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Old 21st March 2016, 18:38   #1
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Default The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto

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My passion for cars began at a very young age. I can still remember a poster of a red Lamborghini Diablo that was on my bedroom wall in the late 80ís. It was also during the 80ís, as a kid, that I used to go through Indian Auto magazines that my granddad and my uncle used to read. At that age I used to go through the magazines to find photos of the exotic cars and tear the pages out in an attempt to collect all those photos. Cars were always an integral part of my life maybe because I was always around cars thanks to me living in a joint family set up and my grandfather being into cars himself. I was never fond of bikes and I never even learnt how to ride a bike during my childhood. When my parents bought a bicycle for me I just rejected it outright and they were not able to convince me to ride it. Part of it has to do with the fact that my father had purchased a really big bicycle keeping in mind the fact that his little boy would grow up and he would have to invest in a bigger bicycle down the years. Basically what this did was every time I would try and ride that bicycle I would end up falling as my feet could never reach the ground (as this helps a person learn balancing initially). After a few falls I asked my dad to buy me a smaller bicycle but he refused and I in my own adamant way refused to ever ride that huge bicycle again. A few years down the line my grandmother said that she would buy me a smaller bicycle but I just kept telling her that I am not interested in bicycles and that I am only interested in learning to drive cars. This is a bit of insight into my psyche and my passion for cars.

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Unfortunately I was not able to learn to drive a car until I was much older (24 to be precise) because my grandfather was extremely possessive of the cars he owned and never let me behind the wheel of any of them. So finally when I was applying for a student visa to Australia in 2002, I enrolled in a driving school and got my license. A few months down the line in 2003 I left for Australia and that was when my car driving/ownership experiences actually began. In the past 13 years I have driven a variety of cars (I canít possibly list them all here) and also owned a slew of them (9 to be precise). From 2003 until early 2006 I had owned 4 cars in Australia and on my return to India in Feb 2006 I was without a car until March 2007 which is when my car ownership/driving experience in India began. The following are the cars that I have owned until today in chronological order of my ownership:
1986 model Mitsubishi Sigma, 1987 model Ford Laser, 1982 model Toyota Celica, 1984 model Toyota Supra, 2004 model Suzuki Alto, 2011 model Chevrolet Beat, 2012 model Honda Brio, 2013 model VW GT TSI and last but not least the Abarth Punto.

These Reindeer headlamps look awesome
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Many of you might wonder what possessed me to purchase the Abarth Punto when I already own the GT TSI. It was the allure of a 145 bhp motor in a hatchback and the fact that it was performance tuned by Abarth that reeled me in. Once the Abarth was launched in 2015 I kept thinking about reasons why I should not purchase this car. I had actually called the dealer not once but 4 times in a 4 month span with an oscillating mind saying that I am coming to purchase the car and cancel the decision the very next day. The dealer being 390 KM away in Vijayawada did not help my cause one bit because itís not the same as driving to a dealership in your city and checking out a car. I had never purchased a car by going out of my city before this and I was truly addicted to the GT TSI which I already had and that was causing a major dilemma in my mind. So basically after months of wavering decisions the spark was ignited by the 2016 union budget where in proposals were put forth to levy substantial taxes on cars that are costing 10 lakh ex showroom. Since it was the end of the financial year in March I thought that this was the best time to kill two birds with one stone by saving on extra levies on the Abarth in the future and also taking advantage of end of the financial year discounts offered by Fiat dealers.

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The Abarth that I purchased was manufactured in 2015 and it was kept as a display car in the showroom. The dealer told me that the cost of a new Abarth on road in AP was 11.65 lakhs and that they were offering 85,000 in discount on the Abarth that they had in stock. I was able to negotiate a bit further and we settled at a discount of 115,000 along with a few freebies such as floor mats, car cover and 3M treatment. The dealer actually got two Abarths which were manufactured in 2015 of which he sold one just a couple of weeks ago (a buyer from Kakinada had purchased it) and the one that was sold to me was just the second Abarth to make it onto the roads of AP. The total on road price of the Abarth worked out to be 10.5 Lakhs with zero depreciation insurance. The one thing that I was not able to do while purchasing the Abarth was a test drive since the dealer made it clear that the vehicle was only a display car and that there was no way he could offer me a test drive. In fact this is the second car that I have purchased without a test drive, the first being the GT TSI that I had owned prior to the Abarth (that was also a display vehicle).

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I am going to divide my review into various sections and try and compare the Abarth with a vehicle that I am really passionate about even now. In fact I still have my GT TSI with me as I compile this review (I am one of the very lucky people who can say that he owns both the GT TSI and the Abarth Punto at the same time even if itís only for a short while) as my relatives who are from Hyderabad will be collecting the GT TSI from me on the 18th in Vijayawada. That means I get to drive the GT TSI into the sunset with one last hurrah all the way to Vijayawada again. I would like to state that what I am about to write is my personal opinion after owning the GT TSI for 3 years and it is not intended to hurt anyone nor am I a fan of a particular brand who is trying to run down another brand. I kept hearing a lot about the Abarth Punto and how its performance is so superlative and this actually made me purchase this car. My thought process was totally inclined towards the performance aspect when I purchased the Abarth Punto. My expectations were sky high after driving the GT TSI for so many years and I naturally expected the moon when I got behind the wheel of the Abarth. Donít get me wrong but the Abarth Punto is a very nice performance oriented car for someone who has been driving any other car except the GT TSI. The GT TSI has set a bar for me mentally and the Abarth somehow was not able to surpass this bar in fact I personally feel that it just fell a bit short especially after all the hype that has been associated with it. Would I have purchased the Abarth Punto if I had test driven the vehicle, my answer to that question is YES, but only if I had never experienced a GT TSI before. Also the fact that 95% of my drive is within the city has an immense bearing on my views. Some of my views may have changed a bit over the time that it has taken me to compile this review but the essence of it is the same.

