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|21st October 2014, 09:16||#1|
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Fiat Avventura : Test Drive & Review
The Fiat Avventura has been launched in India at a price of between Rs. 5.99 - 8.17 lakhs (ex-Delhi).
What you'll like:
• Good looking! Tail-mounted spare, plastic claddings & roof rails distinguish Avventura from the Punto
• "Vault-like" build quality. Feels much more solid than the Asian competition
• 92 BHP turbo-diesel offers adequate power & good fuel economy. Better tuned than the Punto Evo
• Superb suspension. Mature ride & dynamics package
• Perfectly calibrated power steering is a joy to use
• Massive 205 mm of ground clearance! Broken roads pose no problem at all
• Equipment (16" alloy wheels, Blue&Me, rear air-con, ambient lighting, high-terrain gauges etc.)
• ABS & dual airbags on the diesel variant
What you won't:
• Tail-mounted spare wheel is impractical. Opening the hatch is a cumbersome affair
• T-Jet engine isn't an option. Lacklustre 1.4L petrol available, but without ABS & Airbags
• Kerb weight sees a 65 kilo increment. A heavy car becomes heavier
• Interior quality & finish still have rough edges. Some messed up ergonomics too
• Poor rearward visibility. Parking sensors are sorely missed
• Limited rear bench space by segment standards
• Long throw, rubbery gearshift. Gear ratios could do with an improvement too
• Inconsistent after-sales service quality. Remains a hit or miss. Network has limited spread across India
Last edited by GTO : 21st October 2014 at 14:00.
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|21st October 2014, 09:18||#2|
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re: Fiat Avventura : Test Drive & Review
Fiat Punto (Fiat Grande Punto : Test Drive & Review)
Toyota Etios Cross (Toyota Etios Cross: A Close Look)
VW Cross Polo (Volkswagen CrossPolo. EDIT : Now with Spy Pics!)
Ford EcoSport (Ford EcoSport : Official Review)
Last edited by GTO : 21st October 2014 at 13:13.
|21st October 2014, 09:21||#3|
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The Avventura is part of the action plan announced by Fiat a little time back.
Looking at the sales figures for the past one year, it's clear that a lot more work is required, but that topic will have to be covered some other day and hopefully, on some other thread. For in here, we concentrate on the latest product from the Fiat stable. This is the latest entrant into the hatchback-based crossover segment, so far defined by the Volkswagen Cross Polo and the Toyota Etios Cross. The competition rules for new entrants are quite simple really - 1. Take a sub-4m hatchback. 2. Add some black cladding all around. 3. Add the name 'Cross' in there somewhere. However, owners don’t need to say 'Fiat Cross Punto' or 'Fiat Punto Cross' every time someone pops a question. Fiat decided to revive the erstwhile 'Adventure' name tag; this time around in Italian.
Introducing, the Fiat Avventura:
Judging from the initial reactions at the Auto Expo 2014, most people liked the Avventura's styling. It's based on the Punto, but looks different. On the exteriors front, the Avventura concept was displayed with a facelifted front end, projector headlamps, LED DRLs, metal base plate for the front bumper, tastefully executed black cladding underneath, side strips on the doors, LED tail lamp cluster and even a spare wheel that looked like its mounted on the rear hatch (for that SUV'ish look). And those large 225/45 R17 wheels!
When Fiat introduced the Avventura concept at the Expo, the Punto used to look like this:
The Avventura looked refreshingly different compared to the older Punto. But then, Fiat decided to facelift the Punto with design cues from the Avventura concept and the end result was this:
Net effect - Fiat reduced the Avventura concept from a fresh design to yet another Cladding-Under-Hatchback design. The company should have introduced the Avventura ahead of the facelifted Punto Evo. Further, the projector headlamps and LED DRLs should have been retained from the concept version to distinguish it from the Evo even further. There's no hope of the 1.6 diesel hitting the market soon. Still, at least the T-Jet engine option should have been provided for enthusiasts. It would have served as a great differentiator!
I spent some time with the pre-launch Avventura display car at one of Bangalore’s premier shopping malls. And the car turned out to be a crowd puller. I feel that the contributing factors were the orange colour with contrasting cladding that makes the Avventura stand out, the spare wheel on the boot and that 'cycle mount' on top. It is not only the enthusiasts who are interested in it. The orange media cars grabbed attention wherever we went. School kids with animated expressions, people straining their necks out from all sorts of vehicles to get a view, taking pics etc. The Grande Punto might have been a good looking vehicle, but from my experience, it never turned as many heads on the road.
The Avventura manages to look great without trying too much. IMHO, the Avventura excels the recently launched Punto Evo in the looks department. There is no overdose of chrome here, no overdose of cladding or plastics. The spare wheel could polarise opinions among enthusiasts, but the masses seem to like it.
