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Bought a used Fiat Punto Evo over the Maruti Swift: My experience

This is the closest to a German hatch on the highways, both in terms of stability and frugality.

BHPian monnish.k recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

Back story

It was back in 2013, I Was a 12-year-old kid who was interested in cars more than cartoons. We had an i10 in our house which we all loved and cherished. Every time we crossed a certain street Mom and I drooled over a light blue Linea, I still remember it used to have a yellow-colored diesel sticker on the fuel cap. My mom who was never interested in cars loved the design of the linea (she has good taste  ). Fast forward to 2015 we lost our i10 to the Chennai floods and were left without a car till 2024. We didn’t need a car as Ola and Uber were booming and cabs were cheap at that time. coming forward to 2022 we felt the need for a car and decided to get one. The enthusiast side of me kicked in and I took my sister to test drive the i20 N-line DCT. After a five-minute test drive my sister was already convinced and we started the N-line buying process. The car costs 14lakh on-road Chennai and it was way out of our budget. We managed to increase the down payment and convinced ourselves to pay the extra EMI every month. Everything went well and then I suddenly got a call from an automotive publication in Pune offering me an internship which I had applied to. I got super happy and sad at the same time, on the happier side I got to work my dream job and on the sad side, I had to cancel my car booking. So with a heavy heart, I cancelled my booking and moved to Pune.

After 6 months of working my dream job, I had to quit because of the “non-toxic office environment”. I was back in Chennai and the urge to get a car was over the roof! New cars were straight ruled out as my perspective changed. I found investing 15 lakhs in a car and paying EMI’s for 7 years would make me stick to the same car for 7-10 years which would have been a financial and mental disaster. So, what is the next best option? Used cars! I surfed many online used cars sites and visited one car a week but most of the cars were rejected either because of the condition or the asking price. After months of searching, I found this 2015 Punto Evo sport with around 71k clicks. Spoke to the guy, visited the car on a sunday, and finished the deal on a Wednesday. Coincidently I got the car home on the same date I got my R15 (sold) home!

The car had to get a wheel speed sensor changed which the seller did and I picked the car from Expert Spanners Omr. They delivered the car with lots of dirt and mud so straight up went to Focal Car Care in Anna Nagar for a wash and to remove the fake Abarth sticker in the boot. The AC vents had lots of dirt in them which made us cough while driving from Omr to Annanagar. The guys at Focal Car Care did an AC vent cleaning service even without asking us for free which made my parents’ first drive of the new-to-us car memorable ( it was memorable for me and my sister in a bad way cough cough ). I really liked the attitude of the boys at Focal Car Care as they gave attention to every small detail even to my car (they work on lots of premium cars). My mom never really gets excited for materialistic things but once she saw the shining red nugget she started smiling as we approached our gate.

Cars considered

  • Swift zdi - this was my first preference but got rejected due to over-inflated market price.
  • Figo 1.5 TDCI - Another gem of a car searched extensively for one but was disappointed as I saw nearly 4 cars, and every one of them had an issue.
  • Punto evo 1.3mjd - I found this to be an all-rounder but parts availability was a concern.
  • Polo 1.5 or 1.6 Tdi - the polo never really impressed me but had a lookout for them.

Requirement

After seeing the considered cars you might have judged me! Yes, I was looking for a diesel hatch that I could drive daily without spending much on fuel. The other reason for considering a hatch is because I didn’t have parking at my house and would have to park it outside.