Looks & Exterior build quality

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They say looks are subjective and it all depends on the eye of the beholder. I for one like classy/elegant designs and at the same time I also like cars which have loud designs. While the GT TSI looks like every other Polo except for some very minute additions, the Abarth on the other hand screams at people to look at it. I actually like the fact that it stands apart from the crowd and how. This car is an attention magnet and I was even fined for speeding the very day I brought my Abarth back to Visakhapatnam (apparently I was doing 76 km/hr in a 70 km/hr zone). Iíve been driving for 13 years and this is the first time I was caught for speeding. It could be because of the sort of attention this car attracts. From the moment you look at the Abarth you know whatís coming at you. Those Abarth badges on the front bonnet and the boot make it look totally unique. A lot of people donít even know what car this is until they come across the name Punto thatís etched on the boot. The stares that this car receives in traffic are truly epic. The 16 inch Scorpion alloys are really snazzy and only add to the oomph factor of this car. While the Abarth that made its debut at the BIC was more understated and didnít have an attention diverting look, this Abarth that actually made its way to the showrooms catches the onlookerís eye with that sticker job. I didnít like this sticker job in the beginning however it seems really good in person and I actually like it. In fact I think Fiat should have actually painted these graphics instead of using stickers the reason being mischievous kids on streets who may actually tear these stickers off the car. The chrome door handles look great but I really donít know how durable they are and if they are prone to scratches from fingernails. Externally the car is a lot higher than the GT TSI due to its tallish stance and itís hard to believe that it is actually 10mm lower than the Polo. The Abarth also has a larger turning radius compared to the GT TSI.

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I was under the impression that Volkswagen makes cars that are similar to tanks until I actually sat in the Abarth. The gauge of the metal and the sturdiness of the external body are way ahead of GT TSI which actually feels tinny compared to this behemoth. The Abarth is also going to be a difficult car to clean because of the way the fog lamps and rear reflectors are designed. The crevices surrounding the fog lamps and rear reflectors tend to accumulate dust and dirt so extra attention is required for someone like me who is a stickler when it comes to maintaining his car. The doors close with an authoritative click instead of a thud as in the GT TSI but I felt that the doors were a bit light compared to the Polo.

Interiors/Ergonomics

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The best part of this car is the all black theme which looks super sporty. The GT TSI that I owned was the early model that had part black theme which did not really gel with the sportiness of the car. That said the quality of plastics in the Abarth is nowhere near what I have come to expect in my GT TSI. The fit and finish of the plastics is not akin to a car that costs more than 11 Lakh on road. The front seats in the Abarth are wide and offer superior levels of comfort and support for long drives in comparison with the GT TSI. Visibility in the Abarth is really good because the windows appear to be a tad bit bigger than the GT TSI especially the rear passenger windows and the rear windscreen. One major drawback in the GT TSI was terrible rear visibility especially while reversing because of the large C pillar and this is something that I didnít face with the Abarth despite its lack of rear parking sensors. Care should be taken while driving the Abarth in traffic due to the rather large A pillars. The seating position in the Abarth appears to be a bit higher than the GT TSI and because of its tallish design taller passengers will not have much of a problem when they sit in the rear seat. When it comes to room and spaciousness I feel that the Abarth is a tad better than the GT TSI. Though the two cars have near identical boot space I feel that the rear leg room is a little better in the Abarth.

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The drivers seating position in the Abarth is awkward and it does take some time to actually find the right balance. Some people may not even find the right balance. The steering in the Abarth is adjustable for height and not reach, so that compounds the problem in finding a suitable driving position. I also feel that the positioning of the accelerator, brake and clutch are too close to each other and hence someone who wears wide shoes will have a problem while driving this car especially while operating the clutch as the dead pedal is too wide and protrudes forward. The pedals actually protrude much forward than they actually should so resting your foot will feel a lot clumsier than other cars. This could result in knee pain for some drivers. There is every chance that your shoe gets stuck in the area between the dead pedal and the clutch. I wish Fiat would have paid more attention to the driving ergonomics in a car that is touted as a driverís car.

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Rear leg room adjusted for my 6 foot height
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No rear wheel well cladding
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Every time I sit in the car and I am off driving it I feel like things couldíve been a lot better when it comes to finding a suitable position. Another flaw that I noticed was the positioning of the speedometer and the tachometer. I wouldíve preferred it if the tachometer was actually on the left instead of to the right. There were a couple of occasions when I ended up revving the car past itís redline of 5500 rpm because I was glancing at the speedometer instead of the tachometer. The power window switches on the driverís side door also seemed to be positioned a bit too forward and hence when I try to roll down the front windows I invariably end up rolling down the rear passengers window. If you want the perfect drivers positioning then this is definitely not the right car for you. No such obvious problems with the GT TSI as you can simply find yourself in the right position as a driver without any drama at all.

