Fiat Avventura Review: Strutted up Finnesse

We review the new Contemporary Urban Vehicle (CUV) on the block, the India-specific Fiat Avventura

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Added in: Fiat

 

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As the small turbocharger whistled cleanly through the pure, early morning, mountainous Panchghani air, the Fiat Avventura mauled the twisty sections with a kind of aplomb that can be solely be attributed to its Punto roots. Yeah, I was having some unbridled fun.

It all started with the Fiat guys arranging a blast from Mumbai to Panchghani in their brand new, glistening Fiat Avventura cars, something that Fiat likes to call a Contemporary Urban Vehicle (CUV) – an India specific product for now, but will be lined up for exports later in the day.

Fiat Avventura Detail (3)

The Avventura has risen forth from pent up demand for a vehicle that young, nuclear families could have a little fun in – more of a quiet, yet involving weekend away from the urban sprawls, with the kids and a couple of bikes in tow. Heavily based on the Punto Evo, The Avventura is Fiat’s take on something on the lines of Ford Ecosport. But is it merely one more hatchback that aspires to be a SUV? Or even a soft-roader? We find out!

Styling

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The Avventura does grab a few inquisitive eyeballs, what with its lustrous new paint work- especially in Bronzo Tan, beefy cladding, slightly raised ride height and that rear mounted spare wheel. Strictly from a visual standpoint, it’s a Punto Evo on stilts. Quite a generic statement that, but all those adventurous exterior embellishments give it a distinctive character- something that stands out in this day of cars styled with washing machines as benchmarks.

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The bumpers get a little aggressive and the front one ends in a pseudo rugged flourish with a skid plate and side moldings which encompass the fog lamps. Even the rear one sports similar moldings, but also bears the beefy hinge of the external spare wheel mount. The sides benefit from some cleanly put together cladding work as well, replete with Avventura lettering stamped on them. The raised ride height does pack a mild visual punch, especially when complimented with the new, brawny set of five-spoke, gunmetal finished 16” alloys and a pair of bolted, fully functional roof rails above.

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The rest of the bodywork is typical Punto Evo fare, starting with the new chrome lipped trapezoidal grille upfront with mesh inserts and those sexy, swept back headlamps bearing extended brows. The side profile continues to be the same, and has already melted tons of hearts, but the rear now offers something new in the form of a full sized, independently mounted spare wheel- which also comes with attractively sculpted cover with the Fiat logo in the middle. Those pretty, clear lens tail lamps from the Punto Evo are carried over as well.

Fiat Avventura Interior (2)

Step, or rather climb in and you’ll be greeted with familiar vibes here as well. The beautifully designed and put together dashboard and center console from the Punto Evo smacks you in the face but is now topped off with something unique. In a bid to capture its wanderlust, the Fiat guys have thrown in a set of three dials perched above the center console that display information like pitch, yaw and a even a compass – pointless, maybe, but looks cool, so might as well.  The dashboard also sports a soft touch suede element running across its entire length – a brilliant little visual touch, we’d say. The rest stays similar to the Punto Evo, along with the center console with its glossy black finish and a set of dummy buttons. The seats are trimmed in chocolate brown, similar to the door mounted arm rests and feature prominent Avventura lettering. Red ambient lighting in the top variant freshens things up inside as well.

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>>Next Page for Ergonomics/Build/Refinement>>

Ergonomics/Build/Refinement:

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  • The car is blessed with a dead pedal, but that said, it’s placed too close to the clutch pedal for comfort. It’s not much of a grind, but hampers enthusiastic driving to a certain extent.

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  • NVH levels are simply outstanding. Fiat has put extra noise insulation paraphernalia under the bonnet to achieve some class leading refinement. Diesel clatter on the inside is virtually non-existent, and so are other kinds of noises from the road, tires and the wind. So much so, that people were finding hard to believe that they were piloting something with an oil-burner residing under the hood till they saw the rev counter.

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  • The steering feels great to hold and is adjustable for rake, but not for reach. Initially the steering wheel feels a tad too close to the chest but a spirited drive through the hills makes you forget that quickly

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  • Due to the cab-forward architecture of the Punto/Avventura, the thick A-pillar hampers visibility a tad, creating blind spots that could land you in a spot of bother when the going goes twisty.