The front is shared with the Punto Evo sans the new front bumper with the metal-finish plastic cladding and skid plates. Some design elements like the swept-back headlamps, power bulge on the bonnet etc. suit the Avventura better than the Punto Evo. As mentioned earlier, it would have been better for Fiat to retain the DRLs and projector headlamps from the concept version to distinguish the Avventura even further.
Moving to the side profile, there is very little to distinguish the Avventura from the Evo, until you notice the spare wheel mounted towards the rear. There are also the roof rails which are aesthetically pleasing - made of aluminium rather than the usual plastic. Those with fine eyes for detail will notice the 'new' LED tail-lamps which debuted a few months back with the Evo. The alloy design is similar to the 15 inchers of the Evo, but it has only five spokes here (instead of seven like the Evo).
The defining factor is the rear. The spare wheel appears tailgate mounted, although it is actually hinged to the chassis through the rear bumper. It looks nice from the rear, but a sore point is the sheer size of the cover. The spare wheel cover also hosts the Avventura monogram as well as the Fiat logo. The LED tail-lamps look stunning, especially at night. The rear fog lamp and reverse lamp assembly look much better here, sans the thick band of chrome of the Evo. The rear bumper also gets the customary metal-finish plastic skid plates.
The build quality is as expected of a Fiat. The doors close with a reassuring thud, the quality of plastics used for the cladding 'feels' strong and the paint finish is surprisingly good. Not only does the car feel heavy, it is heftier when you compare the numbers with the Punto Evo. The biggest differentiator is the height - 47 mm more for the Avventura compared to the Evo. I presume 20 mm is due to the increased ground clearance and another 30 mm is from the roof rails. Length goes up by a marginal 2 mm, while the car sits wider by 19 mm (due to the plastic claddings).
The front end stays true to the original Avventura concept, but misses out on the LED DRLs and projector headlamps:
Power bulge on the bonnet looks beautiful and ends with a flush mounted Fiat logo. The windscreen washers are now placed on the bonnet, instead of the plastic housing they had earlier:
Headlamps similar to the Punto Evo:
Cool detailing on the headlamps:
Grill is an interesting mix of designs. Tasteful usage of chrome elements:
ORVMs with turn indicators:
16" alloy wheels:
205 mm of ground clearance!
Gap between the wheel arches & tyres is massive. Here with an iPhone 4S:
Rear looks very different from the Punto, thanks to the spare wheel positioning:
Viewed from the rear three quarters:
Evo tail-lamps look brilliant at night:
Underbody is clean. Car comes with underbody engine protection:
Last edited by GTO : 21st October 2014 at 13:20.
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|21st October 2014, 09:23||#4|
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The tail-mounted spare
Ours is a country known for its fascination with SUVs. One visit to the weird and wacky mods thread (Pics of weird and wacky mod jobs!) is enough to judge the Indian mentality towards tail-mounted spare wheels.
The Avventura's spare wheel positioning could polarize opinion, but it is very difficult to call it ugly! On the plus side, the tailgate doesn't have the added weight of the wheel and it isn't cumbersome to lift. You don't need to worry about rattles settling in on the hatch door thanks to the added weight. This is because the wheel itself is mounted on a separate pivot mechanism that comes from the chassis (note: rattles are heard from the cover though). The whole mechanism feels strong, durable and built to last. GTO commented that it doubles up as a rear crash guard ! The spare wheel cover itself has a nice design to it and carries the Fiat logo. This is held in place by six strong clips, and a clamp at the bottom which can take a padlock for added security. Fiat engineers commented that the key needed to remove the spare wheel is unique to each car and hence, the spare wheel cannot be stolen even if someone manages to get that cover open.
The sheer amount of thought process gone into the whole mechanism is amazing (albeit it still has major quirks like most Italian things!). The boot release opens both, the hatch door and the spare wheel hinge mechanism, but you need to press a button on the spare wheel cover (from the outside) to swing it open. It also holds its position at the extreme open end (unless the button is pressed again). Keeping it open while being parked on slopes isn't going to be a problem.
No, the execution isn't perfect. In a clear case of lost opportunity, boot space remains the same as in the Punto Evo! The space saved in the boot because of the missing 16" wheel now houses a thermocol holding the tool kit & warning triangle. This thermocol unit is about the size of the spare wheel!! Fiat could've used this opportunity to market a bigger boot, with capacity to store items hidden under the tray as well.
Getting the cover open is a task in itself. I popped a question about spare wheel removal to the other reviewers, while we were taking a small break on the outskirts of Pune. We then tried to open the spare wheel cover. With 3 people and 15 minutes of effort, we couldn't even manage to open half of those 6 clamps. Don't fret - it's not all that bad once you get to know the right technique; that is, you need to proceed one by one from bottom to top. Would advise owners to give it a try at least once before hitting the highway, just to be sure that you are comfortable with the procedure.