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In car Entertainment

I didnít expect much from the stock stereo of this car but it sounds decent. On observation I found that the front doors have 2 speakers each (one mid range and one tweeter). The tweeters are located near the door handles of each front door. The rear doors have similar provisions however they are just dummies. With a total of 6 speakers in the car and the sound quality is decent. That said I would like to point out that the speakers tend to distort if you turn up the bass and audio volume too high. Tinkering around with the bass/treble/equalizer settings to achieve the best possible result is advised. Only hardcore audiophiles will feel the need to upgrade the stereo unless regular joes are looking for extra features such as a touch screen or navigation etc. In comparison the stereo in the GT TSI was mediocre when it comes to sound quality especially at the higher frequency levels. The voice recognition worked really well with the stereo and helped skip tracks, folders etc. Pairing my mobile phone to the stereo via Bluetooth was also hassle free and I also liked the fact that you can scroll through contacts by just looking at the information on the MID which is pretty large (if you are too lazy to do that you can just use voice recognition to dial the suitable contact or a number).

The MID displays information of contacts in your phone etc.
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Air Conditioning

I have to say that I am really impressed with the Abarths air conditioning prowess. The air conditioning unit is an automatic air con with several features that I am not going to elaborate here. I was out this morning and parked the car in the hot sun just to see how effective the air conditioner was. Once I was back I turned on the air con at a temperature of 22 and it ended up cooling the car in just a few minutes. The outside temperature was showing up as 37. Itís the most effective air conditioning unit that I have experienced in a while. The only drawback is that the compressor makes more noise and you can actually feel a bit of the vibration through the steering column. The GT TSI on the other hand has an average air conditioning unit that takes a little bit longer to cool the cabin but it generates less noise compared to the Abarth Punto.

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Engine/Performance/Handling/Braking/Steering/Fuel Efficiency

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Crank the engine of the Abarth and if itís a cold start then you will find that the engine tends to rev higher than normal and is loud. This is a behavior that is similar to the GT TSI. The engine of the Abarth begins to rev at 1250 rpm on a cold start and within a few minutes once the engine achieves the operating temperature the needle settles at 750-800 rpm. The engine is really smooth and you can be mistaken that the vehicle is not idling unless you see the tachometer needle. Based on my observations I felt that the GT TSIís engine is a whole lot smoother and generates lesser noise levels while idling compared to the Abarth Punto. As per the ownerís manual Fiat recommends that we should not only put the car in neutral but also press the clutch pedal, then crank the motor and after the engine has started we are supposed to release the clutch. I am not really sure why we need to do the latter and if anyone of you knows please do share the same with the forum.

Once the car has started and you ease off that clutch it starts to move forward without even a hint of the sort of monster that lurks under that hood. I would like to mention that the clutch is super light and effortless however it does have a lot of play and hence you need to actually be aware of that sweet spot when the engine and transmission engage. The play of the Abarths clutch pedal, reminded me of my erstwhile 2004 Alto. Though I have driven the Abarth for close to 444 kilometers to date I havenít stalled it once however the long play of the clutch will be a pain especially in bumper to bumper traffic. If you let the Abarth take off normally in first gear by giving it light acceleration there is no drama. The insanity actually begins if you press the gas pedal with a heavy foot. If you press the gas pedal half way then you have instantaneous torque steer and if you press the pedal completely to the floor the car just lunges forward with the front wheels spinning all the way to glory while leaving a trail of smoke on the road. To those of you who havenít driven the Abarth please be aware that this ďspinning of the wheelsĒ from standstill does not require you to ďpopĒ the clutch. I have driven several cars before and this is the first time I have experienced a manual transmission capable of this without having to pop the clutch. You will need deep pockets to fund all the tires that this car goes through in case you keep indulging in this frolic on a regular basis. I would also like to emphasize that boy racers on this forum need to be careful of this crazy torque steer especially if your car is on a wet surface as it would be a recipe for a wipeout.

Hard to Clean areas surrounding the fog lamps (notice the intercooler)
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The torque steer also manifests itself in the second gear especially if you are driving with a heavy foot and once you are into the third gear there is no more torque steer. On the highway I observed that the car is eager to accelerate even when it is in the fifth gear and there is absolutely no need to downshift. The power that is available on tap is just phenomenal. On my drive back from Vijayawada I kept the car at a constant 110 km/hr in the 5th gear and I observed that the engine was revving at 2000 rpm which is exactly at the very beginning of the turbo zone of this vehicle and hence it really didnít matter to the vehicle that I was in 5th gear as it would provide me an instant surge of boost on demand. In comparison with the GT TSI in a similar situation on a highway when the car is in D mode and in the 7th gear overtaking or accelerating takes a bit of time unless you actually shift to the S mode and hit the gas when it feels like someone actually hit a nitrous button. Simply put the Abarth is a true beast on the open roads and this is where it shows its pedigree.

