Fiat Grande Punto 90HP - Detailed Ownership Review


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thanks to you all. Thank you very much for the warm welcome . i wonder wether i shall start a new topic or just continue here. well let me put it here itself in longest possible way to my pleasure hope you all wont mind.

i owned indica vista quadrajet 09 model . i must say it was no less than a sedan but without boot. and ride quality was also excellent probably due to softer suspensions . and drivability would also bring smile on face thanks to fiat diesal 75hp motor. but all said it was nothing short of rattling toy . i hate rattles and noises especially in a car. more you fix it new one keep coming . even though at higher speed it stayed glued to the tarmac but the braking as well as handelling was horrible . so i had to replace stock tyre to 195/60 r14 improving handling marginally but braking was still not anywhere reliable either it will screech or it will keep rolling. i shouldnt forget about the steering even though it was well wieghted it was vauge and did not have any feel or feedback so even though engine use to push for overtakes and race the steering accuracy gave nightmares. so finally within 6 months of using, driver inside me was having a sad heart for overall output of indica vista nonetheless it was a great family car everybody in family were in love with it for its mileage(around 20kmpl) and smooth rides ( even I loved it so much for its back seat space and comfort it was the first hatchback of my life in which I could sleep with my leg stretched ). so even though without any plan to purchase a new machine, the driver inside me was looking for a perfect car.

I was hearing about maruthi . whole town was filled with maruthi Suzuki . ranging from alto to sx4 . I had a couple of decent visits to showrooms pretending to be a potentential buyer . I made up my mind if any one of Suzuki car could impress me I would go for it . and what I discovered was (not to offend anybody but my personnel view) maruthi Suzuki was standing on the platform made by maruthi 800 having long stand in Indian history .and was much hyped due to mediocrity of Indian middle class families and maruthi was surviving on the basis of splendid service networks across the country.

Compared to tata service personnels maruthi guys are much much responsive and skilled in their fields. I had a warm feeling after visiting maruthi showroom but only glitch was those cars felt like toy cars to me ritz, astar,swift even though sx4 was standing out but it did not have any factor to cut the right deal. Adjacent to maruthi showroom was the Hyundai showroom these are the dayz of i20 thing ringing in my ears . so I gave a surprise visit for myself to hyundai. I asked them politely that I want to see the interiors of i20, I was shown brochure saying they don’t have a demo i20 presently and brouchure says it all.. I could not stop laughing at myself for that innocent salesperson she was eagerly trying to tell me the cost of the car I think that was what she was learnt very well (well blame it on keralites they go for price and looks) I asked her how many bhp i20 was she got confused and said 110 bhp; impressive figure though . I asked her wether they have one in backyard just for a look. She confirmed and lead me to show an i10. I reacted and went behind the car and pointed to her” it says i10” she said sorry and took me little further yes this time a brand new i20 asta just waiting for delivery. Thankfully she gave me the keys asking me not to drive just see only. It was excellent car far far better than maruthi sibilings. Had a luxurious touch to everything eyes can see and feel. Seat and steering position was something great and the gear shifting quality was of top marque ;short throw precise and light –that was love at first touch. So the next step was ignition - I fired the engine . and all my hopes were shattered. even though the cabin was silent there was the low frequency vibrations felt on the steering and gear lever –very much disappointing for me (even vista was better) but at higher rpms the engine was smooth and low end vibrations vanished but that was a great put off for me I have loads of interest in sedate and leisure Sunday driving and that kind of vibration at slow rpm would be annoying as I had same disturbing feel in vista too at lower rpms.

As usual I tried to tap on the plastics on the door and dashboard where I got spekticle – even though they looked stunning with great fit and finish it was not having that feel good factor (I felt they would rattle in long run probably it was not made of thick guage ) anyway that could be considered a minor glitch compared to all wheel disc brakes ,refined engine which was smooth at higher rpms(hope low rpm vibrations would be sorted in running in ) , and other Hyundai bells and whistles.so I quite showroom with thought of doing extensive reading of reviews in internet and other sources and what I realize was my findings did echoed in reviews even breaking and handelling was not upto the premium for the amount paid and the steering was too light made for city comfort .

Finally :- I had a strange issue in my vista while I press the clutch I hear some kind of tapping sound possibly from inside the clutch assembly I was not so happy with that and presented it to tasc .they did some oiling and their regular tactics and it was fixed next day it pop ‘ed up again . and my brother had to go for some urgent job so he took the car . while he was returning the clutch failed totally!!! Jamming the gearbox . the peddle got soft. The car was toed to workshop . while I was angrily disposing my energy at the service guys i saw the punto 90 hp banner “the most powerful hatch in india” in front of the showroom

I asked them for a test drive and they were very pleased . As I was a regular visitor with niggles in my vista. So they immediately came forward with the car in front of me before that I had seen the 90 hp reviews in the internet. And it was reported having mediocre performance only.so I almost knew what I was going to experience.

