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Old 11th January 2012, 13:38   #1
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Talking A new year, a new car - my BNW Fiat Punto 1.3 MJD EP+

I have been maintaining notes on my car buying experience, and was waiting for the car to be delivered before publishing this thread. It has come out a lot longer than I thought but then, it covers 4 months of my life. I have attempted to describe events in a chronological order. Here goes....

The FIAT Palio 1.2 ELX has been in the family for 10 years now and I have been driving it for the last 4. I had no thoughts about upgrading to a new car. My car has aged very well and I think it's good to go for another decade - no squeaks and rattles, exterior finish is still glossy and no engine problems whatsoever. Colleagues at work and fellow customers at service stations always assume that the car is 5-6 years old at the most.

A photo of my Palio on a picnic to Kokkarebelur...

A new year, a new car - my BNW Fiat Punto 1.3 MJD EP+-p1010604.jpg

However my dad's retiring this year-end and that means goodbye to the office car. He is quite comfortable with the Palio and so, rather than having him buy a new car, we decided to move the Palio back to Hyderabad. And that started the search for a new car for me. While the thought process started almost a year back, there has been very little follow-up action. The action has been restricted to taking multiple test drives of the Punto 90 HP (my dream vehicle), i20 CRDI (to understand why it is priced the way it is), the Nano (thanks to a very persistent salesman) and more recently, the Jazz. Besides these, I have been reading lots of threads on T-BHP obsessively and getting progressively confused with every new car launch. So it was that I considered every car from i10 Kappa and Ritz to Vento and Safari. Considering the range of segments I have straddled, I think my confusion is clear for all to see. However most of this was idle speculation with no concrete view to owning any of these machines, until the retirement became imminent.

Understanding the need for decisive action, we (my wife and I) decided to swing into action. A couple of years back, before we got married, I had raved about the Punto to my then wife-to-be. So when we started this process, my wife suggested that we start with the Punto. The only point of contention was the price. It would be a stretch, but we decided to cross that bridge when we got there. An initial budget of 6-7 Lakhs was allocated to purchase a car. This figure kept varying through out the buying process with me trying to raise it to 8, and my wife trying to lower this to 5 (Mr.Impractical vs Ms.Practical). So the budget yo-yo-ed between 5-8 lakhs as per the prevailing mood of the day.

I then decided to list what I wanted in a car (the must-haves and the nice-to-haves), list out the qualifiers, check which of these meet the budgetary considerations, and then finalize the decision after due diligence (TDs, offers, etc). Seemed like a straightforward process. But looks can be deceiving.

After discussing with my wife, the list of must-haves...
  1. Full safety kit - ABS, airbags, et al. This was non-negotiable since an acquaintance perished in a car accident. The death would have been avoided if airbags had been available on his Alto. Ironical, considering that I have been driving my current car for almost 4 years without any safety feature except seat belts.
  2. Good interiors - My thinking is that since I will be the person sitting inside all the time, the interiors should look good. I am not asking for 007 type gadgets, just the feeling of having spent my 7's and 0's (700000) well.
  3. Good handling & comfortable ride - This is a legacy of having got used to the Palio.
  4. A.S.S - I generally have never had the time to pay multiple visits to service stations. I have been lucky that the FIAT A.S.S has been pretty good in Bangalore, and it's located near my office.
Over and above these factors, I had decided that the car would be a hatch only. About 90% of the usage will have only me in the car, since my wife's office is walkable from home. The only time that she is in the car for any considerable time is the weekend. So there was not much sense in looking for a car with a spacious rear seat, nor with a huge boot. The only regular occupant of my rear seat is my laptop bag. And only my spare wheel, tool kit, gym bag and badminton kit can claim to have had an intimate relationship with my car's boot. Also, I felt a hatch would be easier to maneuver through the sublime Bangalore traffic where obeying any traffic rules are generally considered a form of heresy.

Nice-to-haves...
  1. Decent mileage - I am not looking to get a 15+ kmpl all the time. Nor am I looking at 9 kmpl. For me, decent means 12-13 kmpl.
  2. ICE - I'd rather have a decent stock ICE than going for an upgrade later. I am not in the habit of pumping up the volume. Music is more like ambient background noise to me while driving.
  3. Bluetooth - Since I have con-calls at all times of the day, I would like the bluetooth in the stock option. Else, I'll just continue with the earphone. FIAT's Blue & Me would be my dream as far as this aspect is concerned.
  4. Fuel type - My monthly running is expected to be 1000 kms at the most, with regular road trips. So petrol is fine with me, even though the recent hikes have dimmed my enthusiasm for a petrol car. If there are some good diesels available in my budget with the required features, I am open to testing them out. But not really a deal breaker for me.
Other factors...
  • Most of my driving will be within the city, with a daily running of about 25-30 kms. Monthly road trips are expected. It will be a self-driven car.
  • My experience with my FIAT Palio has been excellent. I have no cause to complain. So even though I saw a lot of bellyaching about FIAT on the forum, it would remain my first choice.
Keeping the budget and requirements in mind, the car buying process was kicked off in August. The cars considered (seriously, and not merely as flights of fancy):

