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Old 24th April 2010, 16:15   #1
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Default Fiat comes full circle :: Punto MJD now 2-year ownership review

Hi guys I am a 27yr old motorhead from kerala. Been closely following the forum for last 4 years but decided to take the plunge as a member only recently.I had been on the lookout for a personal hatch the last 6 months and had a difficult time deciding on one.So go ahead and read this story.

The very first car that my family owned was a fiat – premier padmini.Had it for 13yrs and over a lac kms till ’96 when we got a M800 and then in ’03 traded it in for a Indica V2 DLS and come 2006 added a fiesta 1.4 duratec EXI. Thankfully none of the cars where a chore to maintain except for some minor indica niggles. Of these I extensively drove the Indica and of late have been using the fiesta as my steed(Live 140k away from home at med school).

The Indian car scene had astonishingly progressed in last decade so have the priorities and expectations of the customers.Car segments overlapping each other,snob value of brands all make car buying a difficult choice.

After handing down the indica to bro,we were in need of a car for my personal use.(Parents were hooked with the ease and dynamics of the fiesta that I was forced to get a new car with a budget of 6-7 lacs).
Though my running of approx 600k monthly hardly justifies a diesel, I expected running to soon increase and liked the low down torque of diesels.

The cars that were in contention:
Suzuki Ritz petrol and diesel
Suzuki swift 1.2 petrol
Indica vista quadrajet
Fiat punto 1.3
Hyundai i20 magna CRDI
Ford figo titanium TDCI
VW polo petrol

My priorities were:
hmm a little too much to ask for from a hatch as I been spoilt by the brilliant fiesta platform.I absolutely loved the neutral handling ford and its ride,high speed poise. Though 82 bhp petrol may not be much on paper,the 1.4 mill must be driven to be belived.It had the right combination or fuel economy.city driveability and putting a big smile on your face on those spirited highway drives.Not to mention the hassle free ownership,the total amount being spent on the car these 4 years being 3500rs, no breakdowns yet.We keep our cars a minimum or 7 yrs and do low mileage running hence the priorities were a bit different from your average (first) time buyer who would blindly flock to a maruti or Hyundai(see that I have not even mentioned the popular swift Vdi).Front seat space was paramount coz me being 6’2” so was ABS.Not too much interested in back seat space as I would driving alone most of the time.

My brief summary on each car that I test drove:
Suzuki ritz:
decent styling,good engines but did not give a big car feel.Maruti never seems to sort the crappy ride of their cars.Handling was nothing home to write about.
Suzuki swift:
Having driven the DDIS of my colleague extensively,performance and handling was top notch,then again dated interiors and ride and the fact that every other car in my college was a white swift diesel(most ot then rattling too).
In feb 2010 Swift k series was launched and at 5.1 lacs OTR with enough budget for splurging on mods, it briefly held my attention.This engine was in every way similar to the fiesta 1.4 mill.Delicious!
Indica vista:
Been sorely disappointed with the looks, interiors of vista when launched after lot of expectations.anyway drove one and found to be uninspiring from a drivers point of view.MJD in this was the best refined though.

Enter the punto:
Have been wanting to buy one since it was launched in Europe.So 4 yrs later with much fanfare it was launched in India.After the intial rave reviews none voted it Best in class. not to mention the many niggles that every other owner faced on this forum.
GTO and Sidindicas reviews gave a pretty good picture of what to expect.So around oct 2009 test drove petrol version and found the ride and handling awesome as expected but 90 bhp was no where to be felt on this car.interiors were a tad disappointing.Fast forward to dec ’09 and a thorough ride at kannur dealer with the MJD was a good one. I aimed at getting emotion 6 lacs OTR then.
However parents would not even hear about it,were against buying it for no particular reason.another test drive with parents in tow reaffimed their apprehensions as they found interiors cheap and diesel noisy.not to mention the 30 mins they made us wait in spite of calling the dealer beforehand.

Same day checked out the i20 and they were mighty impressed.I too found the magna CRDI a very refined and powerful unit,top notch interior finish and bigger cabin.however the steering was imprecise and ride only average.the price at6.75 lacs was a bit steep and price hikes two times would put it over 7 lac in a month and after a bit of background work found out maintainence would also be a bit high,irrespective of my low mileage runs.But came very close to booking it if not for my decision to check out the polo and figo which were soon to be launched.

