small, the cupholders are more so. And, above all, its the overall ambiance that is a letdown. The interiors are overall improved but the plastic quality, and the precision of fit and finish still have a long way to go before they can match the segment leaders. Its just feels a segment down and more "workman like". Much has been talked about elsewhere on a few misaligned panels (ignition console, lower cowl of the dash under the steering etc) and the same continue to plague my car also. To uplift the ambience, I got art leather seat covers installed, plus wrapped the steering wheel, gear knob, gear boot and handbrake in the same with red stitching, to match the exterior colour.
Plus, 3D Kagu mats and a set of sports pedal kit, puchased from "driven" and an erstwhile tata-fiat dealer who was closing Fiat operations. The result? A hefty discount.

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Last edited by sidindica : 29th November 2013 at 15:33.
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Old 29th November 2013, 19:33   #8
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The story of the heart, glued to the mind, body and soul

Fiat Grande Punto: 4 years, 80,000 kms and counting-img-41.jpg

The car stands at 25,001 kms and counting as of now post third service, that was done yesterday at Oberoi Fiat.
Powered by the venerable multijet, displacing 1248 cc, with a quoted power of 76 ps@4000 rpm and a torque of 197 nm@1750 rpm, this motor is tuned more for driveability, mid range and fuel efficiency (considering the carís heaviness) rather than outright straight line acceleration and itís a known fact that punto is not a car if you are looking for straight line acceleration. When the car was purchased new, the engine had a very restrained feel an often was stalled while trying to upshift early. Low end is decent, in fact, its even better calibrated than the marutis and VW motors, though not in the same league of the K9K/D4D. Response of first gear, which is way too short, is close to nil and the turbo actually spools up when the motor crosses 1850-1900 revs. Second gear is good for low speed crawling but itís the third here the fun really starts. Gearing is tall, and the car can comfortably cruise in city traffic without stalling from 20, all the way upto 130. The turbo is working hard as the car shows its strong mid range, and the engine spins comfortably at 2800-3300 rpm range. Progress, after that is slow, and 4th gear is good for 100-120 cruising speeds. Shifting on 5th, itís clear that the ratio is tuned for highway FE as revs remain consistent in the 3-3500 rpm mark. To get the best of the performance, the motor needs to be coaxed on 4th and once it crossed 130, the engine feels strained, progress after that is very slow. The revs get reduced while driving on 5th but there is no point revving beyond 4000, as the available power wonít be of much use. Asked for, it comfortably revs to 5200 rpm but post 140, the motor runs out of breath. It lacks the top end and flexibility of the VGT 90 or U2 or even the GT TDI for that matter.

Fiat Grande Punto: 4 years, 80,000 kms and counting-img-42.jpg

The problem, therein, lies with the weirdly tuned gearbox and ECU which does sap the motorís potential. The carís quoted power is not much a problem, as torque spread is linear and the engine, for a heavy car, is pretty user friendly. The engine cries for a close ratio 6 speed manual which has the potential to improve upon its strengths. Climbing flyovers and steep roads in 5th is easy, while driving on hills, its best to downshift or keep in 3rd or 4th. When asked for, the engine delivers, and itís just that itís not meant for the enthusiastic driver for outright sprints. In gear acceleration remains strong, and is, in fact one of the carís talents. This makes the car feel faster than what it actually is.
The shift quality of the 5 speed manual is just about adequate. Not the best, but not bad either. Shifts are a bit long, but feel somewhat rubbery and also lack the precision of pure Japanese gearboxes.
The engine, when it was new, and the engine, as of today with three oil changes and running of 25k kms, there is marked difference in the responsiveness and refinement of the motor. The engine has opened up a lot, feels faster and smoother. What does need improvement is the NVH insulation. A weird drone noise is heard when decelerating after taking the foot off the accelerator pedal.

Fiat Grande Punto: 4 years, 80,000 kms and counting-img-43.jpg

Kitna Deti hai?
The car has proven to be fuel efficient as promised, with overall figures hovering in the range of 13-14 kmpl (in stop go traffic) to 15-17 kmpl (normal city driving) to 19-21 kmpl (city plus highway use). AC reduces FE in the range of 7-10%.
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Old 29th November 2013, 19:40   #9
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Default re: Fiat Grande Punto: 4 years, 80,000 kms and counting

The story, from the underneath

Fiat Grande Punto: 4 years, 80,000 kms and counting-img-111.jpg

The secret of puntoís well known talent lies underneath-its suspension system. The front suspension is independent with helical springs, telescopic dampers and a stabilizer bar whereas the rear has a simple torsion beam with the same set of springs and shockers. Rear stabilizer bars were removed in my version compared to the 2009 launch car, when the punto underwent a mild weight reduction. The springs and shocks have become somewhat stiffer, and the GC now stands at 185 mm. My car came with 165/80 R14 tyres, which were swapped with 195/60 R15 on the very same day for better grip and stability. Ride quality remains its traditional strength, and often, it is still ranked as the best riding hatch for Indian roads. The suspensionís stiffness does mean that low speed bumps are felt when the car goes at deep potholes, but that does not transmit too many shocks inside. The car maintains its composure over any kind of road, and as speeds build up, the ride improves and minimal shocks are transmitted. I remember few owners complaining of a thud sound from the rear left suspension but till date, my car has not suffered any. The car has been through many rough roads and many long drives up north and to many semi urban and rural areas also, and the suspension has maintained a superb composure.