No amount of practice can prepare you for the sheer amount of complexity there is in opening the boot! Firstly, it adds an extra step that's rather unnecessary. Secondly, it requires some experience and the security guard at your nearby shopping mall might just stand there with a perplexed look, till you step out and open the boot for him. Last but not the least, a good amount of space is required at the back to swing out the spare wheel mount before opening the boot.
The spare wheel hinge has to remain in the open position for the hatch to go up, otherwise it will hit the spare wheel cover. In a basement parking spot, you'd need vertical space for the hatch to open, and horizontal space for the spare wheel mechanism to swing out...not really practical as explained in the pics below.
The 60/40 split seats come as a boon here, and it's easier to just flip the rear seat down and access the cargo area (vis a vis attempting to open the boot in congested parking spots).
There is a prominent rattle from the spare wheel cover while driving hard over potholes. This was very irritating and ruined the otherwise perfect ride quality experience. Note: this was only heard under hard driving. Following another media car during our high speed highway run, we could clearly see the spare wheel cover vibrating away to glory over bad roads. Not expected from a company otherwise known for its rock solid build quality. The spare wheel cover feels strong, but maybe it's not enough!
Boot requires vertical as well as horizontal space to open. Not practical!
The 'boot release' button on the dashboard or key fob can be used to release the hatch. The spare wheel doesn't budge until it is manually released from the outside:
Pull this switch (behind the cover) to release the spare tyre assembly:
The spare wheel is even more difficult to remove. Cover can be secured with a padlock:
Cover is held in place via 6 clips. Open them in the below order, else the spare wheel mechanism won't budge. 2/3 and 4/5 can be interchanged:
Clips that hold the spare wheel cover in place:
Typical Indian parking scenario. There was enough space to wriggle the car out of this slot, but not enough to open the boot!
Some of you might be thinking - why is this mentioned as a fault only with the Avventura, and not other cars where the rear hatch needs to be opened horizontally (e.g. Ford EcoSport). The answer is shown below. Unlike the EcoSport where you can open the door ever so lightly and peek inside to grab your laptop bag, the Avventura requires the spare wheel mount to open out before the hatch door can be brought up. Again, the 60/40 split seats come in handy here. I found it easier to simply flip the rear seats down & pick my stuff from the boot, rather than opening the tail-gate for such smaller items.
Hatch door bangs against the spare wheel cover, unless the spare wheel mechanism is kept wide open:
A closer look at the mechanism:
Spare wheel without the cover:
Full size 205/55 R16 spare. Fiat officials claim that the key to unscrew the spare is unique to each car and hence, it won't get stolen:
280 liter boot:
Wasted opportunity. The entire space vacated by the 205 mm spare wheel is used for keeping a thermocol unit housing the tools & warning triangle:
IRVM doesn't show enough detail. Lack of reversing aids is a big concern. Seen here is the view when parking in front of a Swift Dzire:
A bike parked behind the Avventura is completely out of the IRVM's view. Again, reverse parking aids (sensors, camera) are sorely missed:
Last edited by GTO : 21st October 2014 at 13:18.
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|21st October 2014, 09:26||#5|
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If you've been inside the refreshed 2014 Linea & Punto Evo, the Avventura's interior should be familiar territory. The dashboard remains identical, save for the special off-roading meters which shall be discussed later. The two-tone dash with its mix of aluminium inserts, piano black finish and soft touch materials lends a premium feel. The beige of the Punto Evo is replaced with an alcantara-like material which might be a bit difficult to maintain over the long run. The steering wheel remains beautiful to hold, and also houses buttons for the audio system & 'Blue&Me' controls. The perfectly shaped thumb contours enhance comfort, but the poor ergonomic placement of the steering wheel ensures it remains a bit too high, even at the lowest setting of the tilt adjustment. The quality of leather seems to have worsened over the years as I find my old Punto's steering better to hold than the one of the Avventura. Personally, I didn't like the material used on the dashboard. Not denying the fact that it is soft touch, but the patterns look more like dust to my eyes!
Climate control is present on the higher variants. It always did a good job of cooling the cabin; what helps even further is the addition of a cooling vent for rear passengers. The music system is a carry forward from the Evo and remains nice & funky. The red colour of this system, climate control & instrument panel is complimented by the ambient lighting provided. The instrument panel is classy, well laid out and easy on the eyes.
The ergonomics again aren't perfect. For instance, the ORVM controls are a bit of a stretch even for taller drivers. The dead pedal spoils the experience by interfering with available room for the ABC pedals. And yet another are the seats themselves. They provide nice support for the lower back, good lateral support and brilliant side bolstering, but are let down in the under-thigh support department. In fact, over a short test drive, it is difficult to achieve a perfect driving position with the Avventura (or its siblings for that matter)! Still, the Avventura fares somewhat better than the Linea / Punto here, thanks to its higher seating position.