March came and so did the budget hike, both punto and i20 prices were now 30k pricier.
I soon forgot about both and eagerly waited for another Euro hatch polo which I was reasonably sure about its dynamics and built,and only had gumptions on the supposedly 3 pot engine.A brief checkout of the car revealed its nice finish and interiors but found value only in the petrol trendline @5 lac OTR. but waiting period was a putoff.The showroom was full of people booking it without a TD.Eventhough the base model had no ABS liked the overall package eventhough rear seat space with me in front amounting next to nothing.VW offered full refund of 50k booking and me too would had just booked it knowing the long wait if not for the fact that I forgot to bring along the cheque book that day.

A week later got a call from ford about the new figo.Initial impressions were good. A TD of petrol and diesel a few weeks later impressed me enough to book one red titanium TDCI.This car ticked almost all the boxes except for the dated looks.Interiors were nothing special but overall absolute VFM at the moment.Delivery was promised soon but a month passed with no sign of car in sight.with the cheap OTR price I had planned a slew of accessories.
The figo owners thread was quite interesting but deep down I had a sense of disappointment.I even had set a desktop background to pic of Gemithomas red figo to help me to get to like the car but then again – something amiss.Brother was against getting a staid looking car, he said it was like an edentulous granny!

By late march the yearning for punto started stirring sgain.showed parents pics of Sids white punto and the improved parts and this time they gave the thumbs up.So ran off to kannur KVR to book a white MJD emotion after confirming the upgrades in the 2010 model.Luckily they had 2 white ones in transit and 3 days later rushed off to see the car in person.chose the car with a sightly better finish after checking all possible things.(No TD was allowed).
Since I was too busy at college to pick the car at delivery ,had it delivered to home 40 kms away on april 2nd.Dad and bro were very satisfied with car,mom bowled over with looks and so did every neighbour who came to check it out.

As for me, got to see the car finally after 3 weeks! Had a long drive over 450k in 2 days.

Here are my first impressions(600 km)
Exemplary fit and finish.The fiat logo is Delicious.Minor details abound which do not show up on camera.Wheelcaps have good design but not well fitting.not planning any alloys for now.
Good dash design,sporty.Improved plastics noticeable.seat height adjust lever is flimsy.not fiddling with it too much. Coarse texture of plastics make look like a year old already.miss the beige shade of linea.Most plastics are hard built though.
For a tall person like me I take the seat all way back. pedals protrude a inch too inside for liking.did not find footwell to be cramped.dead pedal useful. Control stalks are thankfully of good quality.Absolutely liked the trip and menu settings
Basic sound quality.poor bass,acceptable mid range,tweeters don’t sound as if they are present.7 band EQ present.Think will have to replace rear door speakers with ones on rear parcel shelf to deepen bass.FM reception not stong enough.No problems with reading the CDs though
well bolstered with firm material,good lower back support,better than ones on my fiesta.Rear ones decent. I never use them!
Perceptibly improved 20% over my colleagues 2009 model.road noise stays out.@ 80 kph in 5th gear,2000rpms its only a pleasant drone.tyre sound over bad patches filters in about same as on the fiesta.wheelwells could do with more padding.The narrow gap between mirror and front window produces a perceptible whoosh over 100k.most of the sound is masked well by music.
Now perceptibly quieter,almost linear power delivery above 1500rpm.noisy over 2500 rpms.nice to ride the torque wave.most inclines climbed better than fiesta .Highway drives with less traffic is a joy.need only to downshift to 4th sometimes.overtaking moves need a bit of planning though.compared to sprightly fiesta which needs to be shifted down a cog or two and voila!you are done with the overtaking.The engine bay is neatly packed though(compared with messy indica).City driving average.big turn ing radius somrtimes a pain.
The absolute clinching point.175/70 tyres play their part without loosing out too much on handling.At all speeds better than fiesta,less noisier too.low gc up front means you have to be careful over bumps.
Way better than expected!beats the fiesta?yes.body roll minimal.however turn ins not sharp as desired.Staight line stability is way better too.
A bit heavy for my liking.(fiesta is perfect),nice to hold.precision is above average.
Overall a nice package,fits the bill if you do many highway jaunts.

Niggles:front passenger door release (internal) not working,slight squeak from plastics around steering column over bad roads.

