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Old 2nd April 2013, 23:39   #1
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Smile My FIAT Grande Punto 1.2 Dynamic - Initial ownership review

Hello everyone,
I would like to share the initial ownership review of my Punto 1.2. We upgraded from a Maruti Alto to a Punto 1.2 Dynamic. Its been a month and around 1000kms now.
Whatís good:
  • Superb chassis and suspension, impressive high speed manners for a hatch
  • Steering doesn't feel light at high speeds like our previous car
  • Car feels solid inside out with a good overall build
  • Pretty good NVH levels with windows up
  • VFM as per the current feature list
  • Dead pedal is a boon during long drives
  • Nifty euro car features and equipment
What could have been better:
  • Lacks outright punch, esp with A/C on and passengers aboard
  • Gearbox doesn't like quick shifts
  • Some plastics are of horrible quality
  • Iím not a fan of its looks(esp, the rear) unlike the majority here
  • Iím having some trouble with its ergonomics. Still trying to find a comfortable seating position for long drives
My FIAT Grande Punto 1.2 Dynamic - Initial ownership review-teaser_2.jpg

Last edited by BigBrad : 9th April 2013 at 11:20. Reason: Adding points
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Old 4th April 2013, 00:39   #2
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Default My FIAT Grande Punto 1.2 Dynamic - Initial ownership review

A few words about our Alto:
We bought the car in 2008 from a True Value dealership here. It was the Lxi variant and had around 35k kms on the odo. Our family has had a lot of good and a few bad memories with her. Me and my sibling learned driving in this car. It was bought when I was in college and I still remember those days when I was trying to learn driving. During holidays, I used to reach home early morning and instead of sleeping, I took her to places nearby my home. It was fun driving her through some of the small roads here. In the journey with us, she got some scratches and dents some of which were our mistakes. In the end, I learned the fact that no matter how much you ignore it, she starts on the first crank. The reliability factor of a Japanese car was very much intact. Bye sweetie, hope you find another good garage.

My FIAT Grande Punto 1.2 Dynamic - Initial ownership review-dsc01223.jpg

Last edited by BigBrad : 8th April 2013 at 01:02. Reason: Adding points
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Old 4th April 2013, 23:39   #3
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Default My FIAT Grande Punto 1.2 Dynamic - Initial ownership review

Selection & Booking:
We were contemplating to buy a petrol hatchback below 6lacs(not a penny more) and had shortlisted Swift, Polo, i20, Figo, Sail etc. My dad preferred a spacious, fuel efficient and maintenance friendly car, while I was a little inclined towards performance, ride and handling etc. My only choice among these was Swift and I rejected all the others for one reason or the other. Dad did not like the new Swift’s rear end design plus he said the rear was short on space. He also counted the boot space which was lower than others. We both didn't reach an agreement and so, dad worked out his own logic and went ahead with Sail after a small TD. Though I didn't drive the car, I hated it so much that I had made up my mind to not even bother to have a look at it when it comes home. It looked downright cheap and the insides looked two decades old. I gotta tell this here. When was the last time anyone saw the power window buttons placed ahead of the gear lever? I remember only Tata Indica/Indigo, but that was more targeted at taxi market and less at family buyers. The interiors screamed "cheap". Chevrolet was taking Indians for granted and the sales chart shows. Kindly pardon me if my opinion has hurt anyone. To my luck, the Chevrolet dealer said they had some production issues and hence will not be able to fulfill our booking. They refunded our booking amount.

At this point, I was hoping to change Dad’s mind to Swift, but his next choice was Punto which according to me was way better than Sail, though still not good. This came as a surprise to me, coz its only when the sales executives Vyshakh and Biju came home to collect the booking amount, did I know that dad is gonna book the car. Knowing dad, I buried all my dreams of driving a Swift. I have no soft corner for Swift, but for a petrol hatch below 6lacs, Swift ticked all the right boxes(especially in the eye of a car enthusiast like me). The interior space was the only issue which was anyways more than our present car, Alto. If we were looking at diesel, then I would rate Punto almost on par with the segment best, but in our case, dad was gonna buy the 1.2 Petrol which on paper looked so bad. Very low power-to-weight ratio was bothering me the most and I did my best to convince dad against this. I gave him many reasons like poor resale value, fit n finish not the best, service experience is still unknown with new dealers etc along with less power. But he was not gonna change his decision and I had to give up. I then tried to convince myself with dad's choice with some thoughts.

