Join Date: Feb 2016
| | A Letter To Fiat India From a Group of True Enthusiasts
Dear FIAT India,
This is a letter from a small group of desperate FIAT admirers & and long-time customers, who are tired of waiting for a perfect car from you, to switch. Our existing old Punto, Linea ride & handling have crept so deep into our nerves that we wish not to switch to other brands. Our desperation reflects the whole base of your customers across India. While the Italians, Brazilians and British have been enjoying new and innovative features from FIAT, we Indians are deprived of that so long.
When the Punto and Linea were launched in India, they were ahead of their time in features and design. There were very few luxury cars that had it all at that time. Also the striking unique Italian design made the FIAT cousins stand out of the crowd. But those cars had few major problems like rubbery gear shifts, late turbo, poor interior fit and finish and tall gear ratio.
Now, after 7 years what has changed? Front face design, good improvement in dashboard fit-finish quality and nothing more notorious. While other brands, have gone leaps and bounds in changing features and overall design in this period, FIAT chose to take just baby steps.
In the recent years, there is a change in buying pattern. On an average, 5 out of 10 cars sold are top end models of that car, while five years ago it was just 2 out of 10 (statistics from Hyundai sales team). Middle class has started to spend for convenience and they are choosing features over money. Even entry segment cars are getting features.
Where does FIAT stand here and who buys a FIAT, when they have other better options to go? Well, that elite few are those who chose, better ride over features. A handful of others chose this brand for the insane offers that you give all through the year, spoiling the brand image. If the face design hadn’t undergone changes, the FIAT ship would have stalled in mid sea by this time.
What does a perfect car mean according to us ‘The Middle-Class’ Indians and why we go after i20s, Swifts, Polos, Ventos, Vernas etc.,? Since you had ‘presumably’ shutdown your market research division and been building cars within four walls, let us tell what we masses actually want. We are talking only about the fully loaded, top end or whatever term that customers call it, models of the car.
Hyundai cars are equally good looking with best in class look and feel interiors with lots of features. Never mind the soft ride though. VW has brand image, where the owners feel that they own luxury and quality for the price they have paid. Never mind the recalls though. Same goes for Honda. Maruti is an exception here, which gives a perception that it’s cheap to maintain (which really is NOT..! A 45000 kms service for a diesel Swift costs average Rs.18k while the same in FIAT Punto costs Rs.20k..also the service interval for FIAT is long).
Coming out from TATA partnership was a good move, but not enough work was done to improve brand image in India. When we say FIAT, people don’t realize that brand FIAT is as valuable and as bigger as VW. All they can think of is Uno and Palio. Reason? Number of units sold speak for it.
Punto Abarth was a missed chance for building brand image. It’s a well-known fact that Abarth will be bought either by die-hard petroheads for whom superb ride alone is enough (constitutes less than 5% of auto enthusiasts) or only by creamy layer of the middle class who would expect premium features along with it. The former case worked out, while it failed to attract the latter. Result? Brand image still stays the same.
As automobile enthusiasts, it hits right in our hearts, to see renowned car reviewers suggest other brands, when compared to a FIAT car of same segment. It makes us think if we Indian petroheads are real enthusiasts or just talking sheeps, who go after so-called reputed brands at end of the day, just because they give us more features and perception of quality for money.
Enough of long facts. Let us tell you now, what we expect in upcoming launches (top end models), possibly from “Avventura Urban Cross” production version. This could/would be a game changer for FIAT. Most of the features mentioned below, already exist in outgoing Punto, Linea and Urban Cross Concept.
Tried, tested and Trustworthy..!
90hp multijet engine - tuned for early turbo - enabling smoother city rides
Reworked gear to make it sharp and sporty (like in a SWIFT). No more rubbery shifting gears, ‘we beg’.
• Rear Disc brakes. We need that badly, because we have the most dangerous roads to drive. Emergency strikes us many times and we need the confidence to react.
• Rear parking sensors with camera view combination (A must needed feature for urban jungle). (Currently exists in models across the world, except India)
• DRLs (Not just for cosmetic purpose but for real usage on dreaded narrow state highways here).
• Optional Xenon Projector headlamps, enabling longer light throw and more visibility at dark.
(Which could be fitted at dealership on request). Would be a boon for frequent night riders.
• Cruise control a must, to avoid fatigue for frequent long distance travelers.
• Auto-headlamps and Auto-wipers, again a must for long riders, driving through different times of the day.
• On unlocking, provide better visibility around car at dark with either dedicated lights or by switching on the headlamps.
• On Locking, roll up all windows, which is a must need to avoid giving chance for theft.
• OVRM auto-close and auto-open during lock/unlock to enable parking at tight spaces and a switch to control the same when needed, enabling drive on pencil narrow urban roads.
• Possibly fit 17 inch alloy wheels, for a higher/bulky stance and ground clearance, making it stand out from the crowd. Wider tires to absorb the vibrations and glide over rough roads.
• Possibly install TPMS (Tire pressure monitoring system) – (Currently exists in models across the world, except India)
Features Convenience and Looks:
• Driver hand rest in Punto, is a must for a relaxed ride
• A sporty Steering Wheel.
• A high-resolution Infotainment system with navigation and rear camera view.
• Keyless, Engine push start (nobody wants to take the keys out of pocket these days), enabling keyless entry/exit and hatch release.
• Replace the amber car information system on speedo console with larger lcd display.
• Dual 'Contrast-tone' Interiors - with multiple color options.
• Interior ambient lighting (doors, dashboard and foot-rest), for better visibility inside the car, while not affecting/disturbing the driver's view out. Improves aesthetic looks.
• Chrome inserts on dashboard.
All of these, priced under Rs.11 lakhs on-road. To keep the price under, localize spares and do the math.
Lower models could have a selected combination of the above said features for lower pricing.
We are not sure how many of the above said features is possible to incorporate. But we wish to have all the safety features.
So, dear FIAT, We pray that you give us a premium urban car that can zip through traffic, cruise on highways and conquer the rough roads while providing us the safety and convenience that we need. Because you are the only one, whom we ‘The Middle class’ enthusiasts can trust upon. We are waiting…!
We hope this letter reaches top and wide levels.