Anyway I got in and sales guy started explaining about special breaks and suspensions exclusive for punto 90hp. Then the blue n me features . I told him I know it all before so… ..immediately he got my point handed over the wheel to me . first glitch was longest clutch I have ever come across in modern car (I still wonder why so) but it was softer than accelerator peddle…. yes as per the reviews I have read ,exactly it felt no different from my vista in power delivery at around 2000 rpm -is the point where I keep my car spinning most of the time then we came to straight road ahead the guy told me to press the accelerator , o man that was again a long throw ..it was longer by 30 percent than vista and to my utter surprise more I press the accelerator the car keeps pushing I was stunned to see we were on 140 kmph and I thought it was 110 or odd and car was still pushing. he asked me to floor the peddle and I did the machine was pushing without any shame needle was almost on 150 and I still felt the deliberate push from behind ..(oh god the car was still having a lot more to show-kudos to fiat) the guy asked me to apply break . that was first time in my life I felt abs and ebd in true action in a hatchback. The car had astonishing response to driver commands whether it was steering, brakes, handling (or looks). I was flattered... sales guy started to explain again is interfered “I am booking it do you need any more reasons to explain?” He smiled and kept quite.

Back in showroom I made a deal saying that I am ready to book the punto 90hp if they are ready to exchange it for my present vista. And they agreed it for not so great deal for me. But on one condition I don’t want waiting period or such issues I want the punto next day itself. They said they don’t have it in the stock and stock would be arriving within 12 days and the first 90hp would be for you. I said okay but did not book it saying if not before the 12th day forget about the deal. Until 10th day there was no call and on 11th they called me saying “your car has arrived and you can come over “I was shocked!! I felt seemingly a strange affection to my vista on that day!!! 12th and 13th passed due to elections and other issues, paperwork’s and registration got delayed
On day 14 I was in my punto finally. Behind those ergonomic steering wheels
 
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But what the hell it was not giving so much pleasant feel to me. The long clutch was badly inconvenient and I had my knees banging to steering wheel colomn...clutch was having too much of bite due to which I felt huge jerks while changing gears. I thought may be I need bit of getting used to. Day one I did 220 km I was in it all day. To be precise I was getting very much tired in it. There was nothing overwhelming in it other than remarkable steering wheel and its response.

The first gear is too short so car Is much lethargic to move in first then the second is too tall which result in a huge gap in power transmission making it more and more sluggish. 2000 rpm in first gear drops to 1500 rpms while shifting to second then car takes time to rev up. Showing too much lag in but after second third is in right place followed by 4th and 5th well placed but still they are all in a shorter ratios. I felt as if some kind of technically flawed gearbox which failed in some other western country is being applied here.
That was totally disheartening driving experience. Every time I engage first gear my head would bang on the head rest and again while I shift to second. Vista was far better. Even Indian autorikshaws have better gear ratios (I know because I drove one) second day I was losing interest city driving was very much hectic neither second gear nor third gear was pulling the mass. I had to frequently downshift to first and it was too much torquey . I was wondering where the torque (for second and remaining gears) is and is it really diesel burning inside? I was having a looser kind of feeling growing in me all sorts of enhancement features like petes tuning box, ecu remap started to pop up in my head to an extent that I was imagining whether gearbox ratio could be manipulated or not..

I went to my regular hilly road where vista used to freely rev in 4th gear climbing up all the way hilly upto 6 kilometers at 1000rpm. And punto was not able to do it even in third gear. I had to constantly downshift and bring up the rev to 2.5k rpms and it was altogether a nightmare. Second day it was clocking 310 km and me totally disappointed. I thought I should not had gone by my instincts rather I should have listened to reviews and should have done a proper test drive for low speed also. Even though it was very calm and vibration free in the cabin (far better than i20 or swift or vista) for which I was much pleased but for the drivability it was in not even miles near even indica vista. I had nothing to suspect I was kind of total loser with the deal. i20 and swift had short and nice clutches(even though harder than punto) where I only had to move the ankles here in punto I need to move my whole legs moreover the gear lever was also short in i20 giving a deluxe feel nonetheless punto’s was long but effortless. I was thinking my only option is to live by what I did.

