Hello all. This is my first post in TAI
I am a software engineer based on Trivandrum, Kerala. and not a technical expert when it comes to cars. But I love to learn more about automobiles and loves driving than anything else.
My ownership thread is about a used car, not a new one – 2012 Punto Active.
I owned a Swift, that too a used car. Swift VDI had clocked 70000km on odo, when I bought it. I have used it for 1.5 years and the odo reads at 1,10,000 when I sold it. The reason to sell the car was I got an onsite opportunity from my company. But after I sold my Swift, it got canceled and the need for a car arises. I again stick with a used car as my budget is around 3.5lacs and I will get only EON / Alto K10 etc .. for the budget if I am looking for a new car. I can't bear with these cars after driving a Swift. Also I am not at all interested to take loan. So my hunt started. I was looking only for Swift/Ritz that too only diesel. I don't like petrol as I am lazy (I love crawling in traffic than control ABC pedals together) and petrol cars won't match my long running(30,000 km a year-not bad I guess B-) ). Used Car hunt:
Didn't considered the below cars first for the reasons mentioned.
[Note: No offense meant to any of the below car owners. These are just my observations :)]
Figo - Didn't like diesel engine noise and low ground clearance and some threatened me about high service costs of Ford.
Polo - Won't get a descent used car in my budget. I didn't like rear legroom and higher transmission tunnel. Another reason, even in 1st gear the Polo has Turbo lag. Weird !!. I noticed this when I drove a Polo with 5 on board and the road was a slight slope. At the same situation Swift/Punto will go easily in First gear or with little lag in Second gear.
Micra/Pulse - Not easily available in used car market for my budget.
Punto - My aunt is having a 2009 model Punto. But I never drove that. In fact me and my cousin will be kidding Punto when it reaches the gate, the engine clattering noise will be heard inside the home and I will shout to my parents "Ahh...Aunty came :P". I was not interested in Punto as I was not aware of the brand and also due to very low sales. But I loved the looks of Punto. Even when aunty decided to buy Punto back in 2009, I advised "Why you are buying Punto, you can get a Swift or Figo". To that her daughter(my another cousin) replied, "Swift is seen anywhere around and in looks wise no match to Punto, and Figo - engine is not powerful and refined. Punto has got best engine and good handling capabilities". At that time I laughed at her in my mind.
i20 - Again, I won't get a good car with this budget. One thing I didn't liked about i20 is, unlike the Swift/Punto, we have to press the accelerator if there is slight slope in the road, otherwise it will stall (Petrol car like behavior, which I really don't like). I came across this twice when I drove my uncle's i20 (They may thought that I am not a good driver :( )
Now started looking in used car showrooms and searching in OLX for used Ritz/Swift. To my surprise these used car dealers are quoting very high prices for Swift as the demand is high. A 2009 model 75,000 km Swift Vdi will cost you 3.6lac rupees at least, whereas you can get a 2011 model Ritz with around 50,000km ran in the same price. Then I ruled out Swift, as I am not ready to pay more money simply due to the higher demand for Swift. So then I searched only for Ritz. I saw an ad in OLX - 2012 Model 54,000 km ran Ritz for 3,65,000. Seems like a good deal and visited the car. It was in good condition and with a neat service history. Talked with the owner and fixed the deal. Next day I was about to make the payment. But alas, I got a call from the owner stating that he is not going to sell his car now. Again back to zero. The turning point (Ritz to Punto):
The search started again. Now I included Punto & Figo also in the search. To my surprise Puntos & Figos are priced really lower than the Maruti Suzuki twins. Now I thought, lets break the belief only in MS, why don't I try a new brand. Then started searching in Google about Fiat Punto. Read some good reviews in other online forums. That was the turning point. I have read many ownership reports and really good positive feedback from the owners. Yes, there are usual niggles, but it doesn't let down any of the owners. I already fell in love with Punto and I confirmed my next car will be Fiat Punto, even without driving the car at least once.