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The dynamics of the Abarth Punto have me confused a bit. On smooth sections of the highways you literally feel as though you are doing double digit speeds instead of the actual triple digit speeds that the Abarth is at. On smooth sections of the highway the 110 km/hr speed that I was doing in the Abarth felt as though it was 55 km/hr. A similar speed in the GT TSI on comparable stretches of the highway felt more like 90 km/hr. There is no questioning the stability and speed masking ability of the Abarth Punto as it feels a whole lot more planted than the TSI. I was able to notice a very little bit of wind noise creeping into the cabin in the Abarth Punto at 110 km/hr while this was not noticeable in the GT TSI. The part that really confused me was that the areas of the highway with a lot of patch work or unevenness/roughness was felt more in the Abarth Punto rather than the GT TSI and on such areas of the highway the GT TSI felt more stable and in control in-spite of the Abarths higher kerb weight. The unevenness/undulations were actually felt through the Abarths steering wheel too. I guess this could be because the Abarths suspension has been tuned for handling rather than comfort and it could also be because of the 195/55 rubber this vehicle is shod with. However the ride quality of the Abarth at city speeds and on city roads with speed breakers and potholes was pretty good. I actually found it to be better than the GT TSI.

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When it comes to overtaking abilities on the highway I would have to state that the GT TSI feels like the king. This is because of the turbo zone in the GT TSI falling over a wider range of rpm (1500-4100) in comparison with the 2000-4000 rpm range of the Abarth. For example if you are cruising at a speed of 70-80 km/hr in the GT TSI on a highway and you need to execute a quick overtaking manoeuvre all it takes is a push of the accelerator pedal (without having to get the car into S mode) to propel the GT TSI forward and itís as simple as that because the engine would be revving at close to 1500 rpm at this speed and that is exactly where the GT TSIís turbo zone begins. However the same manoeuvre in the Abarth, at the same speed would require you to downshift to get the revs higher into the 2000 rpm turbo zone to pull off a similar overtaking manoeuvre. In other words you need to actually understand the Abarth to make it do stuff however the GT TSI feels like a car from a videogame. Though the Abarth Punto and the GT TSI are both performance oriented hatchbacks the difference between them in this aspect is like night and day. If you have to choose between these two cars it all depends on what your priorities and driving preferences are.

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I feel that the same thing which I pointed out above makes the GT TSI truly phenomenal on city roads where you try to lunge forward into a gap before a pesky two wheeler or auto rickshaw takes up that gap. With the GT TSI itís as easy as point and shoot while the Abarth is analogous to a DSLR and you need to have your finger on your Abarths pulse to make it do what you say. As most of my drive is within the city I feel that the Abarth is a real pain to drive in the city. With 145 horses under the hood I had expected this machine to be a hoot on city roads however there is a lack of urgency in the Abarths motor that you need to contend with. If you want to work around this then the only way out is to downshift in order to keep your car in that sweet turbo zone which starts at 2000 rpm. I really wish this car had a turbo that spooled at 1500 rpm like the GT TSI as that would have made it truly venomous on city roads.

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The steering of the Abarth seems to be on the heavier side (especially after switching from the GT TSIís super effortless electronic power steering) but I guess that is to be expected when it comes to hydraulic power steering equipped vehicles. I would like to point out that the hydraulic power steering of the Abarth requires more effort than the most recent car that I had owned with a hydraulic power steering (2011 Chevrolet Beat). The steering is very precise and does exactly what itís told when the car is on the road and at cruising speeds. I havenít taken the Abarth onto ghat roads yet however on some of the winding stretches of the famous beach road in Visakhapatnam while doing around 90 km/hr the car did exactly what it was supposed to without even a hint of under or over steer. In fact the car had an eerie sense of composure while negotiating the bends which I have not experienced with the GT TSI or any other car to date. To truly test the limits of the Abarths suspension it has to be put through its paces on a track. However Iíd also like to point out that you need to replace the tires before taking this machine out on the track because I am sure that the tires are not going to be able to handle too much even though the actual car is eager to. On the same roads at a slightly lower speed (80 km/hr) the GT TSIís tires begin to emanate a screeching sound which indicates that the car is at its limits. I bet the Abarth will be an absolute hoot to drive on ghat roads and the only limitation will be the Apollo Alnacís that need to be replaced with tires that offer more amounts of grip to actually test the handling abilities of this car.

Single Reversing lamp.
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I have one word to describe the brakes on the Abarth and that is STUPENDOUS. Iíve driven several cars and Iíve experienced brakes that either had too much bite too early or were spongy and required more effort for braking force to be distributed properly however the Abarth has THE most perfectly calibrated set of brakes that I have experienced till date. The car comes with ventilated discs in front, solid discs at the rear and this combination is truly potent. They say ďwith great power comes great responsibilityĒ and the brakes take up this challenge of stopping this 145 bhp 1.2 ton brute of a freight train on four wheels without any effort at all. All I had to do while cruising at 110 km/hr on the highway was to gently nudge the brake pedal and before I could realize what was happening the cars speedometer was already at 60 km/hr. I donít think I should even compare the GT TSIís brakes with the Abarth because there is only one word to describe them in relation with the Abarth and that is TERRIBLE.

