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Old 25th November 2010, 14:26   #1
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Default Finally we have our European beauty, Fiat Punto 1.4 E+. Christened Trinity.

Hi guys,

I have been looking forward to buy a car since ages. If I could go a bit OT here to give you a background of my love for cars, the first time i asked my dad for a vehicle was when I was 12, wanted to buy a scooty to go for my Karate classes and since then always was hooked on to automobiles.

1997 saw the launch of Opel Astra, and since that time my mind was focussed solely on europeans. Then came the Palio's, the sienna's and Petra's. The one car which I always wanted to own was the 1.6GTX/S10/1.6S and to this day I regret that I didnt get to drive it even once, let alone owning it. Dad didnt want to spend money on car as he wouldnt be using it and I was not old enough.

Its been 13 years since then, every car launched by FIAT,TATA,Opel was the one that I wanted to own. I used to and still do keep visually following the car passing by wishing I owned it. Left for further education to the UK and started getting neck sprains seeing the cars over there. I never really recovered when I saw that AM parked on the street, never have or never will ever see something as immaculate,serene like it. Still have a bit of sprain in my neck from that jerk though lol.

What attracted me and still does to Fiat is the fact that they were the ones who came out with cars that had alloys, ABS , Airbag, stunning looks. They were just way ahead of their time. And the fuel guzzler image created by the media and I guess the competitors , I realised was just an over blown issue when my first cousin bought a swift 5 years back. I asked him the mileage and he said 10 with the AC on and I was like what are the guys talking about when they say FIATs a guzzler at 9km/ltr. This just made me feel more proud and I started respecting Fiat even more. Especially since they stayed back here instead of ditching, leaving their customers in the lurch by pulling out of the country when the things went from bad to worse because of their after sales service and spares issues.

Anyways, came back home, started off with a job and then the urge to have a car hit me again. Bought a 86k km run,1995 Maruti ZenLX in 2008. To be honest the only creature comforts the car had was an AC and a music system and honestly I didnt require anything more. Its been 3 years and more than 10k kms since I bought that car and now her age is showing. The ride quality has gone for a toss and I can feel every smallest stone on the road, there are rattles in quite a few places, and she just feels so old. But boy oh boy, is she a hoot to drive in the city or what?

Buying a car was and still is a big thing for me as I have not yet settled down financially and there are quite a few outstanding payments to my parents which have to be taken care of. Nonetheless with my current sweetheart, old, a new one had to be bought and so began the test drives of different cars. Although I’m doing general test drives since past 10 years just for fun this was a new experience for me. The requirements were pretty simple.

a) The car needs to be spacious, I should be able to sit comfortably in the rear seat with the front seat, pulled back completely,

b) The rear should accommodate 3 in moderate to good comfort, since mine is a family of 5. although long trips with full occupancy are not so often, around 4-5 a year,

c) Impeccable and impressive highway cruiser. I love driving and there is nothing I would rather do more than drive. The only reason I have been holding back expressway drives for 3 years is as I am a bit insecure driving at those speeds in my Zen. So with the new car I was planning to have a good number of long drives to Pune, Kolhapur, Nashik ,Goa etc etc,

d) I specifically didn’t want a car where the 0-200 or 220 mentioned on the speedo was just more of a gimmick. I wanted a car with preferably 80+ bhp and whose chassis has enough strength to do justice to each of those bhps, a car which could actually go to 80% of the speeds mentioned on speedo without losing its composure or without making me lose mine.

e) Mileage was not a major concern, my Zen gives me 7-8 in the city, I always drive with the AC on.

If I want to travel from A-B in the cheapest possible way, If I want a cheapest maintenance costs, lot of service centres, amazing mileage so on and so forth, I would rather take the public transport. Period. 10-11Km/ltr in the city would be more than enough.