Then after a lot of research, I zeroed down to one 2012 Punto Active - Exotica Red. The owner was abroad and that's why he wants to sell the car. Of coarse he is also a proud owner of his Punto. The car was in Ernakulam, which is 250km far from my home. One day I went to test drive the car in my bike. I reached there by noon and called his brother, And I saw the red beauty from long, I would say Punto is really gorgeous in Exotica Red. He handed over the key to me and I get into the driver seat and closed the door - Wow! That Thud everyone said was really impressive which would make us feel the car is solid and, yes the car is really solid. The different vertical key insertion is nice. Then I cranked. Nice... I have expected more engine noise, but it is less inside the cabin. Then I drove the car for 2-3 kms, and really fell in love with the drive. But I didn't like the gear shifts and long clutch travel. But the real surprise to me was the brakes. Swift VDI without ABS
(which I drove before) is a big down when it comes to braking. I have consulted different service centers and complained about braking. But the replies were all same "We can't do anything with the brakes, this is as expected". I was very much disappointed. Swift was launched before 7 years, and till now the manufacturer doesn't take any steps to solve the braking issue for diesel models. Even my cousin complained that he too have problem with brakes while reversing the car (2012 model VXI). When checked in showroom, they said, it was a known issue and an ECU problem, but still not resolved. Pathetic !!
Back to the testdrive. I remember in one of the famous auto channel video review, some reviewer says about Punto Evo - "It looks gorgeous and if you really want the best looking hatchback, you have to buy the Punto Evo. But if you are looking for a powerful hatchback, then go for the Swift". That statement was one of the reasons for not considering Punto initially. But after test driving the Punto, I am surprised how could a well known reviewer could easily say Punto is not powerful as Swift, that too a 90hp Punto. He could have said like "Punto's initial acceleration is not good as Swift or the 0-100 figures are not good as Swift". These statements and the statement he made are entirely different and misleading. Weird !!
During the short test drive I have also noticed that the Engine sound is low in 2012 models when compared to the earlier ones, I am particularly looking for post 2012 models, as I am very much in need of 185mm GC, 5m turning radius, which were 171mm and 5.4m respectively before. Overall I liked the car very much and I said ok to the owner. I gave the advance and he said I have to wait for one week, as he have to close the loan and endorse in RC. I said ok. But for my bad luck, he was unable to close the loan due to some problems in bank. I was really impatient and can't wait more to get the car. I asked him to hand over the car and I will pay him the full amount, he can close the loan next week and handed over the docs to me. But he was not ready to do that as he is in USA and don't want to invite any troubles later. So he will handover the car once after everything is completed. Also he returned the advance. But I was not at all ready to wait more and started searching for another Punto. The same day (It was a Christmas evening - 2015), I got a call from one of the used car showroom. He said that they have a 2012 Punto Active, which ran for just 19000kms. I was very happy and went to the showroom. There I saw the Punto, it's a Tuscan Wine. After seeing the Exotica Red, I am not much satisfied with this color(But many like this color and many of my relatives and friends always says “Good colour” after seeing my car). It's also having some scratches here and there in the body, as it was used by a old man and he is not at all capable of looking after this big car anymore, and that's why he decided to sell. Odometer @ 19000km was the only attraction in this Punto than the other which I advanced. I didn't like the colour, the scratches in the body and also the engine doesn't feel smooth as the other Punto which ran 54000km. But considering my usage, “low km” will be a really good plus point. (I have clocked 30000km in 1 year in my Swift). The price was 30,000 more than the earlier one. Considering the KMs both covered (54000 vs 19000) it seems okay for me. Then I took the test drive of the car and seems everything fine. In fact the gear and interiors felt new. Then I give him the advance and told that I will pay the rest by tomorrow and collect the car tomorrow. The next day I got the car in my hand. That was the first time, I am going to drive a Punto for more than 5km.I drove it for 25kms and really loved the experience.
The next day I took my family in the car. To my surprise, mom said "Hey this car is free of rattles when compared to our Swift. Also the potholes and gutters in the road are not much felt inside". Actually I didn't notice these as I was more concentrated in comparing the power delivery and handling with Swift. After she told that, I started observing, and I put my Punto purposefully over some gutters. Yes, what she said was right. All those patches & undulations are cleanly absorbed by the suspensions and nothing felt inside, and also no rattles. Wow !! In my Swift I was always worried about the rattles, as it feels really annoying sometimes.
