The pseudo-crossover segment is among the fastest growing sections of our country’s car market today. Started by the now defunct Skoda Fabia Scout, this segment already has a handful of contenders in the form of Volkswagen Cross Polo, Toyota Etios Cross and the Fiat Avventura. Whilst the former two are merely regular hatchbacks slapped on with some body cladding, the Punto-based Avventura looks more crossover-ish, and boasts of higher ground clearance and a revised suspension. Having just come back from driving the recently launched Hyundai i20 Active in the picturesque town of Goa, we decided to spend some quality time with the Fiat Avventura, all in a bid to ascertain the crossover credentials of the Punto-based vehicle, with respect to the fresher competition. While this post will take you through the details of the Avventura’s exterior design, interior, features, engine performance, ride and handling, we won’t be presenting a direct comparison with the new i20-based crossover in this post. Instead, we will give you a good idea of the Avventura, when seen as a stand-alone entity. Check out our Fiat Avventura Diesel review for all the details on this interesting li’l Fiat.
Akin to other cars in this segment, the Fiat Avventura looks somewhat similar to its donor hatchback model. However, it needs to be mentioned that Fiat has done a good job with bestowing the Avventura with a unique identity, which is a result of additional styling elements like the more muscular bumpers and the hatch-mounted spare wheel.
At the front-end, the Avventura, on being compared with the Punto Evo, enjoys an addition of a more muscular bumper that has a tough looking plastic cladding integrated into it, a faux scuff-plate and bigger foglamps. When seen in side profile, the most noticeable changes include the plastic cladding at the lower-end of the body, the roof rails and the chunky looking rub strips with ‘Avventura’ branding. At the rear end, the car gets an updated bumper and a roof-spoiler, both of which inject some sportiness with the car’s design. However, the highlight here is the spare wheel, which, af the first glance, appears as if it’s attached onto the hatch, but is actually mounted on an arm with a hing mechanism.
In our belief, Fiat India has done a good job with infusing some muscle with the Punto’s clean and conventional design. The Fiat Punto Avventura surely looks more rugged than most of its competition, most of which is due to a more daunting stance and traditional crossover bits like the tailgate-mounted sparewheel.
Get inside the car and it is easy to note the stark resemblance with the Punto Evo’s cabin. However, you’ll be quick to notice the addition of a digital compass, as well as roll and tilt gauges. While the latter don’t seem to be too accurate, they do enable the Avventura’s cabin to earn a few brownie points from us. Other than this, the cabin remains largely unchanged and comes in a dual tone finish. Parts of the dashboard are made out of soft-touch plastics and boast of grey shade. Complimenting the black and grey tone of the dashboard are the door pads, which too have black plastics with grey faux-leather inserts. The cabin has enough space for for a family of four and comes kitted out with enough features for a car in this price segment. The seats are well bolstered and the front seats provide decent amount of lumbar support. However, the pedals seem to be positioned a bit oddly and you take some time getting used to them.
Powering this car is the highly successful 1.3-litre four-cylinder Multijet diesel engine that boasts of a variable geometry turbocharger (VGT). The engine produces a max. power of 92 bhp @ 4000 rpm and has a peak torque of 209 Nm @ 2000 rpm. On paper, the power figures seem adequate for a hatchback-based pseudo crossover. However, real world performance is nothing to write home about and the Avventura is surely not the quickest model in its segment. Progress is slow below 2000 rpm and the Punto-based crossover feels rather lethargic in stop-go traffic.
It is only after 2200 clicks when the turbo spools up and the motor comes out of its slumber. However, things are rosy only till about 3700 rpm, after which the performance mellows down by quite a bit. The Avventura feels the sprightliest between 2500-3500 rpm. We took the Avventura off the beaten tarmac and to some ‘soft roads’, where the lack of strong low-end performance became highly apparent. On empty streets and expressway though, it is a lot easier to keep the Multijet in the meat of its powerband and get rewarded with decent performance. The engine comes mated with a 5-speed manual gearbox that offers smooth playing between the cogs.
Ride and Handling
Fiat cars have always been in our good books for their good ride and handling manners, and the Avventura is no different from its cousins in this department. In spite of the fact that the Avventura has a higher ground clearance, the body roll is well controlled and pushing this car hard into the corners doesn’t get unnerving. The fat tires ensure that there’s sufficient grip on offer and the steering, which is a hydraulic unit, is highly communicative. The Avventura’s suspension also soaks in most of the craters with quite an aplomb and even off the road, on uneven surfaces, the Avventura’s ride quality remains almost exemplary. Well contained body roll, a direct steering, good composure and an excellent ride quality – the Avventura scores really well in the ride and handling department.
The Fiat Avventura is a very likable car. True, it doesn’t quite excel when it comes to engine performance, and the ergonomics could have been a tad better, but other than these two shortcomings, there is still a lot going for this pseudo-crossover. Much like the Punto hatchback, the Avventura benefits from great ride and handling manners, has a tried and tested engine and is sufficiently loaded. And to make it even sweeter, the Avventura, thanks to the various ‘crossover bits’ it has been bestowed with, has got enough street cred to catch a few eye balls. Fiat India seems to have got it really right this time around!
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