Fiat has provided art leather seating, while the contact areas are still fabric to aid comfort levels. The door pads also get the same art leather treatment. All windows are enabled with 'one-touch-down' functionality, while the driver's window has 'auto-up' too. This comes in quite handy at those toll plazas!
There are a few rough edges inside. For example, the door handles and the handle for seat height adjustment were flimsy in the earlier Punto. That hasn't changed with the Avventura. Practicality was another negative and still is - there is only one proper 1L bottle holder in the entire car! The doorpads can hold a half liter at best, while the one provided near the gear lever is best used as a cup holder. On the plus side, the only 1L bottle holder is directly in front of the rear A/C tower and helps keep the water cool.
A lot has been said about the 'Blue&Me' system. It's not so easy for the first timer, and a simple control like changing the music folder can be quite confusing. Another complaint is the absence of A2DP or Bluetooth streaming. All these concerns are justified. However, you tend to fall in love with this system over the longer term. The other Bluetooth system I use often is in our Hyundai Xcent, and I end up missing the small thoughtful touches provided by 'Blue&Me'. Returning calls is mostly a two touch operation. In the Hyundai, you need to take your eyes off the road and your hands off the wheel to do the same. 'Blue&Me' also has voice controls which work like a charm and can be a party trick to impress your friends. What won’t impress is the sound quality. The speakers were upgraded for the Punto Evo and the same is shared with the Avventura as well. They are far from audiophile grade and beg for an upgrade.
Equipment levels are good. You get Bluetooth telephony, climate control, day / night rear view mirror, steering mounted controls, 'auto down' for all four power windows, speed sensing auto door locks, 'my car' controls with real time fuel efficiency etc. You also get some 'offroading' equipment - a compass, tilt-meter and a clinometer. This is quite an overkill for a tall FWD hatchback, but is interesting nevertheless. You can measure all those speed breakers and potholes in town, the exact body roll around corners and max out the tilt-meter on curves.
Conspicuous by their absence are features like parking sensors (or even a reverse camera) which would have been beneficial, considering the limited rear visibility and the added spare wheel to account for!
Ambient lighting on the dashboard:
Steering wheel feels good to hold. Has integrated buttons for audio and telephony:
Quality of leather has reduced over the years. My Punto's old 77000 kms steering wheel feels better than this one. New material has more grip though:
Dashboard ends up looking dirty at places, thanks to the material used. Personally, I'm not impressed with this soft-touch dash. Traditional beige / black would have looked better than grey. That said, it does feel nice to the touch:
Side air-con vents can be shut, but still let out a small quantity of air anyway:
The center console is a differentiating factor of the Avventura, thanks to the clinometer, tilt-meter and compass. The console itself is carried forward from the Punto Evo. The Evo's small coin box has been replaced with the above-mentioned meters. The console looks elegant, due to the piano black finish of the music system. A disadvantage - the piano black finish attracts dust. Luckily, it's not a major fingerprint magnet as it would seem:
Center console at night:
Some folk complain about the system being unable to detect & play tracks directly from the cellphone? I haven't faced this issue with my iPhone. Once connected via USB, music can be controlled via the phone as well as steering mounted controls. However, a major drawback with the player is the lack of Bluetooth streaming which has become a 'must-have' feature in the segment:
The compass shows the current direction using the console lights. The system works flawlessly, although most people might not have any real world use for a compass in this car...or this era of smartphones. Compass showing south-east here. The dials can be read easily in broad daylight:
Onto the second gauge - the tilt meter. Fiat thought it would be nice to let owners know the exact body roll around corners, and let me guarantee you, this little thing is fun! As my co-driver from another publication commented 'people would be encouraged to take corners harder just to see this thing hit the limit'. Not a hard target considering the stable handling on offer! A reading of 3 shows 30 degrees of body roll. The clinometer doesn't work as seamlessly. At 10 degrees per marking, you only get to see level 1 or (maybe) 2 on the steepest of inclines:
Fiats have always been criticized for their poor fit & finish around the keyhole area. Avventura fares better in this regard, although it's far from perfect:
Another part that doesn't belong to a car of this segment!
You don't need to bend down into those seats as you would in the Punto; the additional 20mm ground clearance and a higher set of seats help in this case. However, the seats are still on the lower side when comparing to crossovers like the Ford EcoSport. The seat compound is firm and due to the new driving position, the steering wheel doesn't feel set close to the chest level as in the Punto. Another benefit from the new seating position is the under-thigh support for the front seats which was always found lacking in the Punto. It's still not perfect, but noticeably better compared to the Punto.
The seats compliment the character of the car well. They are firm and provide good side bolstering & lower back support. You don't sink into these seats, and the hard compound suits the mile munching abilities of this car. Top-end variants get driver seat height adjustment as well. Occupants at the front have 3 cupholders to choose from, although they can take only 500ml bottles.