Keeping in mind the point d) above, the only options I had was to stick to the Europeans. But 3 pot engines were a strict no so out went polo and fabia. Polo 1.6 was a worthy contender but the transmission hump at the rear was a major put off for 5 people at the back and hence out it went the window. Had the car been used for only 2 people the Polo would have been the way to go .The gear shift is so awesome, crisp, precise that it makes you want to just keep shifting gears the whole day…I mean it. The best gear boxes I have ever tried out so far. The fabia 1.6 was also considered but the lack of certain basic features like rear de fogger and wash/wipe made me drop the fabia like a hot potato, didn’t bother to test drive either of them. I didn’t want to get my preference towards the Europeans in between the way of making a logical and rational decision and hence the test drives were taken for the following cars.

1) Punto 1.4,
2) Vista 1.2,
3) Micra,
4) Beat,
5) I 20.

Since this post is getting too long I ll post in parts

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Last edited by n_aditya : 25th November 2010 at 18:28.
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Old 25th November 2010, 15:44   #2
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Default The test drives

Continuing from where I had left last time, I ll get to the test drives,

1) Punto 1.4-

Pros-

1)There is already a Linea E+ in the house so Im used to the solid feel, the sturdiness, high speed stability even post 165km/hr,

2) Steering feed back, handling of FIAT, and the Punto felt no different (HPS is a must in the car)

3) The pick up was acceptable , the poise was great, driving manners- impeccable. Is the Punto as good as the Linea at high speeds, and at masking the speeds as well?

4) The set of features are simply unbeatable.

5) Boot space is decent enough to carry out weekend luggage for 4 people.

6) The "thunk" when I close the doors makes me feel very very safe and secure.

7) The car I test drove was a 6k + run kms. The engine had opened up really well and ,after test driving previous Punto’s with low mileage, this one felt like a pocket rocket. Seems the engine is completely different after it opens up.

Cons-

1)Rear bench width is poor compared to the size of the car, but considering my seating position the space in front and rear was better then the i20

2)The rear legroom itself is pretty meager compared to the size of the car but after finding a middle ground kind of seat position, both myself and the passenger sitting behind me were comfortable..

3)The drivers seat was very sports car like, holding and hugging me. I personally prefer more spacious and wider seat. The under thigh support in both the front and rear seats is good though,

4)The view thru RVM is really poor.


2)Vista 1.2

Pros-

1) Space Space and more space. Im 5'-9" and with the driver seat pulled back completely I was having a tough time in pressing the pedals all the way , and it was pretty ok on the rear seat.

2) Lot of glass area- The cabin feels much more spacious than it actually is.

3) The seats are wide and comfortable, though on longer trips I would prefer the firmer Punto's seats,

4) Feature set is really good at the price range.

Cons-

1) The car feels sturdier than its japanese and Korean counter parts, body roll distinct even in turns at speed of 80. Its no Punto. With people on board I wouldnt dare cross 100-120 on the highways.

2) Woefully underpowered engine, but with the Vista 90 just round the corner, the power factor will be taken care of.

3) Boot space has been clearly compromised for giving better legroom inside,

4) The rear end looks soo sad, especially the light cluster looks a bit tacky. The front end is simply awesome though.


3) Micra 1.2

Pros-

1) The size of the car does not do justice to the space inside. Its more or less as good as the Vista,

2) Cool features like electric mirror close, start stop button etc.

3)Tall 2nd gear is a boon for city driving. The engine was not at all strained even at 80 in the 2nd gear,

4) The dash is refreshing than the one on other hatches.

5)RVM visibility is really good.

Cons-

1) The car is a 3 cylinder. The noise becomes quite audible post 80km/hr. From my experience, I assume the engine would run out of steam by 100-120km/hr.

2)No driver seat height adjust even on the top variant,

3) Rear seats are like a flat bench, not much of a thigh support,would be a concern on long drives,

4) Boot space,

4) Beat 1.2

Pros-

1) Funky external design is cool,

2) Seats 4 very comfortably, rear bench width and leg room is good,


Cons-

1) The instrument console is simply a no go for me. Im a conservative person when it comes to cars and all the funkiness from outside is carried to the inside. I just need 4 dials man,Speedo, RPM,Fuel and temp. Found it very difficult to see whats going on where

5) i 20

Pros-

1) Very nice design and a planted stance,

2) Equipment level is good,

3)Boot space is decent

4)Front seat pretty comfortable.