The gearbox of the Abarth is another proverbial fly in the ointment. For a car with such prowess the gearbox simply lets the car down. We can only imagine how awesome this car could have been had it come with a 6 speed gearbox or at least with a slick shifting gearbox instead of the rubbery gearshifts that are suitable for something such as an Alto (no disrespect meant to Alto owners on this forum as I am merely illustrating a point). It is akin to having Usain Bolt on the track but not being able to translate all that fury into amazing 0-100 sprints. Had the car come with an improved gearbox I am sure that it would have been much quicker than the stated 8.8 seconds to the ton. In fact when the Abarth was launched I used to wonder why the car wasnít much quicker than what it is given all that extra power that it generates. There have been a few occasions when I was in traffic and tried to slick shift only to be reminded about the notchy and rubbery feel of this unit. The experts say that the gearbox gets better once you add more kilometers to the vehicle and I am hoping that is the case. The gearbox I feel is one of the areas where the GT TSI simply outshines the Abarth and it is also one of the reasons for the GT TSI coming close to the 0-100 times of the Abarth despite the fact that it has 40 horses less. At the end of the day a car may boast of a bigger engine with more horsepower but it still has to deliver all the power to the wheels in the best way possible. In the initial months of the GT TSIís launch there was a rumor that the GT TSI did not produce the stated 105 bhp and that it was a bit lower than what the company had stated in its brochure. However one drive in the GT TSI and you feel as though it has more than just 105 horses beneath the hood. My initial reaction after getting behind the wheel of the Abarth was ďis this really 145 bhpĒ? The reason for this I feel is the power delivery which is very linear with the GT TSI in addition to the brilliant DSG and the wider turbo zone.

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Another area that I was let down by the Abarth was the engine/turbo note. I had expected the bigger turbo to emanate more of the turbo whistle which is so characteristic of the GT TSI. In fact I used to search for occasions to slot the GT TSI in sports mode on city streets and rev it to its red line just to hear that amazing turbo whistle (it only got louder as the revs built up) coupled with that sporty engine note. This actually used to cause pedestrians heads to turn to see what sort of a car it was. The turbo in the Abarth is audible when the car idles however as you rev the engine, the engine note becomes more prominent and it drowns down the turbo whistle. The engine note in the Abarth doesnít seem as mind blowing as the note in the GT TSI. Somehow the GT TSI with just a 105 horses had a more pleasing aural experience than what I had experienced from the Abarth.

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When I purchased the Abarth, fuel efficiency was the last thing on my mind. If Iím the kind of person who is concerned by my carbon footprint or how much fuel my car consumes then the Abarth is definitely the wrong vehicle for me. On my way back to Visakhapatnam from Vijayawada I decided to fill the fuel tank completely having expected the vehicle to guzzle all the fuel by the time I reach home. I drove about 190 kilometers on the highway and the fuel gauge dropped just a bit which actually surprised me. So I pulled into another gas station on the highway to top up the cars fuel tank again to see how much fuel was consumed and it was just 9.75 Liters. This was achieved by maintaining a steady speed not exceeding 110 km/hr and not redlining the car since the car is brand new and Iím trying to run her in. This sort of efficiency though achievable on the highway by driving with a light foot is not possible within the city even if you have the lightest possible foot. Besides you have to be crazy to purchase a car like this and not drive it the way it was intended to be driven. As per the ownerís manual the car needs 91 RON (minimum) so that shouldnít be a problem unlike the GT TSI which requires 95 RON minimum.

Conclusion

The Abarth Punto is a car which has a few quirks that you will have to live with on a daily basis. Things such as the awkward driving position, rubbery gearbox, not so great quality of plastics in the interiors and the cumbersome nature of the Abarth Puntoís city drivability could result in a lot of folks avoiding purchasing this car. But then it is an Abarth and itís not a car that is for everyone so a true enthusiast can live with these quirks. In comparison the GT TSI is more practical and it offers the best of both worlds that many consumers would prefer. In an ideal scenario a person like me would prefer to have a GT TSI to commute within the city and have the Abarth Punto for those special weekend road trips on highways, drives on ghat roads and tracks. However nothing in this world is ideal and the same applies to the automobile market in India as well. If you want something truly phenomenal then you will have to shell out really big bucks however here is a car that offers you something special despite a few shortcomings and I feel that people who expect more than just a car that can take you from A to B will actually go in for the Abarth Punto. The Abarth Punto is definitely not everyoneís cup of tea. While the GT TSI is a car that you can just slip into and have fun with, the Abarth Punto is more of a machine that you will have to understand and get used to. But once you get used to its nuances then you are in for the ride of your life because it will amaze you like no other car south of the 20 lakh mark in the market.

As I keep driving my Abarth Punto I am developing a keen interest in the car. I seem to be forgetting the quirks and enjoying the finer aspects of this car. While the GT TSI is akin to Floyd Mayweather Jr, I would say that the Abarth Punto is akin to Mike Tyson or Evander Holyfield. They are both awesome cars however based on the fact that I drive mostly within the city I feel that the TSI has a distinct advantage on city roads where it just flits through traffic in the blink of an eye thanks to all the torque being available at just 1500 rpm. The Abarth Punto is loud and if you are looking at maintaining a low profile on the roads you can just forget it because you will be the center of the universe once you get behind the wheel of this car. It not only has the engine/handling to put other cars in their place but it also has the looks that make you feel like you are driving something really special. I am really happy to have owned two amazing drivers cars in the last three years. I am now the proud owner of an Abarth Punto and just the second such specimen on the roads of AP as I write this review. All hail the new king of the road The Abarth Punto.