FIAT GP 1.3 (75 HP) - Once you own a FIAT, it remains your first choice. So it was that this was the first car I TD-ed. The car looked great and handled like a dream. I was right at home in this vehicle. A lot has been written about this car and I will confirm some of the same. The stance was great, mileage looked good and it was a diesel. The Blue & Me on the E Pack variant was a great utility feature. This was the car that packed in the maximum features for the price - ABS, SRS, beautiful alloys, ACC, large-section wheels, leather-wrapped steering wheel, etc. I prefer a black themed interior, as compared to black and beige one. I actually had no complaints with the Punto interiors. The TD car was in very good shape with no broken handles and parts (like some others have reported). Going by this and my experience with Palio, it looked like this car will age graciously. The car handled turns better than my Palio. I took a few gentle curves at 70-80 kmph and there was absolutely no body roll. The Punto checked most of my boxes, and my wife was completely sold on the looks and ride quality. This was one car where she was fine with stretching the budget.

However, the following points didn't get me excited enough to book it right away:
  • The quality of the interior plastics was average. I liked the understated black and grey combo. I have grown used to the Palio's bland interiors, but I was looking for an upgrade.
  • The turning radius seemed pretty huge, even though I took U-turns on the Kundalahalli road without any fuss. Considering the number of U-turns I make in a day (thanks to Bangalore's one-ways, and metro constructions), this was something to think about.
  • Loooonnng clutch travel, way longer than in my Palio.
I decided that I would book this car if the budget was approved, and I didn't find any other car that met enough of my criteria.

FIAT GP 1.3 (90 HP) - This was a bit of a let down. I didn't find this car to be appreciably different from the 75 HP vehicle. It had a little less turbo lag, but that was all. So I didn't really think it to be worth the 40K difference. And I really hated the chrome on the door handles. Plus the OTR for this car crossed the psychological 8L mark (by a few thousands). Getting my wife to agree to this would be almost impossible. I consoled myself that if I buy the 75 HP version and put in a racing chip, I can almost touch 100 HP anyway. All these negatives didn't stop me from TD-ing it 3 times though

VW Polo (1.6) - I was really looking forward to trying this car, especially after the ownership reviews I read on the forum. To me, this seemed to be the ideal mix of my dreams - mating a hatch with a high powered engine. I day dreamed about setting the roads to my office on fire with my Polo 1.6. However, the first bouncer was thrown by the VW dealership. I called up Downtown VW on Magrath Road and asked for a TD of the Polo 1.6 or the Vento Petrol (in case the Polo 1.6 was unavailable). The SA told me that he was fasting and would I mind waiting till the end of Ramzaan! I was a little disconcerted. This was the first I was hearing of a customer being made to wait for a festival to finish. However, I accepted and set up the TD date for the first day after Ramzaan. No sign of the TD car even on Dussehera. In the meantime, the government threw another bouncer. After the petrol price hikes, the cost of ownership seemed way too high. Assuming a mileage of 9 kmpl and petrol price in Bangalore being INR 75 per litre, the per km cost comes to INR 8.33. Like its peppermint namesake, this seemed the car with a hole (in my pocket). Compared to the rest of the cars in my list, this seemed infeasible. While the heart lusted for this Teutonic beauty, the head made its objections know with great vehemence. So it was good bye Polo.
P.S - I finally got a call back in end-December when this thread was going to the press.

Honda Jazz - This came to my attention after I read about the price cut on T-BHP. The very next weekend found me at Whitefield Honda. I had read that this was the best hatch in the business, let down only by its asking price. At 9 L OTR, this wouldn't have entered my calculations. But now at 7 L OTR (for the Jazz Select), this seemed a very viable option. It demanded a visit to Whitefield Honda. I guess I wasn't the only one thinking on these lines, as the showroom was choc-a-bloc with people and parking was full. I managed to find a street parking, and we traipsed into the showroom. We sat in one of the display cars, and the first thing that hit me was the space and overall airiness of this hatch. The interiors were impeachable, and the gear shift was good (though not butter smooth). The finance guy doubled up as salesman since the sales staff was busy, and he showed us the magic seat configurations. Though impressive, they would not be of great use to me. However, I liked the fact that the guys were so eager to sell. The sales guy showed up in about 5 minutes, and I asked for a TD right then. My takeaways from the short TD:
  • The TD car was 2 years old, but not a squeak or rattle. I liked that.
  • AC was good. Cooled the car within a couple of minutes after the car had been standing out in the sun for the last 30 minutes.
  • The driving position was spot-on as far as I was concerned. I wanted to keep driving this baby.
  • Light steering was a change from what I have experienced in the Palio. I am unsure whether I like it or not.
  • Low-end torque left much to be desired. This was not going to win any performance contests. However, my driving style is generally sedate (except when I am late for a meeting).
  • I drove over a section of unpaved and broken road. Also went over a section where the under-construction road joined a main road. This involved a large hump and lots of rubble. The Jazz took these without scraping, and without bottoming out. Prior to the TD, I was very apprehensive about the suspension and ride quality (as compared to the Palio and Punto). While it still wouldn't stand up to a Punto, it was not a deal breaker.
  • The clutch was a little strange. When depressing the clutch fully, it felt like there was some kind of obstruction under my mid-sole. I couldn't decide whether there was a piece of carpet that was causing this, or some kind of ergonomic issue.
While first impressions were generally favorable, the downsides that I could see:
  • The running cost - Honda parts are generally expensive and I wasn't sure if this was going to become a white elephant to maintain. I checked the standard servicing costs and these seemed reasonably low (~ 3K per servicing).
  • Cost per km would be much higher than the Punto, owing to the Petrol engine.
  • Unsure delivery time - the salesman said it could take anywhere between 2-4 months.
  • Since the Brio was going to be launched soon, I decided to wait until I TD that too.
So I couldn't come to a final decision, but this seemed a likely contender for my money. My wife like this one too but was hesitant on account of the high maintenance costs.