So with a very sad heart second day passed .third day I was not even much interested to drive punto rather I was thinking ways to dispose it off. My dad called me to go to some place bit far away (chance for a long distance drive) with heavy heart I started the journey and with all the same inconvenient issues. The destination 130 km away. by the time the clock showed 400km I felt some marginal improvements in drivability suddenly something came as lightning stroke in my mind “the running in period” car was now getting better and better it seems punto was getting better in every kilometer it consumes there was a sudden improvement in overall performance by 520 km. car was getting butter smooth especially the gears. The initial clutch bites was wearing off. And there was considerable increase in torque in second and third gear. That was literally bringing back my lost smiles. Suddenly I thought of adjusting seat height for optimum comfort rather I just thought of giving it a try. I lowered the seat a bit and pushed it back by 2 inches. And Wow it was great position for my legs to press the clutch peddle no more annoying knee hitting on steering column. And lowered the steering for a comfortable access it was brilliant improvisation I did.

And (touchwood) fiat multijet motor started to show its colours true gradually the second and third gear torque was building up it was getting far better than my vista too on third gear it could crawl at 10kmph in city to reach 110kmph with just a push of peddle still I did not feel engine overloaded in such situations. Which was too much from a 1.3L motor? But turbo lag is still evident it takes some time to rev up as turbo kicks in post 2000rpm when it does it shows!!! Within 4th days car clocked to 650 km. feel good factor have returned to me.

Especially due to looks it is a real head turner no matter where it is. Mine is bosa nova white .I wonder how much it would appeal if it was red!!! People don’t want to miss that Italian fatty machine on wheels.
I can’t take my eyes off from that fiat badge on steering wheel and huge one at boot door and one at front grills .o man they are shiny and beautiful. I should definitely mention climate controlled ac- I can freeze to death if it is turned fully on for an hour. Ac was terrible in my previous car vista I was almost used to it; sweating with ac full on. But here in punto it takes 10 minutes and you look out for ac buttons to reduce chills. That is an experience for me sure. I don’t want to mention ride quality and handelling and built quality other such things they are already a subject of appraisal everywhere for punto.

I was not so much expecting good interior quality but fortunately they are of good quality. Rather I should say there are certain funny mismatch when closely inspected the brighter side is they are solidly bound and of thicker gauge than indica vista or swift or Hyundai so I can expect longitivity without rattles. I hear thud when I tap on plastic unlike in other cars where I hear plastics rattling.

Due to direct transition from indica vista I am short of space for storage of certain essential stuffs which we were used to with vista but not possible in punto though. Storage is scarce.
No more I heard rattling’s while passing pot holes and bumps.
As usual a curse with small hatches ground clearance is still issue but thanks to fiat they have an engine guard at bottom (in vista it was all open for the road and dirt). Best part is cabin is well isolated from outside noise and the engine so you barely feel it in what is heard is low note grunt in vista it was typical multijet diesel clatter but not anymore in punto 90hp I wonder how they tuned the sound. And I love that heavy grunt so much.
In these 5 days what I realized is day by day engine performance and attitude is improving and it is real show master post 2000rpm only.
The reasons I figured out are fiat detuned the engine for India. Where higher rpms and high speeds are just dream and fuel economy is of prime concern.
They balanced the car wisely giving a tight and heavy built with fuel efficiency. the sluggishness totally disappear if revved up beyond 2500 rpm and maintained that level the car can cruise like missile from second gear all the way to 100kmph but first is extremely short and torquey for that initial surge .

The car has a characteristic behavior similar to heavy jet planes. at smaller rpms they just crawls and when rpm is raised they have speed build up which keeps building up to take off. Yet they don’t have that eye popping thrust as jet fighters or rockets which are comparatively lighter. (Just my silly comparison never mind)

I am in love with punto. in city it is 2nd or 3rd gear on highways always fifth. But beyond 130 kempt engine noise creeps in even though much controlled but not so much disturbing or annoying but it does.

meter shows upto 7000 rpm and accelerator kissing the floor makes needle touch 5000rpm after service it may touch 6000rpm probably giving me a speed of 180 -190 kmph .i did 140kmph which was attained easily , once out of curiosity . so I am eagerly waiting to be done with the running in period to try its might.

I can go on and on…I really enjoy punto!!! Thanks to fiat.
 

vijay

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jayadev, good write up and thats one story to read about ownership, yes though vista dna punto share same engines before 9-bhp, still you would feel the difference on both of them.What was the on road price you paid for new punto and how much did they offered you for your vista do share.and Pictures please.
 