Living with the punto

Ahh what do I say, I’ve started to love the car day by day once I found a way to solve its shortcomings. The 1.3mjd with the 5-speed gearbox is a pain to drive in bumper-to-bumper traffic, but once you let the car loose on open highways you’ll see the brilliant highway capabilities of this little hatch. This is the closest to a German hatch on the highways, both in terms of stability and frugality. On my last Circuit de Pondy run (Pondicherry through ECR route) I averaged about 21kmpl with 4 adults on board. Another good and bad thing about the car is the steering wheel, The feedback is great but the steering is very heavy and the turning radius is high compared to modern cars. The heavy steering has made me hate my friend’s cars as most modern hatches under 10 lakhs don’t offer the feel and feedback that this decade-old car provides. The icing on the cake is the suspension, the car is still running on its OEM suspension that came from the factory and it works well even after doing 70k clicks. It is a bit on the stiffer side and absorbs potholes like an SUV. Rattling is something I was worried about while getting an old car but this punto hasn't rattled till now which shows how good the built quality is. Another thing all my passengers have said is they feel safe inside the car compared to their Swift and i20s just because of how heavy the car feels.

Enough with the good stuff, every movie has a villain, right? In this case, the punto evo has multiple villains.

First and the most obvious thing is servicing. Chennai has 2 Jeep service centers and 2 authorized 3rd party fiat service centers, iam sad to say both options are disappointing. Vtk Jeep doesn't pick up calls and they don’t even bother to call back, expert spanners are always full (so full that they had to park customers' cars on the service lane).

After going through the forum I found World of Service in Porur which the owner claimed to be a fiat specialist garage. I reached out to them and dropped my car only to be disappointed again.

They went through the car and gave me a quote of 77k. I saw the quote and my heart skipped a beat. I went there and collected my car back as the labour rates with super high. And the quote they sent seems to be fishy as the alternator of the car works well and the starter motor too. They mentioned a hose needed to be replaced at demanded 5k for it but the part cost 1200rs and was replaced for 700 when my mechanic did the timing( later I procured all the parts and got the job done from an expert mechanic who runs a garage near Ambattur and is quite famous for fiat diesels) All the parts and labour costed me around 34k in which I had done some extra work also.

The rear seat is a bummer as 3 people can't fit in it and the legroom is minimal. Part availability is not an issue as such because I’ve found stores that stock up on fiat parts.

Another savior is the option to cross-shop parts, since the engine was shared between Fiat, Tata, and Suzuki most of the maintenance parts can be interchanged.

The punto is a heavy car and that takes a toll on fuel efficiency. A Swift with the same engine returns 16kmpl inside the city while mine returns 11-13 kmpl when I have a light foot, but hey you can’t have everything without losing stuff right?

Preventive Maintenance done

I am a huge believer in the concept of Preventive maintenance from the day I started doing DIY on my bikes. With the Fiat, I replaced every fluid in the car including the windshield washer, replaced all engine and transmission mounts, and the timing chain was replaced even though my mechanic said there was zero sound from the chain and it may run for another 10k KMS easily. All the wiper blades were changed and a weather strip was missing so I replaced that also.

While the car was being worked on I found the intake was fully blocked with carbon particles so I insisted my mechanic to clean off the intake and EGR which later made a big difference in the way the engine revved. The intercooler was not cleaned as one of the hoses needed to be changed and I couldn’t source the part.


I am planning to slowly start building the car to be the best daily driver as well as an engaging weekend car. I’ve given myself 10k km to understand what the car lacks and will start the mods once Iam confident enough.

Basic mods planned

First is better sun films. I had zero budget so went to a local place in General Platters Road in Chennai and did basic 50% sunfilms which basically does nothing. The front windshield has lots of minute scratches so once I change it I’ll get good quality sunfilms from Focal Car Care.

Better audio system

The head unit is an aftermarket one which does the job but the speakers are terrible so once I save up a good amount of vitamin M I’ll upgrade them too.

Tyres

The car came shod with verdestine tires on all four wheels, The threads on the inner side of the tyre have worn off due to faulty alignment. Planning to upgrade to better tyres that offer less road noise.

I guess this sums up my initial ownership review of my Fiat Punto Evo.A special mention to @CrAzYdRiVeR. His detailed thread helped me to gain knowledge about the car and gave me the confidence to get one. I haven't got time to shoot the car properly will post more images later.

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