Kapoor; Photography: Mohd. Nasir
generally may not be as tall as the Germans but there is no denying the fact
that they are extremely handsome. The Avventura from the Italian stable of Fiat
personifies this in more ways than one. My only question is-- why did it take
so long for Fiat to bring into India such a handsome fella?
For those of
us who want to find fault in this beautiful machine…well, what can I say?
Indians love to find fault in everything. That is there in their DNA. When a
German arrives with a low sprung powerful sedan, we say it’s too low. When Japanese
come with a tiny little family car, we say it doesn’t have enough space inside.
Then when an American arrives with his big SUV, we say it’s too big. So this has
left the car manufacturers in India in a bit of a pickle. India needs a
spacious car, which isn’t too big and isn’t too small and most important of all,
it has to be cheap. Of course, the mileage should be such that it takes him and
his family to moon and back on a single tank full of fuel.
It seems that
the manufacturers in India finally came up with a product that is basically an
enlarged little hatchback, with a slightly lifted suspension, widened the
vehicle a little bit and put some plastic cladding around it. This gave birth
to the Crossover segment/ compact SUV segment.
One of the
first crossovers in the Indian market was actually (you’d be surprised to know
this) the Premier Rio. The Rio never really caught on. It is a good looker but
with not-so-great brand name backing it, plus the Chinese lineage, consumers in
India simply let it pass by.
the Mahindras were busy selling their tough looking SUV kind of vehicles, the
crossover/compact SUV segment got the real boost with the coming in of the
Renault Duster. It was an SUV with sedan comfort and it was priced perfectly
for the Indian market. Ford followed quickly with its EcoSport fitted with
their brilliant 1 litre EcoBoost engine and other equally impressive engines.
While these models hit it off well, manufacturers resorted to shortcuts and got
in products that did not actually set the markets afire. Like the Mahindra
Quanto, the Toyota Cross and the Cross Polo.
Fiat has now
entered this segment with its Avventura. One must remember that they did try it
before with the Palio Adventure back in the day, but you can’t really classify
it as a crossover.
So have they
got it right the second time around? Is the Avventura a competitor to the alpha
male of the segment? We found out with a test drive of the base petrol model that
costs just under Rs 6 lakh (Ex showroom Delhi).
what Fiat has done is like Toyota and VW; they based it on their hatchback.
Similarly Fiat based theirs on the recently updated Punto Evo. And for the
first time, it actually looks quite brilliant. It’s probably the best looking
crossover out there. Then again, it’s Italian, it obviously would. Remember,
they are the most handsome guys on planet Earth!
bumpers have a dual tone gray plastic cladding with fog lamps and they run
along to the back of the car over the flared wheel arches, the side skirts
under the doors and the rear bumper gets the same dual tone plastics as well
with two brake lights at the bottom. The rest of the car is identical to the
Punto Evo apart from the roof rails that could come in handy to carry things if
you have the accessories. The end result of all those plastics, curves and
bulges is that the vehicle looks like an Italian hunk, especially with its
spare wheel bolted at the rear.
spare wheel is bolted on a sway bar at the back rather than inside the boot
like the EcoSport to give it a more SUV look. But while in the Ecosport it is
bolted to the tailgate, this one is on a sway bar and to open the boot you need
to swing out the wheel and then open the boot. It’s a unique way to do things
but it can get a wee bit annoying every time you go through security check at a
mall or fancy hotel.
I want to
particularly give a piece of advice on the car’s key. The central locking
buttons on the key are almost not visible since everything is in black. There
are no silver lines or designs to distinguish the ‘open’ and ‘close’ buttons. I
found that not to my liking at all.
are a fascinating place to be in….it is delightful and intriguing. For example,
the seats even in the base model have a dual fabric and leather upholstery and
the seats are crazy comfortable with non-adjustable but perfectly positioned
lumbar support. The design just flows naturally, and every shape and line just
feels so obviously clever. It’s the same interior that you get in the Linea
T-Jet and the Punto Evo, but it also has a dual plastic a leather trim even on
the dashboard. It’s just brilliant. Initially the dash looks a bit intimidating
but once you get used to the knobs and buttons, you become a natural handling
it perfectly. The boot lid release button, the audio tuner, the volume button
the AC knobs, they all are placed perfectly.
Coming to the
centre console itself, I am a person with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
and I like my car to be spotlessly clean, at least the interior. So…that piano
black finish just drives me bonkers to see my fingerprints all over the
dashboard. In India you have got to keep all this in mind and make sure all
this is camouflaged in the right colours and shades.
the Punto Evo to the Avventura, the piano blackness has been reduced as the
storage compartment on top of the AC vents have been removed and replaced with
what Fiat calls “High Terrain Gauges”. Basically there are three dials there---
a compass, and two inclinometers that give you Pitch and Roll information for
when you would use it off road. It’s really fun when you take it off road when
you try and take it to the max. The rake adjustability of the steering wheel is
not among the best in the segment. Another uncomfortable bit about this car is the
dead pedal next o the clutch. It gets in the way every single time you press
the clutch. The height of the clutch pedal, I felt was a tad high.
But when you
drive the Avventura, it’s just magnificent. The petrol engine isn’t the fastest
with only 88bhp at its disposal, and 115Nm of torque, but the Avventura is just
so smooth and composed it’s just like being smeared with whipped cream all over
your face. The ride is soft and gooey and even though Fiat claim an economy of
14.4kmpl, but if you’re careful and don’t drive like a maniac, you’d be
surprised how well this car actually is on consumption.
All in all,
the Avventura is an Italian champ by all means. Now the question is how well
can they sell it? Something is definitely plaguing Fiat’s progress in India. It
is definitely not their products. These are not bad at all. It just needs a
dynamic leader to help it march forward.
1368cc, 4cylinder Petrol
Strut / Torsion Beam
Disc / Drums (No ABS)