Cons-

1) Gear shift was bad, really rubbery and gooey, maybe it was an over used test car,

2) No offence meant to any i20 owners , but after Punto the steering was simply dead and way too light, I have driven more than 10k kms in the past 2 years including night drives, early morning drives with the glare of the trucks and transport vehicles in my eyes post vashi, but manoeuvring this car was scary, I was not getting the hang of the steering. I don’t know how to put it forth ,but the feeling was very vague and also I felt I had no connection to the road ,whilst sitting inside the car.

3)The angle of the rear seat is just between vertical and slightly acute and I wasnt too happy with the posture.

4) The dash colour combo was a big put off,

5) rear legroom was not good.


Post the test drives i20, beat were out of the window. and micra is almost out , just hanging by a thread here. My choices have come down to the Vista and Punto. I am waiting for the 90 hp Vista to be launched so i can TD it before finalising the car.

Its was going to be a very very tough choice as both the Vista and Punto are excellent in their USPs.I need both high speed ride handling and cornering and good space . know I cant have my cake and eat it too though. If all goes well, looking for the purchase in December to avail the end of the year sales.

Oh and I forgot to mention, Looking to keep the car for atleast 5-6 years.

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Last edited by n_aditya : 25th November 2010 at 18:27.
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Old 26th November 2010, 11:37   #3
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Mihir: Glad that you have begun the test drives. Out of the bunch, i would honestly recommend the Punto to you. Its a really fun car to drive and she gobbles up any potholes for breakfast, lunch & dinner! Plus the fact that it gives great mileage too. I wouldnt recommend the other ones you stacked up against it. The only formidable car you have missed is the Jazz. Mind you, keep the price factor aside, the Jazz is an intelligent car, though a little stiffer on the suspension side, but simply great otherwise. Why dont you check it out? Discounts are still continuing.
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Old 26th November 2010, 12:16   #4
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Default The story continues

I had postponed the purchase of the car till Jan due to some unavoidable expenditures in the family. Was roaming around the FIAT stand at the ACI expo on the 20th as there was no other stall worth a look, honestly. There this sales guy came to me and introduced himself as Pratik. Seems he had seen me in Concorde motors Prabhadevi many a times , so we got talking about the Punto and he informed that just 2 days back, he sold off a August 2010 model Punto with a discount of 30 K over the alrerady available discount of 30 K (thats 60 k total). It was like a punch in my guts. Knocked the wind out of me. I told him to keep me posted just in case they come across any older Punto's. He confirmed he would call me on Monday, 22nd Nov

Monday came and still no call by lunch. Finally called him and he informed there was no car available and all that jazz, he couldnt give much discount on the current cars and all that jazz again. I asked him to speak to his senior and get back to me.

6.15 in the evening that day I get a call from him saying there is a Dec 2009 manufactured and delivered to stock yard in March 2010 Punto E+ and the discount that he can give on the same is 60K+30k standard insurance off discount, thats a whopping 90 k. Fixed an appointment with him for evening the next day.

Will write about it in the next post as dont want to make one lengthy boring post

Last edited by MihirC : 26th November 2010 at 12:19.
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Old 26th November 2010, 12:25   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coolmel View Post
Mihir: Glad that you have begun the test drives. Out of the bunch, i would honestly recommend the Punto to you. Its a really fun car to drive and she gobbles up any potholes for breakfast, lunch & dinner! Plus the fact that it gives great mileage too. I wouldnt recommend the other ones you stacked up against it. The only formidable car you have missed is the Jazz. Mind you, keep the price factor aside, the Jazz is an intelligent car, though a little stiffer on the suspension side, but simply great otherwise. Why dont you check it out? Discounts are still continuing.
Well I agree the only formidable rival is the Jazz , but it loses out heavily on the price point versus features and more importantly, high speed ride and handling capabilities.