Polo:
What a classy looking hatch it is. Not too modern like an i20, not too artistic like a Punto, not too sporty like a Swift, Polo's design had a charm of its own. The quality levels, ride & handling were also good in this segment. But, it will be more expensive to maintain in terms of both part costs and regular services. FIAT's part prices and service bills were relatively cheap. If the ownership costs were slightly lesser, I would have pressed dad for this car.

i20:
i20 made it to the list for a few valid reasons like being spacious on the inside and I liked its design too. The first thing that struck me against i20 was its dynamic abilities at high speeds. Right from the start, I wanted to buy a car that handled well. I had a chance to TD the old non-VVT 1.2 engine which didn't feel much powerful. It may have a better power-to-weight ratio, but the steering and suspension was simply no match for the Punto.

Figo:
In my view, Figo comes close to Punto when it comes to dynamic abilities. After all, it comes from a Ford factory. But I never liked Figo's design and the recent facelift made it look even worse to me. The 1.2 petrol engine was almost on par with the Punto 1.2 except for may be a better power-to-weight ratio. As reported in some ownership threads, the mileage in city was in the range of 9-10kmpl which was again unacceptable.

So, finally without even a TD dad booked Punto 1.2 at Hyson Auto Sales, the newly inaugurated FIAT showroom in Cochin. The total on-road price was around 5.63lacs which included cash discounts, basic accessories like mud flaps, floor mats, reverse parking sensors, 2yrs extended warranty and road side assistance. Few days after the booking, the dealership gifted us a Dinner set. Initially we booked the Active variant, but changed it to Dynamic after realizing the fact that for a mere 25k, you get things like all power windows, fog lamps, stereo, driver seat height adjust, rear wash n wipe, defogger, electrically adjustable ORVMs, desmodronic key, a better MyCar system, body colored ORVMs and door handles, 60:40 split seats, two tone dash etc. SA accepted our request without hesitation and finally got the vehicle on 9th March. Being one of the first customers at the new dealership, dad received the keys from ex-Fiat MD, Mr. Enrico Atanasio. Floor mats and mud flaps(the absolute edition ones are now OE) were not ready at the time of delivery and the SA promised to get them fitted asap. We were given 5lts of petrol which was filled at a nearby pump.

My FIAT Grande Punto 1.2 Dynamic - Initial ownership review-img_0235.jpg

Last edited by BigBrad : 8th April 2013 at 01:34. Reason: Adding points
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Old 5th April 2013, 09:06   #4
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Default My FIAT Grande Punto 1.2 Dynamic - Initial ownership review

Initial Driving Impressions
My FIAT Grande Punto 1.2 Dynamic - Initial ownership review-img_0278.jpg

So far, we have clocked only around 1000kms and still in the early days. The lack of power was evident right from the first drive home. 3 people including me were in the car and with A/C on, there was absolutely no punch. Acceleration from standstill was very slow and I was trying hard to reach 60-70kmph. With A/C switched off, power delivery improved and was definitely better. Still, its no match for the awesome K-Series engine in Swift. The first thing that I did after reaching home was to tell dad that our next car will be entirely my choice and that I will not let anyone interfere in that decision. I would only tell them on the previous day of booking that Iím gonna book so and so car and be ready to come to the showroom tomorrow. This was made very clear. After the Alto, I just wanted a car which was fairly powerful at least and this very first drive turned out to be so bad for me. I was very very disappointed on the first day that I didn't want to drive her at all. I told this to some of my friends and they suggested doing some performance mods to improve power. I was not all interested in spending a penny on her. In fact, I had planned to swap the OEM JK tyres for Michelin XM2 or Yoko A-Drives right after delivery. And after this drive I thought why should I waste money on a car that I donít like? It made no sense to me.

