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Old 20th July 2009, 02:22   #721
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Default Punto 1.3 MJD & 1.4 FIRE tested

It is a good thing that I drove the cars back to back, gave me a perspective on how each performed individually. So I was reasonably happy with the Punto 1.2, went on to check out the MJD next. A lot has been said, cars have been bought on the forum, and the owners themselves are giving the best feedback possible on their cars. Here is my view.

The MJD -

As expected, the waiting list for a TD of the MJD was pretty long, and the car itself had taken a lot of abuse. It had undergone a bad shunt on the rear right side door already.

First up, the noise. Alright, I am a petrol head and maybe I cant stand the clatter of a diesel. But hey, this engine was supposed to just the answer to that. It was supposed to be quiet, well as quiet as a diesel can get. Where is the refinement? Asked this very question to the Punto's Product Development Mgr during the Punto launch and he had absolutely no answer to that as well. The Swift D came along, I drove it extensively, loved it to bits. Thought the future Fiats will be better. Disappointment.

Coming to the drive, I think the car is very driveable and it picks up pace in higher gears from very low rpms. Its definitely better than the Swift on that count. 4th gear, 30 km/h, no problems. The Punto picks up very cleanly. But cross roughly 2-2.2K rpm and the Swift will run away to the horizon, giving you a nice firm shove in the back. You do get a bit of shove in the Punto as well, but its only just. Its better than the Linea though. In gear acceleration in 3rd and 4th gears is good.There was this other thing though, at rpms above 4K, there was a resonating noise from the right side of the dashboard. Though I think I could put in down to the abuse taken by that car. The alignment was off as well, so I could not enjoy the lovely steering and there was a bit of body roll as well. The body roll was more pronounced for some reason on the diesel and it was better in the two petrols.

Once the car settles down to cruising speeds in higher gears, this car starts making more sense. The engine note does not bother much, you can actually enjoy fantastic ride,handling, steering and suspension setup and I think this car will be a good highway cruiser. And you cant argue with the fantastic fuel economy, one of the major reasons for the global popularity of this engine. Overall, the refinement levels have been overlooked and they do spoil the 'premium' pretensions of this otherwise good car.

1.4 FIRE -

When I had test driven the 1.4 Linea, I thought it was a reasonably nice motor, the performance was not sparkling, but i had expected it to be better in GP. And I am not disappointed.

Cont -

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Old 20th July 2009, 10:59   #722
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I had trest-driven 2 different verna crdi (around 30k on the ODO) and observed the same thing.
I thought diesel cars end up like this after a while. All the engine vibrations probably make other parts loose ... my guess totally.

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There was this other thing though, at rpms above 4K, there was a resonating noise from the right side of the dashboard. Though I think I could put in down to the abuse taken by that car.
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Old 20th July 2009, 12:21   #723
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Is the engine's state of tune in Punto 1.4 and Linea 1.4 petrol the same?
I test drive both these cars back to back and found the Linea to be more responsive than the GP.

Or is it due to the fact that the Linea had done around 6K kms and the GP had barely crossed 100 kms.

I also felt the sound deadening of the GP was less as compared to the Linea.
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Old 20th July 2009, 13:48   #724
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Originally Posted by roms View Post
Coming to the drive, I think the car is very driveable and it picks up pace in higher gears from very low rpms. Its definitely better than the Swift on that count. 4th gear, 30 km/h, no problems. The Punto picks up very cleanly. But cross roughly 2-2.2K rpm and the Swift will run away to the horizon, giving you a nice firm shove in the back. You do get a bit of shove in the Punto as well, but its only just. Its better than the Linea though.
I had crossed 8000 Km on my Linea MJD when I test drove Punto MJD. I fire the Linea on almost every opportunity. So, I tried on the Punto MJD. I can clearly say that Punto is slower. But Punto could be fired upto 6K rpm, which is a good range if we need to once in a while.
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Old 21st July 2009, 11:52   #725
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roms View Post
1.4 FIRE -

When I had test driven the 1.4 Linea, I thought it was a reasonably nice motor, the performance was not sparkling, but i had expected it to be better in GP. And I am not disappointed.