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While the ride remains superb as before, there has been some effect in the way the car handles with the raised GC. While the steering remains as communicative as it has always been, it ainít a figo. Body roll is more prominent now, and high speed dynamics, though still the class best, are no longer as good as the old punto. Maybe the primacy LCs have some restriction with their soft compound (they make a squealing sound while cornering), plus the tyres are not known for their outright grip. Changing to sportier yokohamas should do the trick at a later stage. The PLCs have so far proven to be very reliable and durable with only one puncture reported till date from the day of purchase.

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The car has additional strength-its brakes, superbly weighted and provides great stopping power. No fuss, and ABS kicks in just as required, with no reason to complain. The ventilated front discs, rear drums and 4 channel ABS offer all the safety that one needs on the highway. One major area of concern, is the life of OE brake pads. In the latest models, the pads have been modified with a thicker material (the one that wears out) but average life of pads has generally been reported to last in the vicinity of 25k kms. The pads in my car, despite normal driving and adhering to defensive mode in the recent times, only lasted 11k for first set and 14k for second set. It was also noticed that my factory discs were eating pads at an alarming rate (is it possible?)My discs were replaced in warranty just about a month and a half back, and this new disc design, I have been promised by the ASC, will eat pads less.
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Old 29th November 2013, 19:53   #10
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Default re: Fiat Grande Punto: 4 years, 80,000 kms and counting

The story behind the Italian lass-the FASS

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Buying and owning
Fiat recommends a service interval of 15,000 kms or 1 year, whichever is earlier. However, keeping in mind the driving conditions, quality of fuel, the area where my car goes, I have decided to stick to the 10k service schedule. From a normal euro car perspective, the oils and filters and normal running parts are well priced and affordable.
My car has seen three free services so far:
  • First free service at 5000 kms costing Rs. 3,289 as the engine oil was changed along with filters (except the diesel filter).
  • Second free service at 15,003 kms costing Rs. 5,620 odd where all the above jobs were done, plus change of diesel filter alignment and balancing.
  • Third free service at 25,001 kms yesterday costing Rs. 4,810 (after discounts on parts and labour owing to winter camp) where same things were done.
Changing the diesel filter was like overkill, but after that, the carís new found smoothness is back. Especially after the amount of long traveling and torture it was subjected to.
Services were done at Oberoi Fiat and I am a satisfied customer overall. The team is willing to listen, cooperate and ensure that we all go out happy. I did get 2-3 small parts from kashyap, but it was merely cosmetic, because oberoi did not have them in stock.
However, when it comes to sorting out niggles and warranty claims, this is where Fiatís quality control, manufacturing precision and the dealerís ability to diagnose the problems in first attempt goes against the promise. The coordination needs to be improved and my car too had its fair share of niggles and warranty claims have been made for the same.
  • Rear parcel tray replaced at Oberoi, under warranty after its inner material broke, causing it to rattle. Done in 1 visit.
  • Front brake discs replaced in warranty, after a squealing sound was detected while braking at stop go traffic. This took 3 visits, lots of fights and e-mails to Fiat and Mangesh Kodalkar plus support from the GM service to get this sorted out.
  • LHS Front door stopper replaced at wheels Fiat, Mohali after it gave up (khat khat sound while opening and closing the door).
  • Seat rattling, resolved after multiple trial and error attempts.
  • Horn pad, replaced in warranty.
  • Steering column, which has been making some weird noises, will be the next one to undergo a replacement next weekend. This took no less than 8-9 visits and shooting of strong worded mails to Fiat for the same.
Fiat Grande Punto: 4 years, 80,000 kms and counting-img-315.jpg

Let me admit, Oberoi Fiat and my Punto will soon develop a love affair for each other.
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Old 29th November 2013, 19:59   #11
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Default re: Fiat Grande Punto: 4 years, 80,000 kms and counting

Stories of my belugaís close caretakers

Fiat Grande Punto: 4 years, 80,000 kms and counting-img-112.jpg

Initially, after getting my car, I was skeptical of whether or not to change the audio. For the first few weeks, I got my speakers changed to basic rockfords and was listening via a FM modulator. This was done from driven, located in east of kailash. But once, I made my mind early this year, I decided to go for a full fledged audio setup.