The rear seat provides good support. This, combined with the outstanding ride quality of the Avventura, makes it a nice place to be seated for long drives. What spoils the fun though is the rear legroom and headroom which could be termed 'adequate' at best. There is no armrest provided at the rear and legroom is almost inexistent for the third passenger, thanks to the A/C tower. Rear seat passengers get one bottle holder (proper 1 liter holder this time).
Great looking seats:
A closer look at the fabric design. Materials used - mix of art leather, perforated art leather and fabric. Side bolstering is pretty good too:
Front seats provide good support for the lower back, but don't feature adjustable lumbar support. Under-thigh support is lacking...although not to the same extent as in the Punto. Hard compound foam is good for long distance travel:
Front occupants get a pair of bottle holders, one on each door. They can hold only 500ml bottles at best!
Additional cup holder in front of the gear lever. I don't remember seeing any other cars with an asymmetric design for the holders! Thanks to this 'feature', only 500ml bottles can be stored here:
Limited clearance between the clutch pedal and dead pedal. Reviewers kept complaining about the dead pedal coming in the way of clutch operation. I myself found it to be a big irritant, even though I'm used to the dead pedal of my Punto. Fiat could have done better by simply providing empty space here (instead of the dead pedal):
Rear seat offers good under-thigh support. Legroom and headroom are nothing to write home about though:
Legroom with the front seats adjusted for my height (5"11') is adequate. 6 footers might not be comfortable:
Rear seat is flat and wide. Notice the long seatbase that provides good under-thigh support. Also shown here is the minimum & maximum legroom for rear occupants. The front seats have a long range of travel to accommodate taller drivers, but the rear seat legroom is severely compromised in such cases:
Rear bottle holders are anything but that. They could be used as map pockets at best, since a bottle cap itself is a tight fit in here:
Rear bench has a 60/40 split and can double fold. This greatly increases cargo practicality. The floor board is nearly flat once the seats are double folded. Note the base metal plates of the rear seats:
Last edited by GTO : 21st October 2014 at 13:17.
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|21st October 2014, 09:28||#6|
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The Smaller yet Significant Things:
A few parting shots:
Disclaimer: Fiat invited Team-BHP for the Avventura test-drive. They covered all the travel expenses for this driving event.
Last edited by GTO : 24th October 2014 at 16:42. Reason: T-Jet ARAI rating has increased to 15.7. Thanks to Azhar915 for pointing that out
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|21st October 2014, 09:28||#7|
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Most of you would agree that the 90hp 1.3L diesel is the more relevant engine option here. The Avventura uses the national diesel engine with a variable geometry turbo, producing 92 BHP @ 4000 rpm and max torque of 209 Nm @ 2000 rpm.
In this day & age where cars are becoming lighter, the Avventura is an exception. The whole exercise added 65 kgs to the Punto Evo...which was a heavier car to begin with! The Fiat crossover weighs nearly 230 kgs more than the Toyota! All this becomes a big disadvantage when it comes to performance. Even more so when the heaviest car here is also endowed with the smallest diesel engine in this segment.
Being a long-time Punto 90hp user, I knew exactly what to expect from the engine, especially when it gets bogged down by the additional weight. However, Fiat proved me wrong on this one. For starters, the Avventura feels refined compared to the Punto 90. There is none of that diesel clatter at lower rpms that you would notice in the Punto. Even when the sound intrudes into the cabin at higher rpms, it's a nice rev happy note that doesn't urge you to ease off the throttle as in Honda i-DTEC or Toyota D4D. It gets to 4000 rpms easily and then onward, progress becomes slow and noisy. If pushed, it will climb higher to the 5000 rpm mark.
Interestingly, I feel the infamous air noise or whistle of the Punto has been resolved in the Avventura. The media cars had very little sound from the wing mirrors, even at high speeds. Has it got anything to do with the wide cladding diverting air flow away from the ORVMs? Tyre noise seemed to be on the higher side though.
And then comes the driveability. The Avventura uses a more linear state of tune than the Punto 90hp. Turbo-lag feels reduced, but the downside is that the mid-range doesn't feel as punchy as before. I'd prefer this tune over my car as it felt just at home in most driving conditions. Part-throttle inputs get better responses than before, and this translates to a superior & relaxed driving experience.
The lag isn't done away with and raises its ugly head when you floor the throttle. This is specially so as the mid-range isn't as punchy as earlier, say at cruising speeds around the triple digit mark. You need to rev this engine to extract the best performance on the highway. The gearbox feels improved as well and the gears row well through the gates. However, it still isn't perfect since there is a rubbery feel to the way it slots. In comparison, the VW's gearbox feels much nicer to operate.