The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto-abarth-i-front.jpg

The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto-view-elevation-towards-rear.jpg

Last edited by GTO : 22nd March 2016 at 10:14. Reason: Lining up the last pic :). Thanks for sharing!
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Old 21st March 2016, 20:20   #2
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Default re: The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto

Quote:
Originally Posted by chase_nt View Post

I am now the proud owner of an Abarth Punto and just the second such specimen on the roads of AP as I write this review. All hail the new king of the road The Abarth Punto.
Congrats on your latest acquisition chase_nt and she is a true road runner, albeit a well built body builder sort !!

Visually, IMO Fiat must have offered the matte grey colour option along with another sporty choice. But one look at the White shade and it makes you feel like everything else can wait.

Quote:
The gearbox of the Abarth is another proverbial fly in the ointment. For a car with such prowess the gearbox simply lets the car down.

My initial reaction after getting behind the wheel of the Abarth was ďis this really 145 bhpĒ? The reason for this I feel is the power delivery which is very linear with the GT TSI in addition to the brilliant DSG and the wider turbo zone.
I had taken my wife for a TD of the Abarth soon after its launch and she felt this car was slower than my 1.6 GT TDI.
Well, she is anything but an auto enthusiast and this was purely her actual opinion based on the drive.

So yes, Abarth is quick but somehow it did not make me feel like that. In contrast, my GT, S-cross 320DDiS and Figo 1.5 TDCi feel quite crazy.

All said and done, Abarth is really a special hatch and like many Fiat fans, I only hope Fiat sorts out only 2 shortcomings (personally):

- Seating position (Just give a steering column that is adjustable for reach)
- Gearbox (Better slotting)

Wish you many happy mile munching, at least on this hatch buddy.
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Old 21st March 2016, 20:32   #3
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Default re: The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto

Nice lineup of cars you have driven. And congrats for your purchase of the baby beast. It is one of those cars which fits the tagline of Onida
Quote:
Owner's pride, Neighbours envy
And the mileage you have got, it is just stupendously good.

And I surely envy you for the car you've got. It is THE car to own if you want to express your love for cars. I wish I could but I just got my first job yesterday which pays me 30k per month. So, I will have to wait for buying an abarth.

On a side note, I quote Pawan Kalyan's dialogue from the movie Jalsa
"Are you doing a job or simply blackmailing the bosses" (to have a good salary and own so many good cars)
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Old 21st March 2016, 20:50   #4
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Default re: The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto

Superbly written review. Great read for people confused between the Polo TSI and the Abarth Punto. Congratulations on the Abarth and wish you many thousands of happy miles with it.
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Old 22nd March 2016, 10:32   #5
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Default Re: The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto

Many many congratulations for procuring the Scorpion!

It feels great to see an ownership review of one of India's hottest hatchbacks on an enthusiast forum, amidst boring everyday cars (no offence meant to boring car owners. For the record, I own a Grand i10 )

I loved going through your review. Not only is it well written, but it also echoed my experience with the Abarth Punto back when I had it to my disposal for a few days.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chase_nt View Post
In fact this is the second car that I have purchased without a test drive, the first being the GT TSI that I had owned prior to the Abarth (that was also a display vehicle).
Either you are relying on others' reviews too much or just love gambling. While I understand the hot hatchback allure which is intensified especially because of lack of options, I believe that a thorough TD is a must before parking your hard earned money on a car which you're practically going to live with for a few of years. Like you, I was in love with the Abarth Punto's power and driving dynamics but after driving it around in the city, sense prevailed, and I dropped the idea of getting one.

All said and done, I wish you thousands wide grins for all the times that you'll floor the pedal and/or push this little rocket around your favourite ghat sections. May the Abarth Punto serve you well.

Last edited by S2!!! : 22nd March 2016 at 10:34.
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Old 22nd March 2016, 12:03   #6
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Default Re: The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto

Here are some more photos of the Abarth that I was not able to upload yesterday.




The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto-abarth-elevated-front-view.jpg




The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto-another-angle-abarth.jpg




Notice the black bag like thing below the MID this is Abarths way of blocking out a nasty gap
The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto-abarth-console.jpg




Very Effective Automatic Air Conditioner
The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto-auto-air-conditioner-seems-very-effective.jpg



Boot space similar to the polo however the wheel arches intrude into the boot
The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto-boot-space.jpg




The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto-abarth-another-angle.jpg




Circular design side air vents
The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto-circular-air-vents.jpg




Central air vents with a small cubby hole on top for some nick knacks
The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto-central-air-vents.jpg




Only time will tell if these old fashioned chrome door handles are prone to scratches.
The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto-chrome-door-handles.jpg




Power Window switches seem to be placed too forward
The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto-controls-drivers-door.jpg




Cumbersome placement of dead pedal and other pedals.
The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto-cumbersome-placement-dead-pedal.jpg




A small provision on the drivers side for loose stuff such as coins etc.
The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto-drivers-side-change-holder.jpg




Front foot wells have these funky looking air vents.
The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto-foot-well-air-vents-front.jpg