After a disappointing start, I tried to understand the characteristics of the engine better. The 1172cc, 4-cylinder engine produced a max power of about 68HP @ 6000rpm and the max torque was rated at 95Nm @ 2500rpm. With this figure in mind, I tried to find out the ideal rev range where the power was spread out. During many highway drives that followed, I understood one thing. There is no point in keeping the revs below 2300rpm. It feels very sluggish(more so with A/C on) in that range and the car takes ages to move. I'm damn sure many people behind my car would think, "Who's the grandpa driving this Punto in front?". Once you cross 2300rpm, things definitely feel better. From 2300rpm till about 3500rpm, the engine picks up speed faster. Its naturally the torque generated @ 2500rpm that is making things better. Still, its no Swift and when I say better, its only better than our previous car, Alto. Overtaking moves needs a good time-distance calculation before attempting. Turn the A/C off and the engine feels even better. It doesn't feel ultra-sluggish below 2300rpm and overall there is a better feeling of power all over the rev range. I would prefer to drive it this way especially if I need to make some decent progress.

I hope the engine would open up a little bit more after the first service. Although not necessary as per manual, Iím planning to do an Oil+filter change during first service. The manual states that the OE spark plugs are from NGK. I searched their website, but unfortunately there was no iridium plug available for this engine. Guys, please suggest a simple inexpensive mod that would make the throttle feel a little more sharper atleast. Clutch action is smooth. However, the gearbox doesn't encourage you to shift fast. The throw is a bit long and its no Japanese/German slick shifting either. Being a 4 cylinder unit, the engine is pretty refined and the NVH levels are good. With windows rolled up and soft music playing, the cabin is pretty silent except for a mild wind noise coming through the windows(they were closed properly). Tyre noise is taken care of by Michelin XM2s which I swapped right after delivery. Once the engine revs cross the 3000rpm mark, she definitely gets audible.

Ride & Handling:
I know, this particular aspect of Punto/Linea has been documented in this forum for umpteen number of pages. Still, let me share my thoughts. The ride and handling of this car is something to be experienced on a typical Indian highway. At 80kmph, in our Alto, I would be feeling a bit nervous and would be very cautious on my inputs. In Punto, I was yawning. I often glanced at the speedo only to find out that I was doing 20-30kmph more than I expected. My sibling in the backseat often complains, "Why on earth are you driving so slow?". The steering feels well weighted, the suspension soaks up road undulations well and the resulting ride is pliant and composed. The most important thing, the brakes, definitely shows good stopping power. I once had a scary moment when I somehow missed the red signal at a traffic light. I braked hard and could hear the screeching sound from tires. Other than that, the car stopped without any drama. Some of the expansion joints in bridges used to send a shiver down my spine in Alto. Not so with Punto which dismisses such things with a comfortable thud.

Build & Interiors:
My FIAT Grande Punto 1.2 Dynamic - Initial ownership review-img_0269.jpg
My FIAT Grande Punto 1.2 Dynamic - Initial ownership review-img_0256.jpg
My FIAT Grande Punto 1.2 Dynamic - Initial ownership review-img_0267.jpg
My FIAT Grande Punto 1.2 Dynamic - Initial ownership review-img_0277.jpg
My FIAT Grande Punto 1.2 Dynamic - Initial ownership review-img_0363.jpg
The car on the whole feels solid. Doors open in 3 stages and shut with a solid thud. This feeling of solidity is lost as soon as you touch and feel the plastic parts, some of them feel very cheap. So much that, I can confidently say Alto was better if you compare. The most annoying ones are the A/c vents which feels like a Rs. 10 toy if you slide them horizontally. The markings on the fuel lid opening lever, the boot opening and bonnet opening lever looks like they were painted by a kid with a normal brush. The A/C control knobs too donít feel good to operate. The LHS stalk to operate the headlight/indicator feels tricky. During the initial days, I used to switch on high beam permanently when all I wanted to do was flash the high beams. Compared to a decade old Alto, these were pathetic. I think the QA/parts procurement team at FIAT should undergo a brief training at Maruti/Hyundai to learn how to make a car with decent quality plastics without charging a premium for it. I can live with all these as long as they do their intended functions.
My FIAT Grande Punto 1.2 Dynamic - Initial ownership review-img_0266.jpg
My FIAT Grande Punto 1.2 Dynamic - Initial ownership review-img_0265.jpg
My FIAT Grande Punto 1.2 Dynamic - Initial ownership review-img_0264.jpg
My FIAT Grande Punto 1.2 Dynamic - Initial ownership review-img_0263.jpg