Gear ratios have always been the Achilles heel for Fiat when it comes to 0-100 km/h acceleration, and the Avventura is no exception. The 0-100 figures of the Punto Evo feel significantly lesser than the competition, while the roll-on figures reveal a different story. The difference? The chemistry that's gone wrong between the 1st and 2nd gears! The 1st ratio (4.273) remains extremely short and has a huge gap with the 2nd (2.238) which is again on the shorter side. There are benefits to this setup. For example, you would require absolutely zero pedal input to crawl through bad potholed roads or heavy traffic conditions in first gear, while some of the taller geared competition might require some playing with the clutch & brake pedals.
That said, these benefits don't outweigh the fact that it kills performance. The Linea T-Jet (as an example) easily hits 40 km/h in 1st gear, while this MJD feels stressed at 20! A more determined soul can pull it to around 30 km/h, at which point the engine is screaming for an upshift. Consider an average person who would upshift a diesel engine around the 2500 rpm mark; he would be close to 20 km/h in 1st gear. With an upshift, he ends up at 1200 - 1300 rpm in 2nd gear - right out of the turbo zone. At least a full second is wasted till it regains the lost momentum and starts pulling once again. It's a bit of a relief here that, in the Avventura, you get better response off 1200 - 1500 rpm in 2nd gear, compared to the 'bogged down' feeling of the Punto. 2nd gear feels good for around 60 km/h, while 3rd does over 90 km/h if you're prepared to push it thus far. It's just not acceptable for a 90hp machine to require 4 gears to hit the 100 km/h mark, without revving the bolts off and that hurts the numbers again! The shorter final drive compared to the competition also results in higher rpms while cruising. 100 km/h is at 2500 rpm, while 120 km/h comes up @ 3000 rpm.
Fiat officials present at the media drive replied in the negative to my query regarding any changes to the engine or its tuning. However, many of us reviewers felt otherwise.
The 1.4L naturally-aspirated petrol is carried forward from the Punto. Team-BHP's review for this engine can be found here (Fiat Grande Punto : Test Drive & Review). The 1.4L N/A petrol is available only in Active and Dynamic trims (not top-end variants). Even then, it loses ABS in the dynamic trim compared to the diesel. It sure does look like Fiat doesn't expect the Avventura to sell much in the petrol trim! They might as well have brought the TJet option to the market and retained a small section of enthusiasts who are still willing to consider the Fiat brand as a viable option.
The biggest question haunting everyone since the 205 mm ground clearance was announced is, how does it handle? Really well actually, despite the slight amount of body roll that’s evident when compared to the old Grande Punto. The Punto was always known for its sorted suspension setup and the Avventura thrives on that lineage. Body roll is evident but well controlled, and the weight transfer is well judged around corners. There is quite a lot of fun to be had with the Avventura around corners. However, when it comes to absolute comparison, it's safe to say that the Cross Polo has a slight edge over the Avventura in this department.
Where the Avventura loses ever so lightly to the Cross Polo in the handling department, it makes up with the ride. The Avventura can take almost anything the roads throw at it. Coupled with the fact that you don’t need to worry about the underbody (205 mm ground clearance & underbody engine protection), potholes or rough roads aren't a bother anymore. The Cross Polo has an equally good ride, but then, the limited ground clearance of 168 mm and softer suspension is a bother when negotiating the bad stuff. In fact, the Avventura can continue its pace even when the tarmac ends - mud roads, one wheel off the tarmac etc. are conditions it absolutely shines in. We were able to make fast progress through the village roads from Satara to Panchgani, even though the road conditions bordered from bad to worse most of the time. The Avventura fares much better than the accomplished Punto as well on bad roads. There is one niggle here though, and that's the irritating rattle that comes from the spare wheel on broken roads + high speeds.
Another area where the car delivers is cruising ability. The Avventura is a mile-muncher without doubt, especially in diesel guise. You can cruise at early triple digit speeds all day long without the slightest hint of fatigue to the car or driver. The straight line stability of the Punto is well known and appreciated. The same story continues here. It might just be better thanks to the wider tyres. The hydraulic steering that feels a bit too tight around the parking lot is the best thing to have happened to the vehicle at cruising speeds, inspiring a lot of confidence in the driver. The brakes are a strong point of the car. That, along with the wide tyres & ABS, ensures that you are always in control of the vehicle under heavy braking situations.
Which brings us to an important question - is it fun on the road? Yes, provided you keep the motor spinning at the right rpms. There is no shying away from the fact that the engine is the weakest link here, even though it feels fresh in the Avventura. The chassis always feels more capable than what the little engine can deliver. That said, there is adequate performance to be had in the turbo zone to cruise at triple digit speeds all day long, and also make good use of that chassis setup around twisty mountain roads.