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punto cost me 7.35 on road in kerala (kannur)

the prize offered for indica vista is bit emberassing for me (tata are you listening) first concern for me to give up my vista is i realized it doesnt have any decent room in resale market.
i (expected 4.5 lac but..it tata ) proposed 4lac for 12500kms vista (black) they offered me 3.75 lac only . but i insisted saying that " i am happy with my vista and i am not going to buy punto " after couple of discussions and heating conversations they agreed for 3.90lac they begged me beyond that it is impossible for them,as for the black colour and there needs some paint work at bottom and et all.. so i agreed thinking that more i keep my indica vista with the value will diminish (really a pathetic trait for tata vehicles...two year old swift is being sold as hot cakes for 5lacs!!)
 
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things i dont like in punto!!!

the indicator/headlamp stalks on left side:- its really annoying part to regulary use left hand for indicator .while at slower speeds while turning gear shifting and indicator really messes up.

and of course for head lamp high beam or to dim, again i need my left hand [frustration]. normally left hand was only reserved for gear shifting in my previous car but now it remains buzy.!!!

btw things gets different when i am abroad but anyhow right arm gets the privileges.
so punto in india its crazy!!!

at high speeds post 130kmph/3000rpm mark multijet shows its charecteric nature ..yes it becomes noisy ,to be precise punto 90hp sounds boomy!!
 
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Clocking 730km, Its altogether a different being. one have to drive it passionately to experience what i am talking about. to understand the fact i will quote an experience:-

one of my friend who own swift dzire, i informed him about my punto. he happens to be a swift fan and and overwhelmingly he bought swift with boot(dzire) but he himself regretted as dzire was much flimsy than swift. but he managed it. so when i mentioned about my punto over the phone he started laughing at me saying there was much better options for same price tag. and punto is overprized ,interiors are worst made by tata and et al...!!!! i said "come over and just have a look and tell me what exactly you mean" within 10 minutes he arrived in his pulsar though.

first statement was i should have taken red as white is much common. i said ya you are right red is very much sexy. 2nd, he said "door is bit stiff and heavy but that is cool and feels solid " he was impressed with chrome handle!!
3rd i showed him folded key (which had remote operated switches) he was amazed to see the folding idea which would save lot of space in pockets adding convenience..Wow he said.

4th :- i opened the door. i saw his jaw dropping .he was stuck with the steering wheel. he said it looks like ferrari..!!!!!! i said much cheaper though!!
5th, i gave him the key. for him key entry was vertical compared to other cars which is horizontaly into steering colomn. he smile and said wow again. thats a luxury.

6th:- he started the engine and his statement "Friend, Is it a Petrol?", i said aam khaane hai ki guthliyan ginoge? (you like to eat candies or check wrapper) !!! we took off and i saw a constant smile on his face which was getting wider with needle moving higher in the meter!! i said what do you say ..he interrupted "shut up let me concentrate"!!!

We covered around 40 km and but he wanted to continue..i said fill up my tank it shows 2 litres burnt...he was ready i said ok. his conclusions:

1.awesome interiors and seat.

2.unmatched steering looks and response also.(initially he said he felt vibrations while on the move; i explained him the steering feedback he had huge smile on his face to learn a new thing)

3.an ideal brake ,"truely brakes should be like" this he said.

4.incredible handelling(yeh car kabhi dhoka nahi dega-this car wont cheat ever)


I asked him "now what:-7.35 lac is too much. i said "isnt it justified with abs ,ebd, 2 airbags and that fiat badge" he agreed instantly!! i asked him to press the accel, he was hesitating to go beyond 120km he said that is the maximum he pushed in dzire as breaking is not consistant in it. i said it is punto give a try. he tried but he got very much nervous when i mentioned you are about to cross 140kmph he slowed down and said "pata hi nahi chala- i didnt realize" he said it is his first car he was experiencing such a consistent and reliable driving .i said fiat has been producing such cars since years and punto must be the most basic one. he couldn't speak anything!!!
 
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Thats experience with your friend was great to read.[cheers]
I have had similar experiences with my Palio and I just tell them "Its a FIAT".
To me FIAT is a much bigger and better brand to own than Honda or Toyota or Hyundai or Maruti etc. specially because of its glorious history!
 
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Yes i agree with you , generally TATA vehicles have a poor re-sale value! We got offers of only 50k for our almost 13 years old Sierra![cry] While a Maruti800 of similar age would have fetched more value!


I agree with your indicator stalks part! While driving in highways it can get a bit tough , changing the beams and gears with the same hand![frustration] But can be compromised keeping in mind the amazing build and handling!


Nice experience with your friend! A Punto is any day better than a Swift IMO!
 
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Yes i agree with you , generally TATA vehicles have a poor re-sale value! We got offers of only 50k for our almost 13 years old Sierra![cry] While a Maruti800 of similar age would have fetched more value!


