The Abarth Punto is a blessing for us enthusiasts as we held back tight eagerly waiting for the hot hatch since its announcement at the 2014 Auto Expo. Well, killing time for almost two years wasn’t easy but the Scorpion is finally here and we have 145 reasons to shout hurrah! Yes, those magical number of ponies under the hood gave us goosebumps. Fiat is locally manufacturing the Abarth Punto in India to keep the price under Rs. 10 lakhs that was speculated to be a tad higher. We came up with our initial impressions of the performance hatch as soon as it had launched. Now we spend a good while behind the Scorpion badged wheel to examine if it is exactly what we dreamt of all this while?
In terms of styling, the Abarth Punto does look a lot different from the Punto Evo in terms of styling. It gets the Abarth decals and then all the Fiat badges are replaced by Abarth’s Scorpions. The Abarth Punto also has the 16-inch Abarth alloy wheels that are drool-worthy and the tyres are also 195/55R16 tyres also. The fog lamp surrounds are now red in colour and not the chrome that could be spotted on the Punto Evo. Then there is also the new Abarth red stickering. The Abarth Punto can be easily spotted in parked amongst multiple Puntos. The Abarth Punto will be coming in Pearl White and Hip Hop Black. Then there is also the chrome exhaust tip that we had seen on the Linea T-JET as well.
This “hottest hatch” of India (as stated by the company), can certainly impress customers with its attractive interiors. The manufacturer has chosen a sporty all black color scheme for its insides. Furthermore, there is an ambient lighting given on the dashboard that compliments well with the insides. Its cockpit has a contemporary design featuring metallic finish in few areas that brings a rich appeal. There is a three spoke steering wheel, which has tilt adjustment facility. Also, it is wrapped with a fine quality leather and have a few switches mounted on it. The ‘Abarth’ instrument cluster is one of its highlights and design of its center console also matches with the entire setup. Seating arrangement is quite good and comfortable too owing to its ergonomic design. They are properly cushioned for added comfort. What makes it look different from others is the combination of contrasting red and yellow stitching on the seat covers. Aluminum foot pedals, inside rear view mirror, accessory socket and power operated windows are some of the utilities.
This brand has always taken care about the passenger comfort in all its models, and this one is no exception. One of the main facility that it comes with is the fully automatic climate control unit featuring a foot level air circulating vents for rear. This helps to spread the air evenly in the entire cabin to make a pleasant environment inside. Also, there might be an integrated audio system that lets its occupants to enjoy their favorite music whenever required. The speed sensing volume controls are also provided inside for added convenience. Not to forget that the seats can provide enhanced comfort and support all through the journey. Moreover, the driver’s seat also has height adjustment facility and lumbar support too. One of the main facility inside the cabin is the advanced instrument cluster with a few functions included. Some of these are digital clock, odometer, trip meter, distance to empty indicator, fuel consumption display, and real time mileage indicator as well. In addition to these, stuff like tinted glasses, storage spaces on door trims, cup and bottle holders, assist grips and vanity mirror integrated sunvisors are also present in this hatchback. Furthermore, the aspects such as electric boot release, large glove box compartment, tilt adjustable steering wheel and electrically adjustable outside mirrors assist in improving the comfort levels to a great extent.
Now this is definitely the most interesting part of this first impression review that you all are eagerly waiting for and what it gets under the hood.The Abarth Punto is powered by the 1.4 Liter, 4 cylinder Turbo jet engine which puts up a healthy 145 Bhp of peak power at 5500 rpm and an even impressive 210 Nm of torque. That amount of power can be instantly felt as soon as you push the throttle. Now imagine a regular Punto Evo getting a dose of all that extra juice. A 5 speed manual transmission helps it in keeping all that power in right band.
The power change can definitely be felt as soon as you drive the hatchback and I am talking about some real power here (145 Ps means a lot for this small hatchback). Now in order to cope with the behavioral change Fiat has definitely made some mechanical changes to the standard Punto Evo which includes tighting the suspension springs stiffness and lowering the ride height. While to add more stopping power to the hatch Fiat has also installed rear disc brakes as well and thus it gets equipped with disc brakes on all the 4 wheels.
RIDE AND HANDLING ;
The Punto is known for its sharp handling and excellent high speed stability. While the handling got compromised to some extent with the high ground clearance of the Evo, Fiat has lowered the ride height for better handling and here’s how it feels like. The Abarth is more eager to enter corners at high speeds and maintains its line cleanly. Furthermore, the ugly body roll is now much better controlled and this setup urges you to push the car to its limits every time you see a corner. The hydraulic steering might feel a tad heavy at low speeds to those who are used to electric power steerings of recent times but boy, the steering is feedback rich around bends and very confidence inspiring at high speeds.
After driving over sensitive and lifeless electric steerings you feel totally connected to the road with this hydraulic setup. Quick lane changing and shooting the gaps is a delight on the Abarth Punto with such power on tap. The Apollo Alnac rubber provides decent grip when you throw the car around corners but if you do that too often, we recommend you to upgrade the tyre compound considering the strong power and your love for pushing the Punto to its limits. The lower ground clearance doesn’t end up hitting the underbelly on bumps but you have to be careful with those huge speed breakers.
SAFETY AND SECURITY ;
This Italian automaker seems to have packed this stunner with some crucial safety function to guarantee a secure ride to its passengers. One of those features are the dual front airbags with early crash sensors, which takes the safety to the next level. It also has the ABS along with EBD, which is important for this kind of a hatchback. Its engine immobilizer with rolling code is also integrated to this vehicle that helps to prevent any kind of unauthorized access. Not to forget, it has a robust body structure with impact protection beams and crumple zones to reduce the risk of injury. The instrument panel too aids in alerting the driver by giving out necessary updates likes seat belt warning light and programmable speed limit buzzer. A few other such safety features are also provided inside like 3-point seat belts, automatic door locks, high mount stop lamp, front passenger airbag deactivation, central door locking, fire prevention system and height adjustable front seatbelts.
The Abarth Punto’s price is Rs 9.95 lakhs (ex-showroom, Delhi) and this buy is more from the heart than mind. It is all about how happy you get when you get behind the wheel and it is certainly a great step taken by Fiat for Indian car market. We can see the hot hatchback market open up and see more cars following up.One of them is Volkswagen with its Polo GTi. The Abarth Punto is a step in the correct direction as Fiat buyers have always wanted more power and this is the hatchback that will be pick for those who need a more powerful hatchback. Fiat has been listening to its customers and this is one of the products that will get delight to Fiat buyers across the country.