There are some negatives to be noted when driving inside the city. For starters, the pedal arrangement isn't ergonomic, and the clutch pedal sits rather high. It requires a good shove to fully depress it. The actual amount of clutch travel needed is what truly irritates. Then you notice the steering wheel which sits rather high on the dashboard. You'd try to fiddle with the steering rake adjustment, only to realize that the angle of recline is limited and the steering wheel remains a bit too high for comfort. The saving grace, as mentioned earlier, is that the wheel isn't a major irritant (like in the Punto), thanks to the relatively higher seating position of the Avventura. So you learn to ignore it and focus on the driver seat itself to achieve that comfortable driving position. All seems well till you realize that the ORVM controls are placed too far away. On the plus side, the power window buttons are placed just right!
This means, you really wouldn't enjoy the city drive, at least until you get used to these quirks. Even when you get used to them, the steering wheel is on the heavier side for that parking lot manoeuvre. And then, there are the practicality issues of the boot setup mentioned earlier. In short - the Avventura isn't so ideal for use in the city; it is on the highway where it shines like a knight in shining armour.
Very easy to max out the tilt meter :
Large stones aren't a bother, thanks to the ground clearance:
Last edited by GTO : 21st October 2014 at 14:40.
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|21st October 2014, 13:33||#8|
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Re: Fiat Avventura : Test Drive & Review
Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Reviews Section. Thanks for sharing!
Super attention-to-detail. Rating a well-deserved 5 stars.
|21st October 2014, 14:07||#9|
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Re: Fiat Avventura : Test Drive & Review
Great review with superb attention to detail. As has been lamented enough I shall also add a few tears to the pool, Why couldn't the bring the T-Jet .
The pseudo off-roading meters look really nice and add a lot of character to the interior of the car, just like the Pajero IMO.
It will be interesting to note how the market receives the Avventura. Will be keeping a keen eye on the monthly sales.
Hoping it does well. As technically this will be the soul successor of my Adventure. Attaching a picture of my Advy for Nostalgia/ those who do not know what a Fiat Palio Adventure 1.6 was.
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|21st October 2014, 14:13||#10|
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Re: Fiat Avventura : Test Drive & Review
Excellent review, well worthy of 5 stars!
I personally love the looks of the Avventura, including that soft-touch Alacantara like material on the inside and the ambient lighting. This segment hasn't really been set on fire by the Etios Cross and the Cross Polo, but the Ecosport shows there is plenty of demand for it. I don't see the Avventura toppling the Ecosport any time soon, but with its good looks and fresh design, I can see it doing quite well really since it can appeal to the head just as much as it does the heart. Can people look past Fiat's after-sales rep though? Time will tell.
|21st October 2014, 14:15||#11|
Join Date: May 2014
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Re: Fiat Avventura : Test Drive & Review
This will be a definite game changer for Fiat. Maybe what the Punto could'nt do, the avventura will. Grab more eyeballs.
The design is still reminiscent of the early Palios,Sienas and Fiat seems to have worked harded to consolidate their position by attacking every segment.
I still wonder what makes people retain their Palio's for 10+ years of service.(know quite a few people who love their GTX's for anything in the world, a 1.2 NV being there with my neighbour for the last umpteen number of years) Maybe is it the vault like(i prefer tank like) build quality or the emotion behind them(Fiat has rightly named the variant as emotion).
By far the most underrated manufacturer who still has not got the Indian buyers psyche correct.
|21st October 2014, 14:19||#12|
Join Date: Feb 2011
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Re: Fiat Avventura : Test Drive & Review
Missed opportunity for Fiat yet again? Looks so specially with the same Engine options. As has been lamented before, what for God's sake stopped them from putting the Tjet into this?
The rear mounted spare looks ungainly to me. Good thing is that I think it should be possible to remove it and put it inside, since they have retained the wheel well (I believe the thermocol thingy can be removed). Then remove the wheel mounting mechanism, one should be good to go (or so I hope- dont know if it will end up looking worse).
|21st October 2014, 14:25||#13|
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Re: Fiat Avventura : Test Drive & Review
Highly awaited. I was so eagerly waiting for this. But you mentioned the tail tire setup rattled in highspeed runs, in the long run, how do you see it holding up in its place firmly?
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|21st October 2014, 14:29||#14|
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Re: Fiat Avventura : Test Drive & Review
Superb Review CD. A well deserved 5 stars to the thread.
A few points that I noted during the test drive.
1. Ride quality is brilliant. Bad roads dismissed with utter disdain. Did 3 digit speeds on these roads and Avventura does a brilliant job of the ride.
2. Opening the boot in tight places is a challenge due to the mechanism involved.
3. The turbo lag reduced considerably but the mid range punch is now subdued.
4. The compass, tilt meter and inclinometer should have been tilted towards the driver side a bit. The tilt meter is fun initially, but easy to lose interest in it over a period of time
5. The seats are bit more firmer than the Punto Evo and this may be due to the leather seats with fabric seats.
6. The NVH is better than the Punto Evo.
7. The vehicle we drove did have the spare wheel mount shake. But it did not rattle. This rattle could be due the spare wheel cover not being mounted correctly. And it is cumbersome to remove and put the cover back
Last edited by nkrishnap : 21st October 2014 at 14:31.
|21st October 2014, 14:39||#15|
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Re: Fiat Avventura : Test Drive & Review
Excellent review CrazyDriver! Very comprehensive report and review on the car and very detailed pictures to boot.