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And thatís where the duo of Mr. Rana and Subhan came to the rescue. I was a noob at ICE, but at the same time, had some taste of listening to soft music with occasional trance, and in stages, I did my ICE upgrade. The Pioneer HU 6590 BT (with Bluetooth, USB, aux and CD) was sourced by a known friend and the speakers were traded in for rainbows. EL components with tweeters at front, EL coaxials at the rear, with dampmat damping on all 4 doors and he suggested me to go for digital designs 4 channel amp called C4C. I heard rave reviews and liked it for being VFM. Still not technically inclined am I, and things like watts, SQ, SPL are things that go beyond my head. I just auditioned as an audiophile and got the same installed, made on MDF board covered with black rexine mounted on rear seat. The subwoofer was a toss between rainbow DL S-12 and gladen and on listening to both for almost 30 minutes by various adjustments, choose rainbow for its refined punch. The system needed multiple visits to get the tuneup as it was desired and somehow, we have become very close friends with each other. The carís lather package was also installed by him and the designing was done by me in actual, via my imagination. He went berserk but was pleased by my overall outcome. Also, he played a pivotal role in eliminating my interior front seat rattles.

Fiat Grande Punto: 4 years, 80,000 kms and counting-img-47.jpg

Retro Rraps
Till date, I got my car platinum detailed once from them and was very impressed by the quality of work. Located at MG Road, Gurgaon, headed by Deekshit, Ricky and Rohit, their team worked hard in giving my car a glossy finish in July 2013. In late December/early January, my second visit will be there for another round of platinum detailing. And above all, they charged a competitive price for exterior +interior+engine.

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Also, replicating the same, my car seems to have developed a bonding relationship with these two outlets. And stories, like these, will continue, for years to come.
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Old 29th November 2013, 20:07   #12
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The final story

Fiat Grande Punto: 4 years, 80,000 kms and counting-img-69.jpg

Itís not every second, minute, hour, day, week, month or year that we get opportunities to explore our own inner instincts and create relationship stories with our automobiles. Living with cars is like a love hate relationship, just like a Bollywood love triangle, but, perhaps, we have come to appreciate the nitty gritty things that make us love, or hate the same. Cars are meant to take us from point A to point B, but few of them have the ability to connect around us. To communicate. To speak. To express. And what not? A car is a creation of a human being, and its our creations that speak for us. The personality, the shape, the size, the performance, the FE, the overall support after we purchase, all things fine, thatís what makes relationships between we and cars happy. Just like the best friends. Perhaps, its, just like our inner instincts, connect us close to our prized possessions. The friendship, and bonding maybe just 14 months old, but bonding stays intact, eternal, forever, for years to come. One can go on and on writing stories, but, after a long time, these stories become part of our everyday lives, because of the relationships we build with our machines. Take good care of it, and it will reward you in return, just like your best story of bondage.

Fiat Grande Punto: 4 years, 80,000 kms and counting-img-179.jpg

The beluga, is like a second home for us. We have seen brilliant things with it, it took me places where I did not dare venture out earlier, it has proven to be very economical, fuss free and easy on the pocket. It took me through the toughest of the times. Yes, it does show tantrums which irritates me a bit, but that makes for another story in itself. But, what I wanted from it, it had delivered in all counts, and does so. And it will keep doing so, as long as I spend time and money in keeping her in top notch condition, just like I did for its predecessor. Above all, it has proven to be a reliable workhorse. And above all, itís a symbol of remembrance to a lost soul, to whom I had regarded as my best friend, but never had the courage to express it.

Fiat Grande Punto: 4 years, 80,000 kms and counting-img-181.jpg

I may continue on and on, but at sometime, somewhere, the story has to take a break. Stories, that remain forever, close to our hearts, buried deep in the lost pages of history books.
Stories, of the people, by the people, for the people, who make the move.

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Old 30th November 2013, 08:42   #13
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Default re: Fiat Grande Punto: 4 years, 80,000 kms and counting

Note from Moderator: Thread moved to Long Term Reviews from Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing the review with us.
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Old 30th November 2013, 09:04   #14
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Let me take the honor to congratulate you first Sid. Such a detailed report, my God. As they all say, 'details matter' , and your ownership surely stands out regarding that.
I still remember in the first meet, I saw your car, and believe me, I thought it had just rolled out of the red carpet of the Fiat Caffe nearby. Your car is indeed so well maintained. Age? What age? All I could make out was it was brand new!

I really loved the pictures of my Adventure and your Punto together. Beauty and Beast eh?

Here's wishing you many many happy miles with your Punto!
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Old 30th November 2013, 11:00   #15
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Default re: Fiat Grande Punto: 4 years, 80,000 kms and counting

Welcome back Sidindica.

The Safari Chronicles by !xobile has been one of my all time favorite threads in team-bhp ever. Few days back when I saw your post in Kolkata Car Fanatics page in facebook, I somehow knew that we are going to see more of you in team-bhp now. We seriously missed your scoop stories !!

Sad to learn about your dad's sudden demise. May God give you and your family all the strength to cope up with these tough times. But as you said, the show must go on. And you have penned down a terrific review of the Punto, I must say.

This is one amazingly detailed review of an amazing car. Lovely pictures too. The Punto looks hot in red and it has been quite a while we read a fresh Punto ownership review. I believe Dynamic is a very sensible choice and wish the 90bhp was available in all trims. Lovely detailed description of the car. I am glad you are back with a bang.

Rated 5-stars !
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