I agree with your indicator stalks part! While driving in highways it can get a bit tough , changing the beams and gears with the same hand![frustration] But can be compromised keeping in mind the amazing build and handling!


Nice experience with your friend! A Punto is any day better than a Swift IMO!
i couldnt find any difference between swift and indica vista both rattle like bag full of plastics .but yes swift has driveable gear ratios than rest. remaining factors like braking,consistency,reliability ..et al are dependent on maruthi service centre only. else there are nothing to distinguish between visa and swift.
so much acclaimed fuel efficiency is due to thinner tyres though making it value for money for long term use but but nowhere outstanding as in perfomance field!! that was the main reason i prefered indica vista over swift, and what i got additionally was lot of space and comfortable ride which swift owner can only dream, that too for rs.60000 lesser price !!

so punto90hp can never be compared with swift on any league .
only glitch is punto is sluggish at 0-100kmph due to not so quick turbo kick-in .
but as far as i have learnt turbo use with a sudden surge reduces engine life considerably though it is great marketing technique!!but for long term use engine deteriorates faster compared to turbos with linear power delivery.
fiat knows their engine and they tuned it accordingly . suzuki tries to win a bumper with multijet but we should ask honest long term swift owner how the car is .
 
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790km

its raining here in kerala . and punto is not bothered. it is all time ready to execute the commands .
yes i mean the breaks . abs and ebd..i have very good idea how unreliable it gets in heavy rain (i had couple of scary incidents with vista) and...
punto says to me " do not bother you enjoy i will take care of everything[thumbsup].
thick 195mm shoes have wonderful grip on wet surface. just 2 weeks ago a white ritz banged behind a bus. the tyre locked and we(me and my brother) saw car skidding on the road finally kissing back of the bus.
the bonnet was inside the lower part of bus and got stuck .
my brother got very much disturbed to see that, he said" look at the car the bus is loaded on its bonnet.oh poor suspensions and tyres" i replied "you should be worried about the passenger not the machines(he is crazy) he smiled.
we should be aware of the fact that , while hunting big milieage and shortest period for 3 digit speeds. manufacturers are compromising many important things to keep the price low. and finally the end users or consumers have to pay for it!!!!
end users may not possibly know what they are buying . they may know how to drive . remaining part lies in hands of manufacturer.
i have myself been witness . how autorikshaws are much safer than small cars;the driver have one final option to jump out, if he gets a chance. but in small car ...hope you can imagine!!!
sorry... back to punto:-i wanted to make sure if my car has ebd (electronic break force distribution) as i feel it operating when i apply brakes, but want it to be confirmed .
i went through the fiat-india web site. and nothing there (godamn fiat guys what are you doing in there ). i feel sick to go through those car bibles..err manuals.
i believe punto does have ebd . i just want to see it in black and white.
 
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Thats experience with your friend was great to read.[cheers]
I have had similar experiences with my Palio and I just tell them "Its a FIAT".
To me FIAT is a much bigger and better brand to own than Honda or Toyota or Hyundai or Maruti etc. specially because of its glorious history!
i dont know exactly about fiat especially in india(in europe fiat is almost the first name known by general public for quality and reliability). as for previous experience of owners and general comments by people i am bit worried.
sometimes i get skeptical, whether tata will try to outsmart fiat and take over the entire market. if so fiat owners(including me) would be like puppets in tata service stations. thanks to maruthi and hyundai;hope tata is not going to conspire anything arrogant at least in near future.
 
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punto humour

1.i explained my mom about the blue n me feature in car saying that ,the moment we bring the phone inside punto ,it will take over entire commands of phone and whole car will work more than phone,as it will dial numbers when we call out the names and when i demonstrated it to mom , she got worried and said " be carefull and dont leave the phone inside, who knows if it dial some numbers by itself-should be given a thought "

2. our neighbourhood senior person still insists that steel rims (in indica vista) are better and stronger than alloy wheels (in punto) he says "alloys are just aluminium to reduce the weight -he may be right"
3.my aunt came over and said at least this time you did right thing by purchasing white car which is auspecious and symbol of purity. black one(vista) was inauspicious and devilish- i listened!!!
4.dad asked why did you opt for smaller car, indica vista was big and spacious.-tata should feel proud!!
5.finally my brother says he lost interest in GTA (the computer games) putno is here !!(punto did what whole family was trying to do for last 4years!!)
6.Mrs. is worried, as so many men and WOMEN are turning thier heads towards the person who is riding on this fair Italian beauty.
7.when i said punto has great brakes with abs and ebd one of my friend commented"that is very much dangerous!! as too much of brake will make you stop suddenly for sure including the guy behind ,who may stop over you!!!!!"
 
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