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  • The five-speed gearbox has fairly precise throws, but is marred by being a bit rubbery, especially in the lower gears.

Fiat Avventura Spare Wheel (8)

  • That external spare wheel looks pretty cool, but the cover is a chore to get off, featuring a plethora a locking points and annoying latches. In fact, Fiat India should offer an extra booklet with the user manual depicting the whole process in detail.

Fiat Avventura Spare Wheel (1)

  • That cool spare wheel is prone to rattles and vibrations as well- even visually one can see the whole unit dance away happily when the car gets up to speed.

Fiat Avventura Spare Wheel (7)

  • More on that spare wheel- the whole party needs to be out of the way for the rear hatch to open, so one has to open the unit all the way out to make way for the hatch. In cramped parking spots, forget about that bit of luggage you had lying around in the boot. [But then again, in sparsely populated Panchghani, the natural habitat of the Avventura, it wasn’t an issue]

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  • Some more about that spare wheel [the last point, we promise]- With the spare gone from its original space in the boot, that cave has been filled with a removable thermocol thingy that houses the toolkit, first-aid box and other itsy bitsy stuff. We figured Fiat could have utilized that area better, freeing up more boot space.

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  • Overall fit and finish levels are pretty good actually, with the insides benefitting from a wide and smart range of materials and trims- the adventurous Fiats are pretty well put together.

>>Next Page for Features/Engines & Performance>>

 Features

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  • The diesel powered avatar will be spawn three trim levels- the base Active, the middle Dynamic and the top end Emotion. The petrol variant will get the same trims, but will miss out on the top end Emotion.
  • All the trim levels would carry the aforementioned exterior embellishments- wheels, cladding, roof rails et al. The basic Active variant will skip out on the fog lamps and all the chrome trimming on the front.
  • On the inside, the Active trim is equipped with front power-windows, power steering, remote central-locking and rear parcel tray. The Dynamic trims gain additional equipment like audio system with multi connectivity options, rear-power windows, fabric insert on door trim and door arm-rest, electrically adjustable ORVMs, height adjustable driver seat and anti-lock braking system with EBD.
  • The top-of-the-line, diesel only Emotion variant boasts features like audio controls on steering wheel, dual stage front airbags, 3- Point ELR seat belts with pre-tensioner and load limiters, rear wiper and defogger, height-adjustable rear head-rests, auto climate control with one rear AC vent and read out and voice recognition amongst other things.
  • The Fiat Avventura will sport a new Zafferano Orange paintjob while other options include the ones already seen in Punto Evo like Exotica Red, Bronzo Tan, Vocal White, Minimal Grey and Hip-Hop Black.

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 Engines and Performance:

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The Fiat Avventura will come with a couple of engine options, both plucked from the Punto Evo range and those are the 1.4 litre FIRE petrol motor, and the 1.3MJD with VGT. The 1.4 petrol engine produces 90PS@6000rpm and 115Nm@4500rpm. The 1.3 MJD with variable geometry turbo produces 90PS and 209Nm of torque.

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Straightaway we took off in the diesel, putting our foot down and let that VGT induced swagger lull us into not believing that the Avventura has to lug around 65 Kgs of extra weight over the Punto Evo. That said, it does affect the performance a tad, especially in lower revs with a fully loaded car. Below 2,500rpm, it doesn’t move very enthusiastically, but post that, push comes to shove when the VGT kicks in. It’s not exactly a kick, but more of a linear surge that feeds the senses pretty well. There’s a fair bit of torque to play with and third and fourth gears are a joy to row on the highway as speeds build. Dial in the newfound NVH levels and the Avventuta gobbles up the miles effortlessly. Also, the engine note is quite pleasing for something which sips diesel and never felt intrusive at all. The clutch action is pretty sweet and is on the lighter side- which makes for a effortless city slicker as well, if you get used to the slightly sluggish power delivery in lower revs

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The 1.4 liter petrol motor is a pretty smooth operator too. It’s fairly spirited when it comes into its own, but not that fast or high-revving- the limiter cuts in at 6500rpm. Spirited take-offs are marred by the unenthusiastic character of the engine which sounds pretty gruff and uncomfortable in lower gears. Mid-range is strong enough for relatively fast blasts on the expressway, but don’t be surprised if lesser endowed cars nudge past you. We recommend the diesel- in fact; as mentioned before, Fiat isn’t even offering a top-end variant for the petrol range, which ends with the middle Dynamic variant.