Maruti Swift (Petrol/Diesel) - This was discarded without a TD. Knowing how many Swift fans there are on this forum, a lot of the readers might find my decision inexplicable. Let me try to explain the logic behind my decision.
  • The best thing my neighbour ever did was to buy the new Swift ZDI. It is parked right next to my car. I have always been a fan of Palio's clean lines but have had an issue with its wide butt. After seeing the Swift's butt, I can only wonder what I was complaining about. Lets leave it at that. I am sure the Swift is a very capable car, but the looks more of less decided me.
  • The OTR for Swift ZXI is 6.8 L in Bangalore. Jazz Select is 7.06 L OTR. I am considering only the ZXI given that the ABS and SRS is available only in this variant. Given a choice between a Suzuki and a Honda (with comparable features and comparable price), I'll go with the Honda any day. Call me a snob, but I contend that overall quality of the Jazz far exceeds that of a Swift. Maybe a lot of you will crucify me, but I hope some of you will agree.
Maruti Ritz (Petrol/Diesel) - Pratham Motors opened a stall adjacent to my office for a promotional event. I walked up to them and asked for a TD. They did not have a TD vehicle right away but promised to have one by 4 PM the same day. They were better than their work and had the car ready by 2 PM. The TD went well. I really liked the engine but the VDI (with ABS) version was just too basic. No stereo, no steering controls, etc. Most importantly, no airbags. The other issue was that I was used to the feeling of safety inside my Palio, and wasn't quite ready to compromise unless absolutely necessary. In comparison, the Ritz's build quality seems flimsy. This is my personal opinion, no offense meant to existing and prospective Maruti buyers. Also, there was the question of that strange rear-end. It's not exactly plug ugly, but it's not very pleasing either. I meant to ask the SA for a TD of the ZXI version which has most of the creature comforts I expected. However, I did not go ahead with it for the reasons I have mentioned previously.

i20 (Petrol) - The Asta version is well-equipped with features and gadgets, but was pretty underpowered. I was also a little worried about the low GC given the massive humps in Bangalore. Two Hyundai owners told me that the maintenance is pretty high for Hyundai cars. I wonder if this is more about specific dealers or the manufacturers. After reading the threads about the mystery steering rattles on this forum, I wasn't ready to plonk down good money on this car.

Chevrolet Beat - My wife was attracted to the Chevy Beat. After the Diesel version was launched, I considered it for a time. However, the feedback from existing users about the after sales service was not very positive. This may or may not be true. My wife opined that it would probably be a better fit for here than for me. So we left this TD pending.

In the meantime, I approached the manager of a major Honda dealer (through acquaintances) to check whether the waiting period for the Jazz could be reduced. The answer shocked me. I was told that if I pay 25K, I can get the car within a week. Basically, this was a bribe. I declined and in the meantime, put this info on T-BHP.

A couple of months passed. During this time, we collected the funds to make the down-payment on the car. Petrol prices were raised yet again and this made me partial to diesel cars: RIP Petrol, Viva Diesel. I checked the Diwali offers, but didn't even visit a dealer at this time since my wife was out of town for most of October. It was now November, and I was itching to buy a car. Since it was the year-end, preceded by a lousy Diwali (for car manufacturers), I hoped to get a decent offer on the car of my choice.

Honda Brio - We again visited Whitefield Honda since I wanted to check out Brio (even though it was a petrol). We had a look but both my wife and me said 'No' the moment we saw it up close. I don't know if it's just me, but the rear reminded me of Mickey Mouse!! Strange, but true.

I wanted to have a look at Jazz again in an effort to convince myself about Petrol cars. I had quite liked the Jazz and wanted to see it again before writing it off completely. The shocker was that they didn't even have a Jazz on display!! The salesman told us that the waiting period had exceeded 10 months and they had stopped taking bookings for the Jazz. Pity! If I could have sat in the car one more time, I may have convinced myself to overlook the petrol prices, wait 10 months and buy a Jazz. Now Jazz dropped of the list completely. So both Hondas were off the list now.