Ergonomics:
The ergonomics are a bit awkward. I'm 5'10 and during a recent long drive my knees and right foot ankle was paining after driving non-stop for 100kms. The front seats provide zero thigh support and I think the pedals are placed a bit high as well. I tried sliding back the front seats one step more which definitely helped things, though its still not comfortable. That's the maximum possible for a comfortable reach of the pedals. I'm trying to source a cushion that provides under thigh support. Not a normal cushion that covers the entire seat base, but just the thigh part alone. Kindly suggest any other options as well. My left leg was totally fine as I used the dead pedal most of the time.

Mileage:
The mileage in these early days is a bit low and I would like to reserve my judgement until I clock at least 5000kms. Nowadays, she averages 11kmpl for city rides which is bad. Hope it will improve after first service. Take her to a highway and the average shows a serious improvement. I recently averaged 17+kmpl on a 300km trip with 2-3 passengers and some light luggage.

Features:
I love the fact that the Dynamic variant gets a host of features which were previously available only in Emotion variant. These include electrically adjustable ORVMs, front fog lamps, stereo, 4 door power windows with one touch operation, telescopic steering, desmodronic key, driver seat height adjust, 60:40 split option at rear etc. All these and some more for a mere 25k over the Active variant. The dealer supplied reverse parking sensors do help their bit in judging distances while reversing into tight spots. Iím planning to add a camera as well so that we donít miss any obstacles that escape the sensorís radar. The MID is another very useful thing. It lets you calculate trip data, show basic info like date & time, song/FM station name and can also adjust several settings related to the car. The only grouse I have here is the lack of a USB/Aux-In slot for the stereo. As of now, its old CDs and FM and I just can't take it anymore. Also liked the fact that this is an international car, unlike some of the Made-for-India rivals. The good thing about this is that the equipment/components are also similar. For example, the wiper blades that are usually seen on premium Euro/American cars, Hella horn(wish they had the VW/Skoda tone). There are also some small but very useful things like follow me home headlamps, power windows that operate for a minute after the key is taken out, the illumination of power window buttons remains on until you open the door, auto closing of doors etc.

Last edited by BigBrad : 8th April 2013 at 00:35.
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Old 7th April 2013, 23:01   #5
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Default My FIAT Grande Punto 1.2 Dynamic - Initial ownership review

Accessories, mods done:

-Tyre change - Michelin XM2 v/s Yoko A-Drives:
Had planned to do the tyre change and got quotes from most of the prominent shops here like DBS, Global tyres, New bharath Pitstop, Tyrex, Speed Tyre Shoppe etc. My mind was in favor of DBS which was close to my home as well. Digged up a contact who knew one of the partners there and got a pretty good discount from the initial quote. But still, the buyback for the four 165/80R14 JK’s quoted was less than TyreX. TyreX quoted slightly lesser for the new tires too and also included balancing and nitrogen, both of which was free. I confirmed the manufacturing dates and finalized the deal with TyreX. Opted for 185/70 R14 Michelin XM2. After the swap, the ride is better, road noise is very very less. The final amount paid was too good to be true.
My FIAT Grande Punto 1.2 Dynamic - Initial ownership review-img_0271.jpg

-Mud flaps, floor mats & scuff plates:
Mud flaps, floor mats and "FIAT" illuminated scuff plates were installed at the service center in the week that followed. Mud flaps are the absolute edition ones which are now OE. Although they look far better than the previous design, I doubt their effectiveness in stopping dirt during monsoon. The floor mats are not designed to fit the floor area perfectly. Some areas are still left exposed.
My FIAT Grande Punto 1.2 Dynamic - Initial ownership review-img_0356.jpg
My FIAT Grande Punto 1.2 Dynamic - Initial ownership review-img_0351.jpg
My FIAT Grande Punto 1.2 Dynamic - Initial ownership review-img_0250.jpg
My FIAT Grande Punto 1.2 Dynamic - Initial ownership review-img_0234.jpg

I have plans to get this FIAT Genuine Keychain from UK. I'm waiting for a friend who will come to India by May.