>>Next Page for Ride/Handling/Verdict>>

Ride and Handling:

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The Duster ahead stopped in frenzy, brake lights glowing and kicking up a lot of dust. The road ahead was festooned with potholes with sizes ranging from snake holes to full-sized craters. The Avventura showed no signs of slowing down and hit the bad patch at barely legal speeds. What happened after that just blew our minds away. This Punto Evo on stilts simply sailed over them, with just muffled thuds finding its way inside the cabin- the car was immensely composed and simply devoured the potholes and whatever was left of that road, leaving behind the Duster in a stupefying haze of dust and the sound of an ever- vibrating tail mounted spare wheel- like a BOSS! Just for the record, the Duster, by itself is a fantastic tool when it comes to flattening uneven surfaces. Yes, the Avventura is that good!

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The way this car handles bad patches of road at speeds is something that nobody expected- it literally flies over them without breaking a sweat, over and over again. Well, even the Punto does the same, but this one takes things to an entirely new level. While the raised ground clearance now stands at 205mm and the suspension receives mild tweaking, the new set of 205/55 R16 tubeless rubber offers oodles of grip and composure. Even on smooth tarmac, the Avventura rides brilliantly and offers excellent high-speed stability, no major issues here. Oh, and the steering tends to light up a little and shows slight disconnect on the limit in a straight line.

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When handling the twisty stuff, very few cars came close to the Punto, and this follows a close second. There’s a wee bit more body roll than a stock Punto, but that’s understandable because of the raised ride height. Apart from that, it’s a pleasure to pilot around, with the hydraulic power steering weighing up nicely and offering just the right amount of feedback. And it still corners like its on rails- very predictable and immensely enjoyable.

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The petrol has a slightly different story and doesn’t feel that composed and firmly damped when the going gets rough. Though not poles apart, the lighter of the variants here feels a little less confidence inspiring over broken bits of road. Dynamically though, it continues to be as brilliant as ever!

Verdict

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To get to the point, the Fiat Avventura is a lot more than what one may think of it – a Punto Evo on stilts. It certainly looks the part, clearly the best amongst its competitors with hatchback origins, which include the hideous Etios Cross and the Cross Polo. The dynamics and performance are easily a cut above the rest as well, barring the Cross Polo, which comes pretty close. The pseudo-rugged Fiat packs in a fair amount of features but doesn’t have the lead in the department, what with no reverse camera or even sensors. Minor quirks aside, it’s a neatly  put together vehicle. And oh! It goes over bad roads like no other.

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Is it better than the Punto Evo?

It depends on how you look at it. For what it’s meant for, it certainly is. It’s highly impressive rough road credo is achieved without sacrificing the Punto’s class leading dynamics and to us, it does look marginally better. Agreed, it’s no real off-roader, but it was never meant to be. All that extra show is justified by the way this thing flies over broken Indian roads. In fact, this could be the perfect Punto. Prices are yet to be disclosed, and the world awaits its global debut on the 20th October in Delhi.