So this is how the situation stood at this point:
  1. Swift and Ritz were off the list as far as I was concerned.
  2. My wife is vehemently anti-Ford since her family has had multiple after sales issues with the Ford Fiestas. So Figo wasn't high on her list. I thought Figo was a good city car, but not really suited for highways. Interior space is pretty good, but this was not a major requirement as far as I was concerned.
  3. Honda Jazz and Honda Brio were off the list.
Considering the features that were available in the Punto and my own experience with FIAT, it looked like a new generation FIAT would be replacing our older FIAT. The wheel had come full circle - I started with the Punto as my top choice, then considered various other cars, and came back to Punto.

So mid-November, we returned to KHT Motors (Kundalahalli) for another TD. Like most other TATA-FIAT showrooms, this has TATA cars spread all around with the FIAT cars hidden among them. The FIAT SA, Sandesh, attended to us within a few minutes of our walking in. I saw quite a lot of interest in the FIAT vehicles. I TD-ed the 90 HP and 75 HP versions again. While waiting, I questioned him about the sales for Linea and Punto. He told me that the target is 10 (per month) for Linea and 20 for Punto, and that they are exceeding these numbers. This didn't quite gel with the monthly sales numbers for these cars, but further questioning would probably not get me anywhere. Another piece of info the SA gave me was that most of the Punto bookings are for the Dynamic variant since most buyers did not feel the need for safety packages. Sad to see that the current buyers still do not appreciate ABS and SRS (airbags, pre-tensioners, etc). The SA asked for my color preference and was relieved when I said BNW. Apparently, as it is year-end, FIAT is manufacturing only 2 shades (BNW and Tuscan Wine) and these are available for ready delivery. Any other color would take some time to get. This was news to me!!

Besides the standard accessories (OEM mats, mudflaps, perfume, idol), KHT offered a total cash discount of 12K (7K as corporate discount). I have also asked for Punto monogrammed scuff pads for the doors. I refused the 'free' sunfilm when I heard that it is Garware film. I decided to get 3M RE32 attached outside. I also explained that my preference is for the Apollo Accelere tyres, rather than JK or Goodyears.

I checked with Prerana Motors (Sarjapur) also. The pricing and deals are almost similar. But the overall experience with KHT Motors was far more pleasant. Concorde is rather far from my residence and I haven't visited them.

In December, we finally decided to go ahead with the booking. In Novemeber, the diesel Punto had a cash discount of 10K. This had fallen to 5K in December. In the meantime, the petrol Punto was selling at a discount of 75K in December! I had a moment of indecision and checked whether it would make sense to buy the 1.4 FIRE EP+ instead and then decided against it. Petrol is very quickly becoming a rich man's fuel. Just as I was getting ready to call up KHT Motors, I saw a thread in T-BHP that mentioned the new Punto 2012 being launched on 3rd Jan. So I researched this as much as possible. The unanimous opinion was that there would be no changes to the innards. Only outer body tweaks, maybe a refreshed beige interior and increased GC would be the new 'features'. I had no problem with the way the current version looked, and I prefer a black interior to a beige one. The current GC is sufficient to get over everything that Bangalore can throw at it. Overall it looked like an excuse to increase the prices. So we decided that there was not much sense to waiting for January and went ahead with the booking (In hindsight, this turned out to be a wise decision. When I went to do the PDI for my car on 2nd Jan, I saw a 2012 Punto demo carparked in the stockyard. It was unlocked and the SA agreed to let me peek inside. Nothing had changed inside other than a new sear cover pattern. The exterior looked exactly the same.)

The SA collected the booking amount from me. The loan was arranged with HDFC bank. Formalities were completed within a week with both the dealer and the bank being very helpful throughout. In the meantime, the SA told me that a car is available in the stockyard with Goodyear tyres. After asking around on the forum, I was told that the Goodyear GT3s leave much to be desired. Also, AFAIK FIAT stopped using Goodyear tyres a few months back. So I asked the SA to send me the VIN as I suspected this was a pretty old car. Sure enough, the car was manufactured in March 2011. I asked the SA to look for another piece. A couple of days later, the SA told me that a car with Apollo tyres was available and he had blocked it for me.

Fellow T-BHPian sajands accompanied us to the stockyard for a first look. My regular SA, Sandesh was on vacation. So another SA came with us to the stockyard. The car had not been washed and no PDI had been done yet. We checked the car for rust and didn't find anything out of the ordinary. The door and top beading was not properly aligned, and there was a scratch on the front bumper (about 0.5 cms). We pointed these out to the SA who promised to correct these during the PDI. We also found that they had started putting sunfilm on the side windows. I asked them to remove it in case this car is to be handed to me. The VIN showed that this car was manufactured in September 2011. Much better!

My first look at my new companion....

