Fiat India had showcased the sumptuous looking Grande Punto Sport at the Auto Expo’10 held in Delhi in January 2010. The Grande Punto Sport on display had a 1.3-litre, 90bhp multijet engine; which is basically the Fiat Linea diesel engine with Variable Geometric Turbocharger, rather the 75bhp 1.3-litre multijet engine on the regular Grande Punto. The Grande Punto Sport on display at the expo also had sporty looking 16” inch alloy wheels, a black effect panoramic roof, sporty interiors and body graphics. Fiat has decided to delay the launch of its Grande Punto Sport, but to keep the enthusiasts happy for now, they are launching the 90bhp Grande Punto. We, at CarWale had the opportunity to drive this hatchback before its launch and here are our first impressions.

fiat-grande-punto-90 bhpThe first thing you’d notice about the 90bhp Grande Punto, it that it looks just like any other Grande Punto on the road and that’s because Fiat India have done away with the bells and whistles which were there on the Sport. The 90bhp comes with chrome door handles, red stitching on the seat borders and the white Punto logo is now red and of course, the all important 90HP badge at the rear. The Linea and Grande Punto are based on the same platform, and now the two share the same powertrains (the 1.4-litre FIRE petrol and the 1.3-litre multijet engine), which makes the new 90bhp Grande Punto peppier than before. The 90bhp diesel engine will be available only in the Emotion Pack trim level on the Grande Punto. However the 75bhp multijet engine option will be available in all the trim levels from Active to Emotion Pack. The 90bhp rides on 195/60R15 Goodyear GT3 tyres shod on 15inch twin-six spoke alloys. Incidentally all Fiat’s running 15inch wheels get Goodyear rubber whereas the 14inch wheels (lower trim levels) typically get JK Tornados.

The turbo lag on the multijet engines is what most people have always had an issue with – be it the Fiat Grande Punto, Linea, or even the Tata’s like the Indigo Manza or the Indica Vista which share this powerplant. Thanks to the additional sweet-15 horses, the 90bhp Grande Punto did feel a little better than the 75bhp multijet and will no doubt have better in-gear acceleration thanks to the extra torque. One won’t find much of a difference over the 75bhp Grande Punto in city traffic, but this hatch will definitely shine on the highways, where the extra punch will kick in and making overtaking easier than before. Drive this car above 1800rpm and you will love the way the turbo spools and the engine propels you away. We haven’t done a quarter mile on this hatchback, but it should be slightly quicker than the Linea Multijet due to its lighter kerb weight. In our road test last year, the Linea reached the 100kph mark in 15.3 seconds in our acceleration run, so the hatch should have a time of at least half a second less. However we’ll have to wait till the final production car is available to us for a full performance & economy test, since the car that we drove was basically a pilot production car and there could be a few changes to the car at the time of launch.

As far as fuel efficiency goes, the car easily returns at least 15kpl even on full-throttle driving. We’ve experienced this with our long distance drives across the country as well as during the Fiat multijet drive across India. We also really don’t need to emphasize on the fact that all Fiat’s have a great ride & handling package and always seem to be a notch higher in this department than most of its competition and score a little better on driver involvement. And need we reiterate the fact that this chassis is capable of dealing with far more powerful engines than that are sold in India. Just take a look at the rally specAbarth Grande Punto S2000 and you’ll know what we’re talking about!

Fiat-Grande-Punto-Sports-90-HP logoIn a nutshell, what you really get is a top-spec Grande Punto with a beefier diesel engine which feels immediately better to drive. So you’ll get the Blue&Me kit, Airbags, ABS, alloys and power everything. The only small thing we were a little flummoxed with on this pre-production car, was the fact that the steering felt a tad heavier than it is on the other Grande Punto’s which we have driven during our tests and we will revisit this issue during our complete road test on the production car. Considering the features available on the Grande Punto, Fiat will possibly price the car at about Rs 7 lakh (ex-showroom, Mumbai) which isn’t bad at all considering that this is really a fully kitted out car that will appeal to the enthusiast.