I had the opportunity to test drive the Avventura MultiJet top end variant and would like to add (sorry if some points repeat) to your review.
- I own the first gen (2011) Linea T-Jet+ and the second gen (2012+) Punto with increased ground clearance. I have to say, the body roll on the Avventura is quite controlled for a car of this GC, not drastically different from my 2012 Punto. The ride quality too is typically fiat-ish and is very plush and controlled. There is minimal harshness for the passengers even on the worst of roads. The suspension smothers all the major and minor bumps with ease. I was expecting a bit of bounciness at higher speeds but that doesn't seem to be the case. It feels more or less like the 2012 suspension setup of Puntos. The 2011 versions are in a different (better) league though, but that's not a fair comparison.
- As already mentioned by CrazyDriver, the ECU map seems to have been retuned in the Avventura. The signature lag on Linea and Punto 90HP Multijets between 1200 and 2000 rpm is almost absent, and that rpm range of power delivery is linear on this car. On the downside, the powerful punchy acceleration between 2200 and 3500 is not present and the map appears to run out of steam pretty quickly, although it revs high. This car is not exactly designed to be a pocket rocket, so it might be ok if the owners are willing to live with downshifts during highway overtakes. Overall, well tuned, almost lag-free engine with linear power delivery, but at the cost of punchy mid-range. Repeating what CD said, the engine also feels a lot more refined than the other MultiJet versions I have driven so far, in fact almost like a petrol.
- Handling and braking are adequate. This vehicle is an example of being a corner carver to some extent in spite of being a CUV. Handling is typically Fiat-like for a mini-SUV-cross, and feels very much glued to the road like a 2012 Punto while cornering. NO hint of being unsettled in corners even when aggressively taken. I have not driven the Polo or Etios cross versions so I won't compare them yet.
- I cannot for the life of me understand why Fiat is still continuing the 2 decade old 1.4 FIRE 90PS NA engine even after so many years of FIRE-based variants being market duds since 2009. There should have been a T-Jet engine putting out sufficient torque to challenge the MultiJet VGT out there, and allowing some fun on open roads. No 2 ways about leaving that config out - it is a big blunder! The Avventura on T-Jet config would have perhaps become another story of the highly acclaimed Palio Adventure 1.6 of the early 2000s.
- The interiors are revamped well and go well with the flow, and the added instrumentation looks good too (although the novelty will fade away after a while). Most bits and pieces of niggles and fit and finish quality have been fixed compared to the older versions of Punto and Linea. However, there are 2 pieces of feedback from me on the interiors - one is the steering should have been redesigned or they could have even brought in dual color tone steering designs like the ones on current-gen Fiats abroad. The (same old) 2009 design on Avventura is too boring and looks old now after 6 years of duty in the Punto and Linea. Overall, the Ecosport and polo cross still fare better in interior fit and finish.
The second aspect is of the seats being dual tone leather + fabric combo. This to me appears like a clear sign of cost cutting and is certainly not to everyone's taste. Only the bolsters and extremities of the seats are brown leather, while the contact portions are all cheap-looking striped grey fabric. Neither is grey + brown leather a good color combination, nor is the whole concept of cost cutting with fabric mix a good idea. They ought to have given full brown leather seats to finish it off with a rich, luxurious feel to differentiate it from the Punto emotion.
- Fiat cars of the current generation have always been lacklustre when it comes to space management in spite of having heavy and bulky dimensions, and this car being based on the Punto is obviously plagued with the same syndrome. The Ecosport has an advantage in this regard when the Avventura begins to battle it out with the Ford after launch.
- One more aspect which I simply cannot agree with is - the tyre sizes are being shared with the Linea Emotion - 205/55R16. When Fiat is going to market this car as a rough and tough mini-SUV to tackle bad roads, one thing which they ought to have thought of is the tyre profile needs to be higher for better cushioning (bigger sidewalls too) in a SUV/CUV which is expected to be used on rough terrain. Low profile tyres go well on sedans, not on a mini SUV that will beg people to thrash bad roads with. I strongly recommend upsizing to 215/60 or 205/60 if prospective owners want to avoid bent alloys after a few rough roadtrips.
- The spare wheel blocking the boot opening mechanism is a ridiculous idea. How ridiculous?? Prospective owners will get to know when they enter a mall parking lot for that customary security check. For those of you working out of tech parks and SEZs with daily boot security checks, good luck! *chuckles*
Overall, nice work but I expected better from Fiat after hyping the product for so long. And where did the projector headlamps and DRLs go missing suddenly from the prototype??
Last edited by Rudra Sen : 22nd October 2014 at 08:26.
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