Cont -
Where are you roms? On a loooooong TD of 1.4 FIRE?
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Old 21st July 2009, 13:26   #726
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Amazing little beast. I guess, 1.4FIRE would be the better option with Emotion Pk (wider tyres - 195mm). This may affect the mileage a little bit though.
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Old 21st July 2009, 13:37   #727
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Did you also test drive the 1.4 GP?
Let us know in more detail about it.

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Amazing little beast. I guess, 1.4FIRE would be the better option with Emotion Pk (wider tyres - 195mm). This may affect the mileage a little bit though.
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Old 21st July 2009, 15:18   #728
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hiren.mistry View Post
Is the engine's state of tune in Punto 1.4 and Linea 1.4 petrol the same?
I test drive both these cars back to back and found the Linea to be more responsive than the GP.

Or is it due to the fact that the Linea had done around 6K kms and the GP had barely crossed 100 kms.

I also felt the sound deadening of the GP was less as compared to the Linea.
Yes, the two cars share the exact same engine and in the same state of tune.

As for the second part of the question, you answered the same yourelf. I'm sure the brand new engine in the GP would have you felt that it is less responsive. Otherwise, the GP should ideally be quicker than the heavier Linea.

And you guessed it right. The sound deadening is indeed less in comparison to the Linea. This has been confirmed from Fiat.

Quote:
Originally Posted by opendro View Post
I had crossed 8000 Km on my Linea MJD when I test drove Punto MJD. I fire the Linea on almost every opportunity. So, I tried on the Punto MJD. I can clearly say that Punto is slower. But Punto could be fired upto 6K rpm, which is a good range if we need to once in a while.
There is no doubt about the fact that the Linea is faster than the GP, especially once you engage 3rd. What I was referring to in my post was the 'shove in the back' that the Linea misses due to the VGT. Its more linear. But I thought the GP fared better in the 1st & 2nd gears at low revs, whereas the Linea struggles a bit. What do you think? Asking that since I had driven a brand new Linea when it was launched

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gandhi View Post
Where are you roms? On a loooooong TD of 1.4 FIRE?
Oh yes Gandhi, on a really long drive . Actually been quite busy, but will try and put it up tonight.

Last edited by roms : 21st July 2009 at 15:22.
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Old 21st July 2009, 16:07   #729
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roms View Post
Yes, the two cars share the exact same engine and in the same state of tune.

As for the second part of the question, you answered the same yourelf. I'm sure the brand new engine in the GP would have you felt that it is less responsive. Otherwise, the GP should ideally be quicker than the heavier Linea.

And you guessed it right. The sound deadening is indeed less in comparison to the Linea. This has been confirmed from Fiat.
Great! Thanks for the reply.
What abt the cooling efficiency of both these cars? I found that it took quite a while for the cabin to cool down (Same for the i20 as well).

Do people who own the Linea/GP feel the same? Somehow I need the car's AC to be really cool.
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Old 22nd July 2009, 12:42   #730
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Default Cont - Fiat GP 1.4 FIRE Tested

When you refer to an engine note sounding like music, its highly probable that you are referring to the sound of an Italian engine. What a raspy engine note! And its just a puny little 1.4 gasoline engine we are talking here. All these years, I thought the 1.6 engine in the Palio sounded great, but the 1.4 FIRE is even better. The 1.6 sounds the best at around 1.5K – 3K rpm. But the 1.4 starts its Italian symphony at 3K rpm and continues like that till virtually the other extreme of the rev counter. At no point will you feel that the engine note has turned into a whine. Of course, you would have to thank Fiat for that since you get to hear that engine so clearly only because of lesser sound deadening than in the Linea. And therein lies a problem. A premium hatch buyer might not appreciate all that engine noise filtering in the cabin. Infact, someone looking for a quiet cabin will get turned off. I however, would think of calling myself an enthusiast and so I love that music and will want to rev the nuts of that motor just to hear it growl. But does it go as well as it sounds? Lets find out…