A/C not working:
On my way back home, I noticed that the A/C was not working. The blower was working fine, but the cooling was not there. Reached home, tried to switch it on and it didn't work. I took the car back to service center immediately and told this to SA Nijaz. Asked him to call back the technician who fixed the scuff plate, as I suspected it might be some electrical connection problem. There were no other symptoms and all other electricals worked fine. SA Ameer who attended me earlier was out for lunch, so I was assigned to another SA who tried switching it on and off by changing the fan speed from 0 till 4, but the cooling wasn't there. He noted down the diagnosis in a job card and told me to wait inside. Few minutes later, Ameer came and inspected the car. He pushed the blower fan speed button in and voila, the A/C turned on. He said the blower and A/C can be independently operated by pushing the fan speed button inside. Our car’s was pushed in when we took delivery and hence by simply changing the fan speed from 0, the A/C switched on. So, I was of the assumption that there was no way to operate the blower alone since there was no separate button to switch on A/C as found in most of the other cars. I was so relieved with the outcome and left home after thanking him. Till date, this issue hasn't resurfaced.

A/C on:
My FIAT Grande Punto 1.2 Dynamic - Initial ownership review-img_0261.jpg

Push the fan speed button to turn off A/C:
My FIAT Grande Punto 1.2 Dynamic - Initial ownership review-img_0262.jpg

Last edited by BigBrad : 8th April 2013 at 01:01.
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Old 8th April 2013, 01:23   #6
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Default My FIAT Grande Punto 1.2 Dynamic - Initial ownership review

Here are some parting shots:

My FIAT Grande Punto 1.2 Dynamic - Initial ownership review-img_0282.jpg
My FIAT Grande Punto 1.2 Dynamic - Initial ownership review-img_0281.jpg
My FIAT Grande Punto 1.2 Dynamic - Initial ownership review-img_0318.jpg
My FIAT Grande Punto 1.2 Dynamic - Initial ownership review-img_0319.jpg
My FIAT Grande Punto 1.2 Dynamic - Initial ownership review-img_0324.jpg

Euro style wiper blades:
My FIAT Grande Punto 1.2 Dynamic - Initial ownership review-img_0369.jpg

OE HELLA Horn:
My FIAT Grande Punto 1.2 Dynamic - Initial ownership review-img_0376.jpg

Fairly large boot:
My FIAT Grande Punto 1.2 Dynamic - Initial ownership review-img_0273.jpg

My FIAT Grande Punto 1.2 Dynamic - Initial ownership review-img_0372.jpg
My FIAT Grande Punto 1.2 Dynamic - Initial ownership review-img_0370.jpg

Hope you guys liked my review.

Last edited by BigBrad : 8th April 2013 at 01:30.
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Old 9th April 2013, 20:50   #7
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Default Re: My FIAT Grande Punto 1.2 Dynamic - Initial ownership review

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Initial Ownership Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 9th April 2013, 20:58   #8
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Default Re: My FIAT Grande Punto 1.2 Dynamic - Initial ownership review

Congratulations on your new car. Neat and crisp review with Beautiful pictures.

As you said, ergonomics is a problem for many with this car. I would suggest you to use some additional cushion for the under thigh support. That may resolve your issues. It did for me.
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Old 9th April 2013, 22:31   #9
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Default Re: My FIAT Grande Punto 1.2 Dynamic - Initial ownership review

Congrats on getting the Punto Home. The 1.2 tends to open up as you pile on the kilometers. From what I have read, the engine is not the most powerful out there, but does its best in the city with decent mileage for a heavy car.