A new year, a new car - my BNW Fiat Punto 1.3 MJD EP+-img_0252.jpg

I made the balance payments and asked for the car to be registered in January 2012. So Monday (2nd Jan 2012) was fixed as the date when the new member of my family would be presented to me prior to registration. So for me, 2nd Jan seemed to be the start of the new year for me, rather than 1st Jan The SA called me on 1st Jan and requested me to come down to the showroom to sign the form 20 and submit the passport sized photographs. I managed to do this only by noon of 2nd Jan and by then it was too late to be registered. I asked to see the car post the changes I had mentioned. On reaching the stockyard, we found that they had not bothered to even wash the car since it was not going to be registered that day. But it was the first time I got to see the interior of the car. Also, in a way it was a good thing as I went over all the points with my regular SA. I pointed out a couple of places where the beading had to be corrected, as well as the scratch. He brought the workshop guys to note these things down. The plastics on the driver's seat was loose and almost coming off. So this was one more item to be looked into. On starting, the engine note was pretty rough. I guess it will smoothen out once I start driving it. I checked the engine notes of 2 other cars that were being readied for PDI. The sound was the same. The odometer read 0! This has me a little worried about whether this car had had its odometer disconnected and used as a test mule. I opened the bonnet and looked into the engine bay. I didn't see any dust or signs of wear and tear. The rough engine note also seemed to indicate that the car had not been driven around. Making an appointment to be back on the morning of 3rd Jan to inspect the car pre-registration and to check the details filled into the form 20, I left.

I was at the showroom at 9 45 AM on 3rd Jan to see the vehicle post operation. The scratch had vanished and the seat was fine. I felt there was still some play in the height adjustment lever. But when I sat and tested it, there was no problem. If that is the case, I think this could have been implemented better. The beading had improved marginally, but did not satisfy me. Fortunately the issues are on the inner lining of the rear doors which will be used rarely. I noticed some amount of surface rust on the wheels. I asked the SA to treat this with WD40 (as suggested by fellow member sajands). In case that doesn't happen, I'll buy a bottle myself and spray it on. I could not check the Form 20 as that was at the service center. The SA promised to have the car ready by 4 PM on 4th Jan.

The SA made good on his word. And here I would like to make a commendation - the entire sales staff was in a monthly meeting. When I called the SA in the morning (after a night spent dreaming about the white beauty), there was no reply. A couple of minutes later the SA sent an SMS explaining the situation, and confirming that the car would be ready by 4 PM or earlier. Through the day, we conversed by SMS before he called me at 3 PM to tell me that the car was ready. At no time was I left in the dark about what was happening. That really helped calm my nerves. However the fact remains that the FIAT sales experience is very uneven. I have had a pretty good sales experience with all the FIAT dealers in Bangalore. A colleague I coaxed into TD-ing Punto (he had finalized the Figo) had a bad experience. Prerana and Concorde did not even pick up the phone. KHT motors promised him a TD. When he visited the showroom at the appointed time, the FIAT sales folks told him that a 'senior' person had taken the Punto TD vehicle home!!!! Needless to say, he booked the Figo.

Coming back to the delivery, I went alone for the pick-up as my wife was caught up in meetings. I reached the showroom at 3 45 PM and found the car being given the final touches - wipe, ribbon, door sills, etc. The SA was finishing up with another customer and I took the chance to click a few photographs and checking that all was well. It seemed to be in fine fettle.

All cleaned up and waiting....

A new year, a new car - my BNW Fiat Punto 1.3 MJD EP+-p1040937.jpg

I left the wash-boy to clean up in peace and poked around a 2012 Punto that was parked beside my car. The SA and the sales manager then walked me thru the documents (invoice, RTO receipt, insurance policy, manual, etc) plus details like service interval, electronic codes, process for duplicate keys (if needed), etc. Everything was packed into a bag, along with a welcome kit (chocolates, car deo, ganesh idol). Finally the desmodronic key and the duplicate were presented to me. Then the SA walked me thru the features of the car, especially what the various buttons were for. The layout seemed pretty logical except for the inverted stalks for lights and wipers. I set whatever settings were needed, and then posed for the photographs. The ribbon had been attached and the 'Punto' marked door sills attached. The car was now ready to go and I had some major butterflies in my stomach. I thanked the SA, tipped the wash-boy and started the engine!

I got the car out of the showroom after stalling it twice, then took a couple of U-turns to get to the petrol pump for the free diesel (provided by the dealer) and to fill up the tank. Once this was done, another U-turn and I was homebound. Three U-turns within 10 mins of getting a car that is not famed for its turning radius - it cured me of any fears of taking U-turns with the Punto. I didn't have a problem even once. Still, I was pretty nervous. So I parked the car to the side, switched on the radio, put up the windows and set the ACC for 20 degrees C. I waited a couple of minutes for my palms to dry up. Then I told myself that I have been driving for 12 years and if I could drive a Premier Padmini at 18, I could drive a Punto at 30! Just breathe.....and drive! So I took some time to reach my ideal driving position and then started off again. After stalling at a couple of signals, I reached home without any drama. This was partly because I followed a BMW X1 that looked like it was also being driven for the first time. So I let the BMW clear the way for me, and I followed at a prudent distance.