Abarth recommends 91 RON or above for this engine.
The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto-fuel-filler.jpg




This glove box is really small it is literally meant for gloves.
The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto-glove-box-really-small.jpg




Hard to clean areas on the rear bumper (dust accumulation is inevitable).
The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto-hard-clean-areas-rear-bumper.jpg




In Car Entertainment Unit.
The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto-car-entertainment-unit.jpg



Dual Internal Lights.
The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto-internal-lights.jpg



Switches to access and cycle through main menu, console dimmer functions, headlamp beam adjustment and fog lamps.
The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto-main-menu-dimmer-switches-headlamp-beam-alignment-fog-lamp-switches.jpg




One Mid Range Speaker on all 4 doors.
The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto-mid-range-speaker.jpg




Tweeter location on the front doors.
The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto-tweeter-location-front-doors.jpg




Browsing through tracks and folders on the USB via the MID.
The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto-more-mid-options.jpg




Non Alloy Spare Wheel
The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto-non-alloy-spare.jpg




Non Illuminated Abarth Scuff plates in front.
The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto-non-illuminated-abarth-door-sills-front-doors.jpg



Very Small pockets in front doors (tough to place larger bottles).
The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto-pockets-front-doors-too-small.jpg




Comfy rear seats with ample cushioning.
The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto-rear-seats-comfy.jpg




Rear Reflector and fog lamp.
The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto-rear-reflector-fog-lamp.jpg



The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto-abarth-rear-view-lower-height.jpg



The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto-front-three-quarters.jpg



The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto-rear-three-quarters.jpg
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Old 22nd March 2016, 12:17   #7
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Default Re: The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto

Map Pocket provisions (Who uses maps in this age of GPS)
The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto-seat-pockets.jpg




Middle part of dashboard is soft touch plastic with a trail running through for the indoor ambient lighting.
The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto-soft-touch-part-dash-ambient-light-middle.jpg




Under hood insulation seems to be lesser than the GT TSI.
The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto-under-hood-insulation.jpg




The fly in the ointment
The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto-fly-ointment.jpg




View from the IRVM.
The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto-view-irvm.jpg




Rear windscreen offers better view than the GT TSI.
The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto-view-rear-inside.jpg




The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto-another-front-view.jpg




The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto-side-view.jpg




The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto-me-abarth.jpg
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Old 22nd March 2016, 12:18   #8
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Default Re: The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto

Excellent review, congratulations!

Quote:
Originally Posted by chase_nt View Post
On my drive back from Vijayawada I kept the car at a constant 110 km/hr in the 5th gear and I observed that the engine was revving at 2000 rpm which is exactly at the very beginning of the turbo zone
This RPM seems too low for a petrol. Are you sure? Even the team-bhp official review says "In terms of cruisability, 100 kph comes up at 2,300 rpm in 5th gear"

Last edited by PearlJam : 22nd March 2016 at 12:20.
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Old 22nd March 2016, 12:32   #9
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Default Re: The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto

Congratulations on the car.

You will, most probably, remain the only Bhpian to own the GT TSI and the Abarth, both simultaneously.
And that is when the Long Term ownership reviews from you will hold a lot of significance. It will provide most unbiased opinions & comparisons on both cars.

Thanks for the write up.
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Old 22nd March 2016, 12:38   #10
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Wow!!! What a review!! Congratulations! Thanks of sharing! Rated the thread a well deserved 5 stars.

If I were looking for a hot-hatch in the market right now, I would have picked Abarth, simply because it has a manual GB. But as I see more and more people excited with an AT, I thing I have to make an attempt to learn to drive an AT. Until now, I have not liked driving an AT, as I feel it boring and disconnected.

In my view, one major feature that Fiat has overlooked is the reach adjustment of the steering wheel. Also, better gear-shift would have helped city driving (I know that other things like clutch pedal modulation and turbo zone, also matters. But still). Also, see if removing the dead pedal helps?


Quote: "While the GT TSI is a car that you can just slip into and have fun with, the Abarth Punto is more of a machine that you will have to understand and get used to"

Maybe, because of this reason, some people feel TSI engine is character-less!!

Last edited by Chethan B G : 22nd March 2016 at 12:47.
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Old 22nd March 2016, 13:05   #11
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Default Re: The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto

Wow, now this is one thread that definitely deserves a 5 star rating. Many congratulations to you on owning this beauty, how i wish i could get my hands on one as well!!
Well you are definitely one of those rare owners who has got to own both the GT and the Abarth, so your comparison of the two is really really helpful to all those who have been comparing these cars forever.

And yes, your Abarth looks stunning in white! Wishing you many many happy miles of ownership with this monster! Cheers.
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Old 22nd March 2016, 13:07   #12
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Default Re: The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto

Kudos to a well written unbiased review on two cars. Have fun with your 'harem'.
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Old 22nd March 2016, 13:12   #13
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Default Re: The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vik0728 View Post
Visually, IMO Fiat must have offered the matte grey colour option along with another sporty choice. But one look at the White shade and it makes you feel like everything else can wait.


I had taken my wife for a TD of the Abarth soon after its launch and she felt this car was slower than my 1.6 GT TDI. So yes, Abarth is quick but somehow it did not make me feel like that. In contrast, my GT, S-cross 320DDiS and Figo 1.5 TDCi feel quite crazy.