Enjoy many more happy miles with the Punto.
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Old 10th April 2013, 00:59   #10
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Default Re: My FIAT Grande Punto 1.2 Dynamic - Initial ownership review

@Big Brad , nice detailed and honest review. Punto is really a gem of a car specially when it comes to handling and comfort. The Punto 1.2 is a good city car. One thing I would really like to ask you as you are not much satisfied about the engine performance of the car. Did you test drove a Punto 1.2 before buying or after buying you figured out the lack of performance compared to swift?
Wish you many happy miles with your white beauty.
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Old 10th April 2013, 10:42   #11
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Default Re: My FIAT Grande Punto 1.2 Dynamic - Initial ownership review

Quote:
Originally Posted by BigBrad View Post
I hope the engine would open up a little bit more after the first service.

Your observations on engine performance is spot on. I don't own a Punto 1.2 but have driven one extensively at various odometer points. The car when new was absolutely horrible and nothing improved after first service as well. What I can say is the engine is incredibly refined, rev happy (after some miles have clocked) and quiet for an 8 valve unit. I drove the very same car with the odo now at 32000km and I can easily say that it feels more driveable even with the air con running. It feels a good 15% better than when it was new. Whenever I drive this car, I am always gunning it. I keep the shift points at about 28000rpm. Its perfect and you don't get a sense of losing power. The best part is efficiency is still good when driven hard. Pedal to metal driving resulted in 11kmpl which is pretty much the same when driven sedate. I doubt if the city cycle will ever go above 12kmpl. This is from experience. This car now runs on stock replacement K&N filter. I did not feel any difference in performance. The only gain being a better quality wet filter which will send cleaner air into the engine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BigBrad View Post
With windows rolled up and soft music playing, the cabin is pretty silent except for a mild wind noise coming through the windows.

What you are hearing is wind cutting noise from the ORVM and not a air leak through the windows or door.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BigBrad View Post
Once the engine revs cross the 3000rpm mark, she definitely gets audible.

Its audible in a very good way actually. It sound really good when pushed

Quote:
Originally Posted by BigBrad View Post
The ergonomics are a bit awkward.

Same problem here. My right knee started to ache after about 150km of driving. There is something wrong with the overall alignment or should I say symmetry of the driving position. Not much you can do about it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BigBrad View Post
I recently averaged 17+kmpl on a 300km trip with 2-3 passengers and some light luggage.

This mileage is possible on the highway. You can extract a km or two more.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BigBrad View Post
the illumination of power window buttons remains on until you open the door, auto closing of doors etc.
I did not follow what you meant here. The addition of a grace period to roll up/down the windows post engine kill is a new feature in Fiats.
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Old 10th April 2013, 11:17   #12
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Default Re: My FIAT Grande Punto 1.2 Dynamic - Initial ownership review

Congratulations on your new car. Nice write up and pictures. Punto is fantastic when it comes to a mix of ride and handling. Probably only hatch with exceptional balanced ride and high speed manners.
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Old 10th April 2013, 11:38   #13
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Default Re: My FIAT Grande Punto 1.2 Dynamic - Initial ownership review

Congrats on the car BigBrad. Nice to see a petrol Fiat here. Have fun! Isn't Dynamic the former Emotion? Does your car have rear wash wipe and ABS? Good decision on the tyre swap.

Nice photographs. You have a knack for photography. Why no pictures of the rear? For me, the Punto looks the absolute best from the rear.
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Old 10th April 2013, 11:56   #14
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@BigBrad - Congratulations on the Punto. Totally agree with you regarding the build quality and solid feeling once sitting inside. Recently had that experience when my office colleague got himself one an used Punto. The ride quality of Punto is a great plus for an heavy hatch.

Happy mile crunching and drive safely.
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Old 10th April 2013, 15:45   #15
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Default Re: My FIAT Grande Punto 1.2 Dynamic - Initial ownership review

Many congratulations BigBrad for your Punto.
Surprised to see a petrol Punto on the forum.
The engine would take it's sweet time to open up.
Wish you loads of mile munching and a niggle free performance from the car.
Enjoy your ride and drive safe.
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