Fiat India is ramping its presence in India and in doing so, they launched their much famed and performance oriented Abarth brand in India. After introducing the 595 Competizione, Fiat has launched the Fiat Punto and Fiat Avventura, both powered by the Abarth. While there are a couple of other hot hatchbacks like the Punto Abarth, Avventura Abarth is the only-of-its-kind performance crossover in the country.
Here's our test drive review for the Fiat Avventura Abarth!
Fiat Avventura is probably the most crossover looking crossover in the country today. Based on the Fiat Punto Evo, the Avventura in its standard form too, stands apart from the crowd with that big wheel at the rear enclosed in a body colored wheel hanger. The body is raised a good bit and all the plastic cladding on the doors and wheel arches make it a beefy looking crossover and a genuine one too.
As for the Avventura Abarth, it's hard to differentiate the performance variant from the regular one. The only visible differences are the trademark Abarth styled 'Scorpion Sting' alloys and 'Powered by Abarth' engraving on door cladding. Rest, the crossover is exactly the same as its regular avatar.
The Avventura Abarth gets an attractive cabin borrowed from the new Linea, laced in two-tone grey and black interior. The material quality on the dash is nice and is made of soft touch, light grey Alcantara-like material. Then the brightened large orange fonts used on the audio system, trip computer and climate control system makes the Avventura a really nice place to sit in during night time.
There's a tilt-meter and the digital compass sitting atop the centre console, giving it a very off-road friendly machine kind of feel. The seats are nice, plush and wide enough, but the awkward steering position and pedal position can be a bit of issue for regular drivers. As for the rear seats, the car is wide enough to house 3 adults without much discomfort.
Engine, Performance and Transmission
This is where all the fire generates and this is where the heart of the beast lies. Pop up the bonnet and a big Abarth Insignia welcomes you, engraved over a 1.4-litre T-Jet petrol engine that churns out a massive 140 bhp. The turbocharged unit, although 5bhp less than the Punto Abarth, gives you the excitement of a lifetime, one can get out of any crossover in India.
Start the engine, and give it a gentle acceleration, and you will feel like you are in a regular hatchback. But then, the Abarths are not meant for gentle stuff! Hit the throttle hard, wait for the turbo lag to get over and see the tachometer cross 2500 rpm. Your head will be pinned to the seat, the tyres will find it difficult to hold onto the ground, and the Avventura Abarth will turn into a whole lot different animal.
Fiat claims an acceleration figure of 9.9 seconds to reach 100 kmph, which is unlike any crossover, and in fact, better than some of the cars a segment above. The 5-speed manual gearbox ensures that you keep getting the power no matter what gear you summon. Though, that's the only plus point of this otherwise not-so-slick gearbox, which we found difficult to slot in the right gear.
Ride and Handling
Now this is one department which differentiates seasoned manufacturers with the not-so-good ones. While the Abarth has one of the meatiest engines out there, the chassis, suspension and the steering doesn't support it like you would expect. Any harsh throttle on the first gear will cause the front tyres to spin and the steering pulls you to the either sides, a phenomenon known as the torque steer.
There is not enough traction to hold the tyres on the ground while taking hard turns and you feel like loosing control of the Avventura Abarth. The ride quality otherwise, is good enough, and the Avventura Abarth suspension soaks in any of the bumps. The steering wheel is receptive and gives you feedback, making you judicious of the conditions easily in this fun loving little beast.
The very first thing that makes the Fiat Avventura Abarth a sure-shot winner is the fact that it doesn't have any competition. You pay under Rs 10 Lakhs to get this 140 bhp crossover, a first in India. Yes, it is a bit rough around the edges and yes, you will have to keep your pockets rolling to refuel the car every time you take it out, but once you push the throttle, you will forget everything else.
In short, the Fiat Avventura Abarth is a bit ahead from many boring machines in the market today at this price point!
Images by Pawan Sharma