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Rediff.com  » Business » Check out the Fiat Grande Punto!

Check out the Fiat Grande Punto!

June 15, 2009 20:59 IST

Sneak peek: Check out the Fiat Grande Punto!

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Karthick Annamalai

Did someone say the world is experiencing an economic slowdown? Judging from the hectic activity in India's automobile sector, it certainly does not seem so.

In the last 30 days, the country has seen the launch of four new cars: The Maruti Suzuki Ritz, the premium Honda Jazz, the Toyota Land Cruiser, and the Audi A6.

Now it's the turn of Fiat to unleash its supermini, the Grande Punto, in to the Indian market. The Italian beauty is likely to be priced around Rs 6.5 lakh (Rs 650,000).

The author is an automobile enthusiast and also blogs on www.vicky.in


Image: The Fiat Grande Punto.
Photographs: Fiat/Handout/Reuters
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Check out the Fiat Grande Punto

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Styled in association with Maserti designers, the Grande Punto will stand out among the toy cars with its sleek styling. The large, curvaceous grille reminds the legendary Maserati and teardrop-shaped headlamps are not just classy, but also convey real dynamism.

The front overhang is large to score higher rating at the EuroNcap, but the designers get credit for making the front a homogeneous unit there is no clear line between windscreen and bonnet. Typical of an Italian car, the Grande Punto has flowing lines all over it. A strong shoulder line emanates from the fender and flows all the way to tailgate.

The glass area is not huge although Grande Punto sports a front quarter glass. The roofline tapers at the near the C pillar and merges with the pillar mounted tail lamps. The rear balances the front, but the Grande Punto's vertical tail lamps, like in the case of the Ritz, might be a subject of debate.

Overall, the Grande Punto inherits the distinctiveness of its Italian siblings and is like a mini Maserati.


Image: The large, curvaceous grille reminds the legendary Maserati and teardrop-shaped headlamps are not just classy, but also convey real dynamism.
Photographs: Fiat/Handout/Reuters
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Check out the Fiat Grande Punto

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Internationally Fiat sells Grande Punto with multiple engine options - two petrol (1.2L delivering 65 bhp and 1.4L delivering 77 bhp) and four diesel units (75 bhp or 90 bhp 1.3L and the 120 bhp or 130 bhp 1.9L).

However, the Indian Grande Punto is expected to come with 1.2L and 1.4L FIRE (Fully Integrated Robotised Engine) gasoline engines and the proven 1.3-litre multijet diesel.

With the addition of Grande Punto, the 1.3L diesel popularly known as the 'world's most relevant engine' now powers seven Indian cars that include -- Fiat Palio, Tata Indica Vista, Maruti Swift, Maruti Ritz, Maruti Swift Dzire and Fiat Linea. All the engines will come with a five-speed transmission.

Considering the 1.1 tonne weight, don't expect the smaller 1.2l engine to offer spirited performance. However, the larger gasoline engine and multijet might deliver eyebrow-raising performance.


Image: Indian Grande Punto is expected to come with 1.2L and 1.4L FIRE (Fully Integrated Robotised Engine) gasoline engines and the proven 1.3-litre multijet diesel.
Photographs: Courtesy, Fiat Group Automobiles
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Check out the Fiat Grande Punto

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The styling of the interiors is classy but lacks charm. The flat-topped binnacle where the main dials are housed is unexceptional and we wish the Fiat offers better interiors for all its cars in India.

The steering wheel, central console and even the knobs remind you of the bigger Linea.

The Grande Punto offers a spacious cabin. With a wheelbase of 2,510 mm and 1,490 mm in height, the Punto can accommodate a tall driver and an equally tall rear passenger, providing both with a generous amount of space.

The boot is quiet decent (a little over 260L) and the Punto will come with 60:40 foldable seats to accommodate longer objects.


Image: The spacious interiors of the Punto (the model shown here is a left-hand drive version)
Photographs: Courtesy, Fiat Group Automobiles
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Check out the Fiat Grande Punto

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The Grande Punto shares the platform with the Linea and hence mechanicals are identical. Brakes are ventilated discs in front with drums at rear. An independent suspension at the front is backed by a new torsion beam axle configuration.

However, Fiat will do minor modifications to suit the small car excise norm. Grand Punto, which is 4030mm long, is shortened by 30mm so that it can fit into the small car excise duty category.

The Grande Punto was awarded the maximum five-star rating by Euro NCAP (European agency for safety testing). Though the Indian Punto will be different to the European one,  you can expect Fiat to equip the Indian Punto with ABS and electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) on higher variants.

A CD player with steering mounted audio controls, alloy wheels, fog lamps,power windows, tilt adjustable steering, rear defogger and rear wiper would make into the list of features of Grande Punto.

However, Fiat's Blue&Me system and eco-Drive won't make it to the Punto, as it pushes up the cost significantly.


Image: Fiat and Ferrari Chairman Luca di Montezemolo poses next to a new Fiat Grande Punto in September 2005.
Photographs: Fiat and Ferrari Chairman Luca di Montezemolo poses next to a new Fiat Grande Punto in September 200
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Check out the Fiat Grande Punto

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Fiat will produce the Grande Punto along with the Linea and Palio at its state-of-the-art facility in Ranjangaon near Pune. The facility makes Fiat's successful 1.3 litre multijet diesel engine and 1.2 & 1.4 litre FIRE gasoline engine for the Grande Punto.

The plant can produce 200,000 cars and 300,000 engines and it will be shared between Fiat and Tata Motors.

The Ranjangaon plant is highly automated and hence you can expect top notch quality from Fiat. Also, Fiat is very keen on localisation which is evident from the Linea pricing. We hope that the Grande Punto will also have a higher degree of localisation to be cost competitive.

Normally localisation also ensures availability of cheaper spares. Localisation content for the Honda Jazz is about 77 per cent and yet it prices begin from Rs 743,000, ex-showroom Mumbai.


Image: The newly launched Honda Jazz
Photographs: Rajesh Karkera
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Check out the Fiat Grande Punto

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Fiat will officially launch the Grande Punto on June 17. The company plans to launch and unveil the car at a ceremony in New Delhi. The Grand Punto is expected to come in multiple variants to cater to the wide range of audience.

Fiat hopes that the Grande Punto would be the perfect follow up to the Linea which has already created ripples in the C plus segment.

Grande Punto is an excellent hatchback with state-of-the-art engine and legendary Italian styling. That's why it is a roaring success for the Italian automaker in Western markets.

So can Punto emerge as a winner in the segment that boasts of the Fabia, i20, Ritz and Jazz? Pricing and after-sales support holds the key!


Image: Fiat hopes that the Grande Punto would be the perfect follow up to the Linea which has already creat
Photographs: Reuters
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