It is 15th May 2016 now when I am writing this, Punto is with me for nearly 5 months and I have already completed 10000km more. (odo reading now: 29000). I am really very happy to own a Punto and never regrets to choose this over the Ritz/Swift. Swift vs Punto: Punto over Swift
Ride & Handling: To be frank, I was not much concerned about handling when I drove Swift. As a fact I never known what is good ride & handling till I drive Punto. My perception was all cars handles almost same. But Punto changed that, now I really understood how good a car can handle. The turns, hairpin curves in high range all are handled exceptionally well by Punto. I think, I became less careful than before, as I am overconfident now that my Punto can handle any situation :) Not exaggerating. Just feeling relaxed while driving than before. I can really feel the difference when I drove in my usual routes. I can took the turns with more speed and more confidence and attack the corners very easily.
Braking: It was a huge improvement over the Swift. When I drive Punto for the first time and applied brakes with the braking experience in Swift, instead of slowing down, I almost stopped the car. Thanks to the wonderful brake pads. I would say the brakes of Punto is the best in class.
Suspension: My mom's words are the real testimony for Punto. The humps, gutters, potholes all are absorbed very well. When gliding over these undulations, we will feel a luxurious comfort which I never felt in my Swift.
Rattle free: I can say there are zero body rattles when compared to Swift. Swift will always make sound even for a very small patch in the road. On the way to my wife house, for almost 10 Kms, the road is not tarred well and contains lot of small patches. When in Swift I drive below 50km/hr due to the rattles, as I am afraid if any parts will come loose. But when in Punto, it doesn't make any sound other than the tyre & engine sound. That's really great !!!
Steering: The Hydraulic Power Steering in Punto is really superb. It's precise, well weighted and to the point. Before driving Punto, I liked the steering of i20 very much for it's smoothness. But after driving Punto, only I realised how good & precise a steering should behave. Swift's steering was neither smooth nor precise, but it was okayish.
Power: Most of the auto magazine/channel reviewers are complaining about Punto's power delivery by comparing 0-100 timings. But as per me, it's not really matters. Because I am not going to drag race with any one. In fact the in gear acceleration in Punto is really better than Swift / i20, which helps a lot in normal driving scenarios. I noticed so many situations where I drive in 4th gear in Punto, but used to go in 3rd gear in Swift.
Solid Built: Yes, everything in Punto is built strong and with heavy metal. You can feel this, while closing the doors & lifting the bonnet. And also no unwanted rattles from anywhere. Good features:
Punto has some good useful features even in base model, which are not present in Swift.
1. Follow me home headlamps
2. Speed limit buzzer
3. Power windows available to scroll up for some time even after switching off the engine and keys are removed.
4. Instantaneous & average fuel economy.
5. Distance to empty
6. Average trip speed
7. One side parking light - Switching on only one side park lights if needed.
Swift over Punto
Initial Acceleration: Yes, for those who want the car to be really fast from the start itself, Swift is the choice.
: Maruti Suzuki has a lot of showrooms and service centers across India. Even in my district itself, MS has more than 15(Wild guess, surely it will be more), whereas Fiat has only one showroom. Spare parts availability is also an issue for Fiat.
Gearbox: I liked the Swift gearbox than Punto. The gear shift are perfect and slots in accurately. Whereas in Punto, it requires some effort to slot in the correct gear as the gear throw is long and rubbery. But once if we get used with it, Punto gear shifts feels soft along with it's soft clutch. Also the first gear is too short in Punto, that we are forced to shift to second soon. Also I felt the second gear in Punto is not powerful as the second gear in swift. This is felt because, Punto started to stall and I have to gently apply clutch to prevent stalling in some humps, whereas Swift goes smoothly in second gear without any hesitation (Just my observation).
Turning Radius: It's really easy to maneuver Swift when in City due to it's short turning radius. And front portion is not long as the Punto's nose, which makes it easy to take U turns. When in Punto I have to find the widest portion of the road, to make a U turn in one go.
Sorry... I couldn't see anything else better in Swift, may be due to Punto fever :)