Refinement & NVH levels –

This has got to be ‘the’ most refined petrol engine Fiat has got in our country, more so in the Linea. At startup and idle, the 1.4 is supremely refined, even more refined than the ANHC’s 1.5 i-Vtec. But it cant beat the older NHC or the Jazz’s refinement at idle. But as I mentioned earlier, once you rev the motor, the engine is clearly audible in the cabin. So while the engine is smooth and refined throughout, the lack of adequate sound deadening in the Punto takes away a few points in the ‘noise levels’ stakes, especially when the car is being considered by the average Joe. Otherwise, vibration levels are almost nil and absolutely no complaints on that front.

Engine & Performance:-

The specs read pretty well. 1368 CC, Double overhead cam shafts, 16 valves, 90 PS (88bhp@6000) rpm actually sound pretty impressive, though a max torque figure 115NM@ 4500 rpm does not sound too promising. Thankfully, this is a free revving motor and it is very enthusiastic at almost any revs. A dab on the throttle, the engine responds eagerly and the tacho needle jumps frantically to 3K+ rpm.

The thing is, Fiat has very clearly concentrated on city driveability with this engine. So the gearing is pretty short just like the other variants of the Punto in lower gears, so as to enable quicker pick up at city speeds. Hence, inspite of a mediocre torque figure, the engine’s free revving and enthusiastic nature, coupled with the shorter gearing take you very quickly to the peak torque range. Result, the Punto feels quick and agile in the city and provides a stress free drive, even quicker than the 1.6 at times. Of course, out on the highway, the 1.6 would be much better and will be a more relaxed cruiser. I had an absolute blast zipping around and overtaking slower cars with relative ease. At no point does the engine feel underpowered for the car, atleast in city limits. To be frank, the sporty engine note does make you feel that the car is going faster than it actually is. The other good part about the engine is that driveability feels even better than the MJD engined Punto. I had similar views even during the Linea test drive. You don’t require to shift down much and the car picks up pace from ridiculously low speeds in almost all gears without worries.

Cont -
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Old 22nd July 2009, 12:43   #731
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Default Cont - Fiat GP 1.4 FIRE Tested

Autocar mentions that the Punto 1.4 takes 16.58 seconds to the ton from a standstill, no matter how you look at it, that is slow. Unbelievably, Top Gear mentions the same to be 12.5 seconds ! A difference of 4 seconds!! But Autocar does mention that it was a pre-run in car, hence the possibility of the slower timing. Whatever, in the real world the Punto does not feel as slow or as fast as those figures. Autocar also mentioned that in gear acceleration is better than the Swift petrol and I agree to that. The other thing with the Swift is that its 1.3 petrol is peaky in nature, the low end torque is nothing great, while the top end is fantastic and it’s a fun car one you cross roughly 3K rpm. While in the Punto, the acceleration is almost linear throughout the rev-range. So drivers who are used to engines like the ones in the Maruti Swift or the Honda’s i-vtec might find the Punto’s top end relatively flat.

Top Gear also mentions that the tacho needle touches 4000rpm @ 100 km/h and that can adversely affect the fuel efficiency. That I believe is solely due to the short gearing.

Steering/Handling/Suspension & other bits –

Now I wont go about harping about these since enough has been said. I will tell you this though. After I finished driving the three cars, it was finally time to take to the wheel of my S10 and I took the exact same route towards the Worli sea link as I had for the test drives. Suddenly, the Palio starts feeling ponderous and very heavy to drive, the steering wheel does not feel as direct as I thought it was, the car is crashing into potholes that I thought were non-existent during the Punto test drives. Heck, even the car does not feel as quick. And that I think was partly due of the fact that the Palio feels like a bigger and heavier car, and partly because the 1.6 engine in the Palio is not as free revving as the smaller 1.4, so does not build on the revs as quickly. I also could not zip around as much as I could in the Punto. And this has never happened before. Its then that I realized that the Punto 1.4 definitely makes a better city car than my S10 and that the overall dynamics are in a class of their own. The brakes are brilliant in the Punto too.

