Call me biased but I think my very favourite Automotive Bloggers (IndianAutosBlog.com, Motorbeam.com, Vicky.in & wheelosphere.org etc.) and discussion forum (www.team-bhp.com) did a much better job than mainstream media and Fiat India before and after the launch of the Grande Punto on the 17th providing photos, writeups and specifications for several days and weeks prior. Most information about the new vehicle and the specifications were out on the net for several days.www.zigwheels.com even had a review of the car yesterday. It was no surprise to hear of the engine options at all from Fiat. The only item worthy of waiting for the launch was the price of the variants.
My hatchback comparison charts are updated with the Grande Punto details for both the Petrol and Diesel versions. Please click here for the Petrol Comparisons and here for the Diesel Comparisons. I have used only the top of the line versions of petrol and diesel in the comparison.
Innovative and useful features of the Grande Punto:
- Tail Lamps are out of harms way. Hopefully fewer dings will occur where they are placed.
- The climate control with pollen filter – good for those with allergies.
- The service check reminders are useful. They can get annoying if they malfunction however :-).
- Having the ignition key in a position that the driver can easily see is definitely a welcome feature.
- The Programmable speed limit warning again is useful but may get annoying.
- The Blue & Me seems like a cool thing to have – hopefully it is not too complicated for our regular folks to understand. Do not want to hear about crashes because of jokers fiddling with the system on the move.
- The fold-able key is another cool feature.
Dimensions wise it is the 3rd longest hatchback currently on the market behind the Fusion and the Fabia. Legroom should be pretty decent. It just about as wide as the Swift (narrower by 3mm). Wider hatch backs include the Fusion, I20, Swift, Jazz & Vista. So seating space for 5 inside should be adequate.
I need to see it in person to really say how it looks. I like the looks of the car in most colors. Just felt the grille for the red or lighter colored cars should have been defaulted to black. The silver colored grille and fog lamp surrounds seems a bit out of place. The straight on front view is the best followed by the front 3 quarter view. I really do not care for its looks from the side or from the back where it just looks like every other hatchback and leaning towards plainness. I fear there may be a huge blind spot up front at the A-pillar – will need to test drive to make sure.
Fiat has really played it safe and made the car available in the most common and popular colors. I think they are playing it too safe. A few uncommon colors would have helped the car stand out. Their famous purple that was there on the Palio 1.6 and the brilliant yellow of the Palio S10 are notable omissions. I predict the hot color for the car will be the Exotica Red.
The top of the line petrol 1.4 Emotion Pack is the 5th costliest in the list with the Jazz, Fusion, Fabia and I20 being costlier.
The top of the line Diesel 1.3 Emotion Pack is the 3rd costliest after the Fabia and Fiesta.
The real competition for the Grande Punto is the Hyundai I20 which is close to it in size and price and has a similar bag of feature laden trims that will entice buyers. There really will be bloodshed when the I20 diesel comes out. The Jazz looks very overpriced now and there is a lot of sentiment on the net and on Twitter mentioning cancelling Jazz bookings/thoughts to go for the Punto. I also predict to see some movement away from the Ritz to the GP as well.
I think the Grande Punto has been well priced and provides enough trim options for customers wanting a hatchback of that size. The design looks good, the price is right and the features are just right including the most sought after safety features of ABS & Airbags. The Diesel trims are as well equipped as the Petrol trims. Yes the price is higher but thats still fine.
The key to its success in India will now depend on the sales and service experience. I just hope the Fiat/Tata alliance can somehow work together well to pull it off.
I want to test drive the Grande Punto just to get an idea of how it handles. Have registered for a TD and am now waiting for the call confirming the TD. Will post updates after that.
I was cribbing while waiting for the Ritz launch, I held my tongue during the Jazz launch since I had a feeling we would have a huge let down and then finally the Grande Punto launch was no different. The manufacturers of all these three vehicles seem to think that their online presence can be ignored and all that matters is the big press conference where they call journos from the big mainstream media like print and TV and for the heck of it some of the major online websites. I think they need to carefully coordinate the launch at the press conference and at the online presence to happen simultaneously or within a matter of minutes – or hell kick it off during the press conference and show off their website as well. In the past 3 launches the online sites were updated only several hours past the official unveiling and till then had almost useless information with no time mentioned for the release of useful info. Its not like they are building the website after the official launch. The product has been ready for years, features and engines decided for India, website content is ready for weeks if not months, the pricing has been planned well in advance – all that is pending is to push a button which is the equivalent of “publish” to make all the data available to the thousands like myself who were sitting in office on their day jobs checking the official Indian website of the Fiat Grande Punto www.fiatpunto.in at every free moment for details and also hoplessly checking the Fiat India website as well . After my initial enthu on noticing Fiat has a blog called Fiat For You– which was not being updated after June 17th morning a lot of my enthu went away.
I finally stopped checking the site after coming home and still checking till around 8.00 PM. Had dinner and came back to check it and finally saw that the details are showing up hours later. The blog was also updated aroudn the same time.