I had my iphone mated to the Blue&Me in a minute and my address book synced. No fuss at all. I spent a merry 10 mins calling my wife and then my dad from the car in the parking lot.

Feedback after 300 kms in 5 days:

All of the driving has been in city traffic at peak hours with 100% AC (including one tiring stretch of 40 kms in bumper to bumper traffic). Except for the first day, I haven't stalled the car even once. In fact, the surprise was that after 24 hours the clutch didn't seem overly long!

The positives:
  1. Head turning looks (even now!)
  2. Handling is superb as ever
  3. NVH levels are really low for a diesel
  4. Great insulation from outside noise
  5. Blue & Me
  6. Competent AC
  7. Loud horn
  8. Overall, the interiors are a lot better than what I was expecting (after reading the comments in this forum) - no loose or flimsy parts yet
The negatives:
  1. Lack of outright performance - this car is not mean for those short sprints to make the lights
  2. I need to take care while going over speed breakers - unless I really slow down, I hear a muted bang from the left rear corner. I have read other buyers complaining about the same.
  3. The leather covered steering wheel leaves nu palms sweaty.
  4. Position of the USB drive could have been more user friendly.
  5. One strange thing while listening to music from the USB - If I press the horn for a few seconds, the radio comes back on for a couple of seconds and then it reverts back to the USB.
One other thing to mention - I generally listen to music at pretty low volumes. For my listening criteria, the sound system seems very competent. I have no complaints about it.

The FE over the first couple of days did not exceed 10 kmpl (as per the MID). This was probably because I was downshifting more often than necessary (being overly cautious about driving a diesel car for the first time). I adjusted my driving style and discovered that the car can handle almost all streets at 3rd and 4th gears, with the 2nd coming in for bumper kissing times. I haven't had many chances of reaching the 5th gear on my routes. The 1st gear is strictly for getting off a stand-still, and only for the first couple of yards.

I reset the trip meter, and over the last 200 kms I have recorded an FE of 12-13 kmpl. The shocker is that average speed is 18 kmph! Bangalore traffic, what more can I say.

I try not to exceed 2500 rpm at any time, and don't plan to exceed 100 kmph for the first 500 kms atleast. Gurus, please advise on the run-in tactics.

I have a couple of long drives lined up and looking to reach the 5K mark long before the stipulated 6 months (for the 1st service).

I will update the thread with more photographs. All the rest exceed the size limits, so will have to snap a few with lower resolution.

OT - I got the RC book yesterday. The wonder of it! Everything - my name, wife's name, address, Chassis Number, Engine Number - all correct. Considering that my name has 20+ alphabets in it, this was no mean feat.
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Old 11th January 2012, 13:58   #2
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Default Re: A new year, a new car - my BNW Punto 1.3 MJD EP+

Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Test Drive & Initial Ownership Reports Section. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 11th January 2012, 14:01   #3
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Thumbs up Re: A new year, a new car - my BNW Punto 1.3 MJD EP+

Very detailed writeup there!

Let me be the first one to congratulate you on your FGP. Wish you lakhs of trouble free miles on your new acquisition.

Cheers!
Irish

Last edited by Irish : 11th January 2012 at 14:03.
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Old 11th January 2012, 14:08   #4
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Default Re: A new year, a new car - my BNW Punto 1.3 MJD EP+

Congratulations on the new Punto, thats a lovely color. Do post some more pictures of the beauty, just one picture isn't doing justice with it. May your punto serve you for many many miles and years.

PS: The usb horn combo problem is unique never came to know from various punto owners. Do get it checked, i suspect some cross connection of wires.

Last edited by mayankjha1806 : 11th January 2012 at 14:10.
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Old 11th January 2012, 14:23   #5
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Default Re: A new year, a new car - my BNW Punto 1.3 MJD EP+

What a brilliantly detailed write-up. First off, congratulations on a superb buy. Second, wonderful to see such a spic and span old Palio. Certainly a gem of a car, no engine problems or squeaks after a decade!

Thanks again for the super informative comparison and summary of all those hatches, I was mildly amused with the Brio's comparison with mickey, I haven't noticed that similarity myself.

I test drove the Punto 1.3 before buying my Palio 1.3 MJD, and it was certainly a fun car, but I felt it to be a tad bit underpowered. I supposed fiat's legendary sturdy build quality requires a slightly more powerful engine to make it feel downright commanding. Still, no doubt a wonderful purchase and addition to the fiat family.

Good luck and happy driving
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Old 11th January 2012, 14:25   #6
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Default Re: A new year, a new car - my BNW Punto 1.3 MJD EP+

Congrats! That's a superb looking car! What a nice way to welcome the new year

As you have said, people have mixed experiences with Fiat ranging from worse to bad to good to excellent. Actually the car was never a problem, in fact it is still not a problem. The after sales is the problem.