About the seats –

Both front and rear seats are comfortable, the under thigh support is good too and the back rest for the rear bench in comfortable. But I do feel that Fiat could have pushed the rear seats further back and sacrificed a bit of boot space, liberating more space in the cabin.

To conclude –

Yes, there are iffy plastics in places and the in lower variants of the Punto they do feel somewhat downmarket. It cant match the overall fit and finish of the old Palios. On the Car and Bike show, Siddhart Patankar showed how the glove box on the dash was ill-fitting and it did not close properly. So if Fiat takes feedback and works on its problem areas, namely fit and finish and poor quality checks at the manufacturing level, the Punto will become an even more appealing buy.

I simply loved the 1.4 FIRE engined Punto. It does most of the things right, is very refined and makes a fantastic city car. Don’t know if it will be equally good on the highways though, even if it isn’t, the driving dynamics more than make up for it. The fuel efficiency I think wont be fantastic. The MID displayed an average figure of 7.6 kmpl. But that would be the absolute worst since it was a TD car. For regular commuting I think 10ish in the city and 14-16 kmpl on the highways would be more like it. These figures are only speculative and the true picture can emerge once the owners give their feedback.

The 1.4 FIRE Punto has been adjudged by the Car & Bike show as the best premium petrol hatch on last week’s show. The Fabia is the best diesel according to them.

All in all, the car does have a feel good factor to it and the loaded Emotion Pack at 6.5L on-road Mumbai would be my choice of Punto, in red ofcourse. But it is an enticing buy only because of lack competition at that price. An i20 1.4 around those price levels would have made things even more interesting.

Last edited by roms : 22nd July 2009 at 12:58.
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Old 22nd July 2009, 13:18   #732
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Very goof review there Romil

And I agree - FIRE 1.4 is a good engine though I've Petrol Linea
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Old 22nd July 2009, 13:40   #733
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Experts,

Fiat Palio MJD SDX vs Fiat Punto Active (expensive than SDX by 25K).

what should be the choice?

Of course SDX would give much more convenience options than Punto with same engine.

Just trying to understand, What Punto Active offers that Palio SDX doesn't?
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Old 22nd July 2009, 13:53   #734
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Autocop View Post
Fiat Palio MJD SDX vs Fiat Punto Active (expensive than SDX by 25K).
what should be the choice?
If you are content with Palio's plain interiors, Palio MJD SDX is a good choice!
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Old 22nd July 2009, 14:02   #735
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roms View Post
About the seats –

Both front and rear seats are comfortable, the under thigh support is good too and the back rest for the rear bench in comfortable. But I do feel that Fiat could have pushed the rear seats further back and sacrificed a bit of boot space, liberating more space in the cabin.
Neat and detailed review, Roms. There's a GP on demo today at our office, its the Active version, have booked a TD for the afternoon.

I managed to do some interior checks with respect to the rear seat space, my conclusion is that what Fiat have arrived is the most optimum possible.

If you look closely into the boot, you can see that there is still some space between where the seat stops and the actual boot starts (about 1-1.5 inches). Theoretically it is possible to push the seat till that point, but that would leave the seat backrest too upright and anyway spoil the comfort.

We then looked at what could be done to adjust the backrest, but that is hampered by the hard points on the monocoque since currently the backrest is almost resting on the rear struts.

Did you also notice that the front seat rails seem to be of different lengths ? The one near the door is shorter and the one near the transmission tunnel is longer and the front seat actually moves beyond point where the shorter rail ends!

This is not a car for a family with a tall driver
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