The Punto on the other hand might not be as peppy and zippy to drive around the town till the engine clocks 6-7k kms but post that its like a new car altogether, its responsive and zippy and like you rightly said it gobbles potholes and roads for breakfast lunch and dinner. I had the goodluck to test drive cars with barely 2-3k on the odo as well as those with 6-8 k and I could feel the immense difference in the engines.

Post discounts also the Jazz is for around 8.xxL OTR and that way over my budget dude. What car do you drive? and hey, Thanks

Last edited by MihirC : 26th November 2010 at 12:27.
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Old 26th November 2010, 12:49   #6
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Originally Posted by MihirC View Post
The Punto on the other hand might not be as peppy and zippy to drive around the town till the engine clocks 6-7k kms but post that its like a new car altogether, its responsive and zippy and like you rightly said it gobbles potholes and roads for breakfast lunch and dinner. I had the goodluck to test drive cars with barely 2-3k on the odo as well as those with 6-8 k and I could feel the immense difference in the engines.
Mihir, you are bang on there. You dont have to wait that long though. Post 3K kms itself you will see a defnite marked difference in the peppiness of the engine and feel like a completely different car. But the fun starts from there on. It continues to get better as you drive more. My car has clocked 17K kms and I would say an absolute delight to drive.

One thing I dont understand is the swift owners which use the same FIAT MJD engine say that their cars feel very peppy right from day one of purchase. Note sure what magic the maruti guys do.
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Old 26th November 2010, 13:13   #7
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Congrats Mihir, siblings are going to love being next to each other

^ IMHO Fiat engines are tuned for a linear power delivery and conversely for Maruti. That could be the reason.
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Old 26th November 2010, 13:59   #8
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Originally Posted by gopikb View Post
Mihir, you are bang on there. You dont have to wait that long though. Post 3K kms itself you will see a defnite marked difference in the peppiness of the engine and feel like a completely different car. But the fun starts from there on. It continues to get better as you drive more. My car has clocked 17K kms and I would say an absolute delight to drive.

One thing I dont understand is the swift owners which use the same FIAT MJD engine say that their cars feel very peppy right from day one of purchase. Note sure what magic the maruti guys do.
I guess its got something to do with the gear ratios, engine tuning and gear box. How has your car been till now, no major troubles I hope. Cant wait for the PDI and then delivery
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Old 26th November 2010, 14:06   #9
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Congrats Mihir, siblings are going to love being next to each other

^ IMHO Fiat engines are tuned for a linear power delivery and conversely for Maruti. That could be the reason.
Hahahaha, I agree with you on the MSIL and fiat engines comment.

Well that was one of the subconcious intentions. Shooting pics with the 2 ladies side by side. The only thing is one will be one is flamenco red while the yet to come is Electric blue. Thanks NutsnBolts.
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Old 26th November 2010, 14:08   #10
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Default The story continues........

Went there with my FIL. Test drove the Punto AGAIN. The rev happy nature of this Punto blew me to smithereens man. A small push to the accelerator and it just took off, almost similar to that of my 93 Zen, but not quite there. Almost made me feel the ECU was kind of remapped.

Sat down to work out the deal, My FiL was to negotiate the money where as I was to bargain on the accessories as well as on a few technical issues. I would like to tell you guiys here, that my immediate family has bought more than 5 cars in the Past 3 years from this showroom, the last 2 ones being a Vista and a Linea, so the Team leader ,Ganesh knew my FIL well. He being Pratiks TL was an added bonus, the showroom was almost shut and We started the negotiations with both of them. We informed him that since the car was a year old, we would have to bear the 20% Depreciation , and why should we right ::V ?He agreed after a bit of brainstorming and in addition to that point just because we have been a repeat customer time and again, he gave a further 15K discount on top of the previously informed discount. WOW. Then after a fair bit of haggling , he came down by a further 3k. And then said that ,I cant do even a single paisa more. Fine I said, we dont want a single paisa more of discount but then lets do start with the accessories

The standard offer of free mudflaps and matressess along with sunfilm was dished out to us. I pushed them about parking sensors, anti rust treatment and door sill plates(scuff plates). I asked him to do away with the sunfilm and give in the rest. After some discussion he agreed. So here is the total break up of the offer.