Quote:
Once you own a FIAT, it remains your first choice.
This is very much the sentiment in all the FIAT threads

One of the best looking hatch backs today. Never feels aged. Enjoy and more pics are required soon in this thread!
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Old 11th January 2012, 14:47   #7
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Default Re: A new year, a new car - my BNW Punto 1.3 MJD EP+

Congratulation for your dream buy. Welcome to the FIAT club , and we will have a lot to discuss about them.
The low GC is the only problem i feel in the punto however this has been rectified in the 2012 models, I always try be at 20 KMPH or below when passing over speed breakers else the long nose would surely kiss the road.
The performance is very adequate if not a rocket but I feel one doesn't need a turbo boost while driving in a city its rather difficult to manage the extra momentum when you break almost every blink of eye.

Wish you a lot of happy miles on your punto.
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Old 11th January 2012, 15:00   #8
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Default Re: A new year, a new car - my BNW Punto 1.3 MJD EP+

Quote:
Let me be the first one to congratulate you on your FGP. Wish you lakhs of trouble free miles on your new acquisition.
Thanks Irish And that also makes you the first reader of my first thread!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mayankjha1806 View Post
Congratulations on the new Punto, thats a lovely color. Do post some more pictures of the beauty, just one picture isn't doing justice with it. May your punto serve you for many many miles and years.

PS: The usb horn combo problem is unique never came to know from various punto owners. Do get it checked, i suspect some cross connection of wires.
Quote:
One of the best looking hatch backs today. Never feels aged. Enjoy and more pics are required soon in this thread!
Yes, the pics are sorely required. I plan to click a set tomorrow morning after the wife's left. She has been teasing me that I look for any excuse to stay in the car park, so don't want to add to her ammunition. But completely true that I'd rather have my cuppa in the car park drooling at my car than in the drawing room

And yes mayankjha1806, plan to bring up the USB issue in the first servicing.

Quote:
First off, congratulations on a superb buy. Second, wonderful to see such a spic and span old Palio. Certainly a gem of a car, no engine problems or squeaks after a decade!
Thanks ByDesign. The Palio has really served me well. And I really hated to see it leave. In fact I spent the morning of 6th Jan hand-holding it through the servicing (in preparation for the Hyderabad drive). I really believe it is good to go for atleast another 10 years.

Quote:
I test drove the Punto 1.3 before buying my Palio 1.3 MJD, and it was certainly a fun car, but I felt it to be a tad bit underpowered. I supposed fiat's legendary sturdy build quality requires a slightly more powerful engine to make it feel downright commanding.
Agree completely, but not too much of a problem given my sedate driving style. However I am very seriously considering plonking a Spyder box into the Punto and let rip. That will take some time though.
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Old 11th January 2012, 16:48   #9
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Default Re: A new year, a new car - my BNW Punto 1.3 MJD EP+

Excellent writeup there after long time. I read thru your review with great interest.

I echo most of your view points and went through the same while buying the car. Only difference is that I ended up with a i20! What was your final OTR price?

Wishing you many more happy miles with the beauty. Post more and more pictures. Its never tiring to see a Punto. And get TBHP stickers, they go very well on the Punto!
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Old 11th January 2012, 18:49   #10
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Default Re: A new year, a new car - my BNW Punto 1.3 MJD EP+

Very well written there DeepChat. There is this connect which Fiat's have with the driver that is missing with the other cars however better or worse they maybe. Have a good time with your Punto, i'm sure she won't let you down.

I honestly thought they would bring in the new gearbox for the 2012 Punto, but Fiat had their own plans. (Do they even have a plan ??)
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Old 12th January 2012, 00:07   #11
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Default Re: A new year, a new car - my BNW Punto 1.3 MJD EP+

Excellent writeup Deepanjan sir, Well, like everyone else are saying, please post more pics of miss. snow white

Nice to know the RC book was a breeze with no issues. Well, now its time to hit the travelogues and pimp the punto into a arbath with a bhp sticker.

Get the wires checked as i guess its a wiring issue as soon as possible. Get a good polish kit to keep her clean all the time.

Wishing you great happy miles and do wear seat belts.

-Sajan
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Old 12th January 2012, 08:30   #12
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Default Re: A new year, a new car - my BNW Punto 1.3 MJD EP+

Quote:
Originally Posted by DeepChat View Post
...

Feedback after 300 kms in 5 days:

All of the driving has been in city traffic at peak hours with 100% AC (including one tiring stretch of 40 kms in bumper to bumper traffic). Except for the first day, I haven't stalled the car even once. In fact, the surprise was that after 24 hours the clutch didn't seem overly long!

The positives:
  1. Head turning looks (even now!)
  2. Handling is superb as ever
  3. NVH levels are really low for a diesel
  4. Great insulation from outside noise
  5. Blue & Me
  6. Competent AC
  7. Loud horn
  8. Overall, the interiors are a lot better than what I was expecting (after reading the comments in this forum) - no loose or flimsy parts yet
The negatives:
  1. Lack of outright performance - this car is not mean for those short sprints to make the lights
  2. I need to take care while going over speed breakers - unless I really slow down, I hear a muted bang from the left rear corner. I have read other buyers complaining about the same.
  3. The leather covered steering wheel leaves nu palms sweaty.
  4. Position of the USB drive could have been more user friendly.
  5. One strange thing while listening to music from the USB - If I press the horn for a few seconds, the radio comes back on for a couple of seconds and then it reverts back to the USB.
One other thing to mention - I generally listen to music at pretty low volumes. For my listening criteria, the sound system seems very competent. I have no complaints about it.