Dealer experience:average.Used to give indica there too before.they assured parts procuring not a problem.they have a good workshop,service guy was quite knowleageable.

Final OTR: 6.32 lac including extended warranty
5.5k Teflon + underbody by dealer from wurth
1.4 k tints 40% rated garware
Thinking of getting good art leather seats.

Signing off:
Cancelled the figo booking,they charged 3.5k.got cheque within a week.Ford dealer was very prompt in all matters.they are a improved lot!actually wished me well on gatting a punto and agreed it was the better car.Hyundai guys were hospitable but too uptight on discounts.Maruti dealers were the best with regard to follow up.VW was downright snobbish.

Punto is a brilliant car with average engines and interiors but comes across as a good vfm car with certain attributes which may not be a huge criteria for the general public.Given the minor niggles which almost all owners I have talked to till now have faced, Fiats comeback plans have not quite clicked the way they expected to.I wouldn’t recommend this car to a friend whole heartedly if my opinion is asked for.Its the just opposite I would do for fiesta though.

A big shout to all Tbhpians whose reviews helped me make my decisions. I still believe there is a void to be filled in the quest for the perfect diesel hatch in India.
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Old 24th April 2010, 16:22   #2
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Congratulations and best wishes, aditya116, for your proud possession.
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Old 24th April 2010, 16:28   #3
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Congratulations on your new Punto!
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Old 24th April 2010, 16:39   #4
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Wonderful Review. The car looks cool in white. I guess most people who want to buy a Fiat go through the same "rejections". Only a lucky few finally get to own one. Wish you a happy ownership. And look forward to a detailed long term review
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Old 24th April 2010, 16:41   #5
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Thumbs up

Aditya, Congratulations on your new Punto. She looks majestic in White.
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Old 24th April 2010, 16:46   #6
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Hey congrats and welcome to the Punters club !!
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Old 24th April 2010, 16:50   #7
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Neat, elaborate and crisp writing. Loved reading it. Congrats on the buy
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Old 24th April 2010, 17:08   #8
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Phew third Punto thread start today.

People who complain about Fiat are generally who haven't driven one! My dad's first car too is a Padmini! And its still the most preferred car at home even today!

Congrats Buddy!

Last edited by arun1100 : 24th April 2010 at 17:13.
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Old 24th April 2010, 17:10   #9
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Wow!!! I am totally amazed! Yet another Punto!

Congrats and welcome to Fiat owners Club.

Hope you saw my Punto thread. Fiat comes a full Circle in my case too!

My family's first car too was a Padmini. I still have it!

Last edited by Sujith1100 : 24th April 2010 at 17:12.
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Old 24th April 2010, 17:10   #10
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Hey Aditya,

Your family car history is freakily similar to mine. Our first car was a Premier Padmini way back in 1989. In '96 we got ourselves an Omni which was followed by an Indica V2 DLE in '01. Finally in '06 we got ourselves a Swift!!

I've gazed, driven and lusted over the Punto many a time, and I hope to do the full circle sometime in the future when I buy a car by myself for the first time.

As for your acquistion, enough praise has been heaped on the car already so I have nothing more to add. But I wish you many miles and years of wonderful memories. Congratulations on the new Fiat!
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Old 24th April 2010, 17:12   #11
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Thanks arun.no new puntos on tbhp for quite some time now,and all of a sudden you got 3!

@sujith we actually did not sell our padmini,passed it on to a relative who gave it away to a garage recently.still have fond memories of car!Actually its the first car i drove sitting on my drivers lap on an empty road during schoolyears!

Last edited by bblost : 23rd August 2010 at 09:18. Reason: back 2 back post. Please use edit post if posting within 20 mins. Thanks.
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Old 24th April 2010, 17:20   #12
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Brother,Congrats for your Whitebird ,
Thank you for Sharing your Impressions.
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Old 24th April 2010, 17:44   #13
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Congrats Aditya, the car looks too elegant, wish you a safe driving & many miles on it, she is a beauty!
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Old 24th April 2010, 19:15   #14
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Can you solve this puzzle - if the car was driven 40 kms from KVR Kannur (presumably to your home), you are not at Calicut - you are somewhere around Vatakara.

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Old 24th April 2010, 19:49   #15
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Congrats for the stunning white Punto. Nicely penned down car search. Although you seem to be more smitten with the Fiesta.
Wishing you happy miles with the Fiat.
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