All said and done, Abarth is really a special hatch and like many Fiat fans, I only hope Fiat sorts out only 2 shortcomings (personally):

- Seating position (Just give a steering column that is adjustable for reach)
- Gearbox (Better slotting)

Wish you many happy mile munching, at least on this hatch buddy.

Thanks Vik. Fiat will launch the Matte grey option after a few months. They will also add a few goodies such as touch screen infotainment system as well as rear parking sensors etc. Ideally I would have purchased the Abarth Punto in 2017 however I wanted to save a lot of money on extra levies that will come into effect soon and also the depreciation on my GT TSI if I wait for another year was at the back of my mind. The Abarth may be quick but it just doesn't feel that way after getting used to the GT. It could be because of its higher kerb weight. The short comings that you pointed out are the major flaws that need Fiat's attention.





Quote:
Originally Posted by aveemashfaq View Post
Nice lineup of cars you have driven. And congrats for your purchase of the baby beast. It is one of those cars which fits the tagline of Onida
And the mileage you have got, it is just stupendously good.

And I surely envy you for the car you've got. It is THE car to own if you want to express your love for cars. I wish I could but I just got my first job yesterday which pays me 30k per month. So, I will have to wait for buying an abarth.

On a side note, I quote Pawan Kalyan's dialogue from the movie Jalsa
"Are you doing a job or simply blackmailing the bosses" (to have a good salary and own so many good cars)

Congratulations are in order for having secured your first job. All you have to do now is slowly save up for your very own Abarth Punto.



Quote:
Originally Posted by S2!!! View Post
Many many congratulations for procuring the Scorpion!

It feels great to see an ownership review of one of India's hottest hatchbacks on an enthusiast forum, amidst boring everyday cars (no offence meant to boring car owners. For the record, I own a Grand i10 )

I loved going through your review. Not only is it well written, but it also echoed my experience with the Abarth Punto back when I had it to my disposal for a few days.



Either you are relying on others' reviews too much or just love gambling. While I understand the hot hatchback allure which is intensified especially because of lack of options, I believe that a thorough TD is a must before parking your hard earned money on a car which you're practically going to live with for a few of years. Like you, I was in love with the Abarth Punto's power and driving dynamics but after driving it around in the city, sense prevailed, and I dropped the idea of getting one.

All said and done, I wish you thousands wide grins for all the times that you'll floor the pedal and/or push this little rocket around your favourite ghat sections. May the Abarth Punto serve you well.

Thanks S2. I really wish I could've had a test drive of the GT TSI and The Abarth Punto before I purchased them. It is really annoying that dealers in small towns where sales volumes for such cars is abysmally low end up avoiding demo vehicles for such models. I was the first person in my town to have purchased the GT TSI back in 2013 and 3 years down the line I find a few GT TDI's however its hard to find another GT TSI in the entire town.



Quote:
Originally Posted by PearlJam View Post
Excellent review, congratulations!



This RPM seems too low for a petrol. Are you sure? Even the team-bhp official review says "In terms of cruisability, 100 kph comes up at 2,300 rpm in 5th gear"
Thanks PearlJam. The tachometer of the Abarth Punto has divisions for every 250 rpm (small dashes). I could've sworn that the tachometer was at 2000 rpm but then again it was a new car and I was driving back in the bright afternoon sun so I could've misjudged the exact rpm. Parallax error could be another factor. I remember that it was definitely below 2500 rpm because 500 rpm steps on the tachometer have slightly larger dashes. The next time I am out cruising I will check it out more clearly.



Quote:
Originally Posted by vinit.merchant View Post
Congratulations on the car.

You will, most probably, remain the only Bhpian to own the GT TSI and the Abarth, both simultaneously.
And that is when the Long Term ownership reviews from you will hold a lot of significance. It will provide most unbiased opinions & comparisons on both cars.

Thanks for the write up.

Thanks Vinit. I no longer own the GT TSI. I had it along with the Abarth Punto for 10 days. A few days ago I had delivered it to my relatives in Hyderabad who purchased the car from me.
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Old 22nd March 2016, 13:38   #14
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Default Re: The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto

Chase_NT,
Firstly congratulations on now owning probably the only ABARTH in vizag.

I would like to know how much of a hassle it was in buying the car in Vijayawada and then getting it registered in Vizag. I am from Vizag as well (though currently staying in Hyderabad). I always liked the FIAT PUNTO evo which I am contemplating as one of the options to buy this year end(other being Figo and swift/baleno) but the lack of dealership in Vizag is rather unconvincing.

Regards,
Surya Vamsi
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Old 22nd March 2016, 13:48   #15
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Default Re: The White Scorpion - Fiat Abarth Punto

Congrats on your purchase! It is a very well written review. It must have been a world of difference when you switched over from your GT to this car. Even though the design is some years old, it still grabs your attention on the road. Though personally, they could have done better with the sticker job. On the road, do you always need to keep the car in the >2000 rpm zone to extract the full potential of the engine? How does it perform in relaxed conditions? Is it a highway cruiser and can it cruise long distances without breaking into a sweat?

Noob question - Do they have any plan of launching an automatic transmission equipped variant for the Abarth Punto?
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