Current OTR- 7.03L
Cash discount- 1.18L
Parking sensor- 0.04L
AntiRust - 0.04L
Scuffplates
Mudflaps and - 0.02L
mattressess
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Total Discount- 1.28L
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Total OTR - 5.75L

I do have a few concerns which I ll share with you guys sometime in the evening, have to prepare for an important meeting now

Last edited by MihirC : 26th November 2010 at 14:21.
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Old 26th November 2010, 14:30   #11
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How has your car been till now, no major troubles I hope. Cant wait for the PDI and then delivery
Hi Mihir, Absolutely. I have visited the TASS only twice - once for the 3K service and the next one for the 15K service. The car has been performing exceptionally well and in difficult terrains too. You wont regret it and am sure it is going to serve you loyally for the next 5~6 years
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Old 26th November 2010, 14:52   #12
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Congrats. Good selection. My 1.4 E Punto has done 920 km and tomy surprise I am feeling now that the engine become rev friendly. With a small push it simply touches 3K mark. It will become more rev friendly after 4-5 K. One advantage I found with this vehicle is that it had two distinct charecteristic. It can be show you a DW with a relaxed drive<3K on rpm and will totally turn in to a different car once you take in to performance mode. Thanks to the drive-by-wire.
Quote:
Originally Posted by gopikb View Post
One thing I dont understand is the swift owners which use the same FIAT MJD engine say that their cars feel very peppy right from day one of purchase. Note sure what magic the maruti guys do.
Fiat has programmed in such a way that it consume less fuel in lower gears(according to sales person when I asked thesame question). reduce the speed from 100 to 60 and then try to accelerate in 5th gear then one gets the practicality of MJD engine.

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Old 26th November 2010, 15:32   #13
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Hi Mihir, Absolutely. I have visited the TASS only twice - once for the 3K service and the next one for the 15K service. The car has been performing exceptionally well and in difficult terrains too. You wont regret it and am sure it is going to serve you loyally for the next 5~6 years
Thats cool man.and I do intend to keep the car for atleast 6 yrs. My only concern was the electricals in the Punto nothing else.
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Old 26th November 2010, 18:07   #14
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Default My concerns and a Test drive again.

My only concern is that the car is in the yard for almost and year, though they have confirmed that a recent PDI was carried out without any issues. Anyways will check it up when I go to the stock yard soon. Keeping my fingers crossed that the car has really been kept in a good condition.

Took a test drive again today with my mom dad and wife and the car just impressed me so much the way it absorbs pot holes the way it handles and most importantly the way the engine responds after opening up. Mom and dad loved it to bits. Infact Pratik was kind enough to let us take a test drive from Portuguese church dadar to worli seaface and back to Portuguese church and then back to the showroom, that’s almost 4-5 kms.

The only issue for me was that the car was available only in Electric blue colour. I was hoping for a med grey or exotica red instead, though that’s just a personal choice. Also the parking sensors are available only in black, nothings close to the blue colour. I feel it will look ugly , what do you think guys?? Or should I just choose function over form and shut up?

Need your advice.

Will be going to the stockyard tomorrow for the PDI. Will keep you guys posted. My fingers and toes are crossed :-)

Last edited by MihirC : 26th November 2010 at 18:09.
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Old 26th November 2010, 19:23   #15
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If parking sensors are a must for you then you must accept function over form and be happy. Else you can check aftermarket ones, they do come in different colors.
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