>>Next Page for Specification Sheet/Gallery>>

Fiat Avventura Specification Sheet

S. NoVariant / Trim1.4L FIRE Petrol
1.3L MULTIJET Diesel
ACTIVE
1.4L FIRE Petrol
1.3L MULTIJET Diesel
DYNAMIC
1.3L MULTIJET Diesel
EMOTION
SAFETY & SECURITY
1Front Airbags with Early Crash SensorsX
2Passenger Airbag DeactivationX
3Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) with EBD
(# Diesel Variant only)
X#X
43- Point ELR Seat Belts with Pretensioners & Load LimitersX
5Automatic Door LockXXX
6Central Door LockingXXX
7Door Open IndicatorXExactExact
8Fire Prevention System (FPS)XXX
9Height Adjustable Front Seat BeltsX
10Immobilizer With Rolling code (FCS)XXX
EXTERIOR APPEARNCE
1Reindeer HeadlampsXXX
2Sporty Rear SpolierXXX
3Body Coloured ORVMXX
4Rear fog lampsXXX
5Front log lampsXX
6Side Body CladdingXXX
7Spare wheel mounted on tail gateXXX
8Functional Roof RackXXX
INTERIORS
1Dual Tone DashboardXXX
2Ambient Lighting on DashboardX
3Fabric Insert on Door Trim & Door Arm-RestXX
4Rear Parcel ShelfXXX
5Boot LampXX
AIR CONDITIONING
1Automatic Climate ControlX
2Manual HVACXX
3Foot Level Rear Air CirculationXXX
4Rear AC VentsX
COMFORT & CONVENIENCE
1Desmodronic Foldable Key with Boot ReleaseXXX
2Electric Boot Release on DashboardXXX
3Electrically Adjustable Outside Rear View MirrorsXX
4Leather Wrapped Steering Wheel & Gear shift KnobX
6Front Power Windows with ‘Delay’ & Auto Down’ FunctionXXX
7Rear Power WindowsXX
8Rear Defogger, Window Wiper & WasherX
11Rear Seat 60:40 splitX
12Height Adjust front headrestXXX
13Height Adjust for Driver SeatXX
14Tilt SteeringXXX
IN CAR ENTERTAINMENT
1Blue & MeX
2Integrated CD / MP3 & FM PlayerXX
3Voice recognitionX
4SMS ReadoutX
5USB and Aux-in in Centre ConsoleXX
6Steering Mounted Audio ControlsX
INSTRUMENTATION
112V Power SocketXXX
2Digital ClockXXX
3Digital OdometerXXX
4Digital Trip MeterXXX
5Distance to Empty IndicatorXXX
6External Temperature DisplayXX
7Instrument Panel Light RegulationXXX
8Programmable Speed Limit BuzzerXXX
9Programmed Service ReminderXXX
10Real-Time Mileage IndicatorXXX
11Seat Belt Warning LightXXBuzzer
12TachometerXXX
13Trip Calculator – Range/Mileage/Ave Speed/DurationXXX
Features to Enliven your drive
1High terrain gauges for your Adventurous drive (Compass & Inclinometer)XXX
2Signature16″ Alloys standrd in all variants ( High ground clearnce : Even more than bigger SUVs)XXX
3Double folding rear seats for flexible space managementXXX
4Functional roof racks to  carry your adventure gearXXX
5Macho tailgate mounted spare wheel cover  makes you stand outXXX
6Hassel free opening of Spare wheel gate with Electric Boot releaseXXX
7Smart Driver Airbags that deploy based on severity of collision
{Dual Stage Airbag}
X
8Solid rear seats to ensure safety and longevity
{Rear Seat Metal Back}
XXX
9Extra wipe to ensure Clean and dry front windshield
{Hardworking Front Wipers}
XXX
10Rear Wiper that understands the requirement
{Smart Rear Wiper}
X
11Front Power Windows that roll up even after you switch off
{Smart Power Windows}
XXX
12Cuts Fuel Supply in case of roll over
{Fire Prevention System}
XXX
13Audio that understands the speed of Avventura
{Speed Sensitive Volume Control}
XX
14Dead Pedal that rests your left foot
{Clutch Foot Rest}
XXX
15Mirrors that blink
{Turn Indicators on ORVMs}
XXX
16Headlamps that follow you back
{Follow me Headlamps}
XXX
17Hydraulic Power Steering (Better ride and Handling)XXX
18Rear Spare wheel gate (Stylish pack mostly available in luxury cars, Enjoy more space)XXX
19Infotainment that interacts
{SMS Read out, Voice Recognition}
X
TYRES AND WHEELS
1Tyres (Tubeless)205/55 R16205/55 R16205/55 R16
2WheelsAlloyAlloyAlloy
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