The FE over the first couple of days did not exceed 10 kmpl (as per the MID). This was probably because I was downshifting more often than necessary (being overly cautious about driving a diesel car for the first time). I adjusted my driving style and discovered that the car can handle almost all streets at 3rd and 4th gears, with the 2nd coming in for bumper kissing times. I haven't had many chances of reaching the 5th gear on my routes. The 1st gear is strictly for getting off a stand-still, and only for the first couple of yards.

I reset the trip meter, and over the last 200 kms I have recorded an FE of 12-13 kmpl. The shocker is that average speed is 18 kmph! Bangalore traffic, what more can I say.

I try not to exceed 2500 rpm at any time, and don't plan to exceed 100 kmph for the first 500 kms atleast. Gurus, please advise on the run-in tactics.

I have a couple of long drives lined up and looking to reach the 5K mark long before the stipulated 6 months (for the 1st service).

I will update the thread with more photographs. All the rest exceed the size limits, so will have to snap a few with lower resolution.

OT - I got the RC book yesterday. The wonder of it! Everything - my name, wife's name, address, Chassis Number, Engine Number - all correct. Considering that my name has 20+ alphabets in it, this was no mean feat.
Congrats on your new acquisition

I'm facing the same issue of the media player turning off for a few seconds if I press the horn too long on my linea, I haven't been bothered enough to get it checked up at the ASC. I wonder if anyone else has the same problem, but then, a Fiat wouldn't be a fiat without a few quirks
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Old 12th January 2012, 09:02   #13
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Default Re: A new year, a new car - my BNW Punto 1.3 MJD EP+

Quote:
Originally Posted by fiat_tarun View Post
Very well written there DeepChat. There is this connect which Fiat's have with the driver that is missing with the other cars however better or worse they maybe. Have a good time with your Punto, i'm sure she won't let you down.

I honestly thought they would bring in the new gearbox for the 2012 Punto, but Fiat had their own plans. (Do they even have a plan ??)
Thanks Tarun. I think the 2012 launch was just a ploy to creat some buzz and have an excuse to hike prices. After sitting in the 2012 car, I saw no significant difference from the 2011 model.

Quote:
Originally Posted by flyingkolors View Post
Excellent writeup there after long time. I read thru your review with great interest.

I echo most of your view points and went through the same while buying the car. Only difference is that I ended up with a i20! What was your final OTR price?

Wishing you many more happy miles with the beauty. Post more and more pictures. Its never tiring to see a Punto. And get TBHP stickers, they go very well on the Punto!
Thanks flyingkolors! The OTR came to 7.61 L (inclusive of cash discunts, corporate discounts and free insurance). Besides the standard accessories, I got the 'Punto' scuff pads for both front doors as well as free sunfilm (3M CT30). The sunfilm was put on by mistake, but saves me having to change them immediately

As far as stickers are concerned, that is under negotiation with my wife. She is anti stickers, so trying my best to convince her.

Quote:
Excellent writeup Deepanjan sir, Well, like everyone else are saying, please post more pics of miss. snow white
Thanks Sajan!

I took the car to BIAL early this morning to drop off my wife. A journey of 90 kms in scant traffic (by Bangalore standards). The car returned an FE of 19.3 kmpl (as per the trip computer). I never crossed 90 kmph. The USB did not misbehave no matter how many beeps I made on the horn.

Took a series of snaps in the BIAL parking lot and uploading them for your viewing pleasure. Pardon the quality. These were taken in the pre-dawn and I did not mess around too much with the settings as I was worried about exceeding the file size limits.

A new year, a new car - my BNW Fiat Punto 1.3 MJD EP+-p1120953.jpg

A new year, a new car - my BNW Fiat Punto 1.3 MJD EP+-p1120954.jpg

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A new year, a new car - my BNW Fiat Punto 1.3 MJD EP+-p1120979.jpg
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Old 12th January 2012, 11:07   #14
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Default Re: A new year, a new car - my BNW Punto 1.3 MJD EP+

Congrats on your latest stint with an Italian Babe DeepChat !!

She just looks Gorgeous under that early morning light.

I did drive the 75hp Multijet once before and can relate to everything that you have mentioned. I believe the only reason why this beauty is not a Stonker on road is due to its weight.
Its like asking Arnie to beat Bolt in a 100 mts Dash!! Ofcourse we know who would fare better in moving weights around.
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Old 12th January 2012, 11:47   #15
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Default Re: A new year, a new car - my BNW Punto 1.3 MJD EP+

Congrats bro on your Punto and welcome to the FIAT club (Once again). That's a nicely written initial ownership report for sure.

BTW, Punto is one such hatch which can carry ANY color effortlessly and look equally elegant in every color
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