And there she is !
My first car - Fiat Punto Evo 90HP :)
As I am writing this post, my cutie pie is a month old and crossed 2K kms. So thought of sharing a few things about why I decided on a Punto, and user experience till date.
So there I was, getting rid of my bike and wanting to get a car. I always liked riding my Royal Enfield Machismo 500 - the power it gives and the respect you get on the road, but I always loved a car. So initially, I wanted a second hand small hatchback. I never considered a sedan as the driving dynamics are way different for a sedan and hatchback and I personally love hatchbacks as they feel more personal while driving. I have always found a disconnect in sedans. I always preferred diesel since its cheaper, gives more mileage and fun to drive, but was even ok if it was a well maintained petrol since second hand petrol vehicles are cheaper. So I decided that if im going in for a petrol vehicle, I would spend around 2L, and if it was diesel, 4-4.5L. Options that I considered : Alto, Alto K10 for petrol, and beat, figo for diesel.
I went rambling on quickr, olx and second hand car showrooms taking test drives of vehicles. I was warned by some to be careful in considering to buy a second hand vehicle from Chennai after the floods since most of the vehicles would have been damaged in some way. And to second that, I did find few test drive vehicles which looked spotless on the outside but on opening the bonnet, the engine looked like it was soaked in water for a month. Driving felt weird. I also test drove cars like vw polo, i20, punto, etc from showroom just to get a feel of how each car handles. I also wanted to know which new car is a best buy for me If I went in for one.
Hyundai i20 - I went to Hyundai showroom and sat in an i20. My head hit the upper edge of the door while I went in. Ouch! I again banged my head while getting out. Ouch again! So I thought the seat might be higher and I lowered the seat and tried again and banged again. The space between the seat and the roof seemed wrong in some way. Then I went for a test drive. The undulations in the road surprisingly crept inside the cabin and on to me, which really put me off. The interiors didnt seem very high quality, but it was OK.
Volkswagen Polo - This is one car that I really loved. The complete electronic steering and every small detail like the gearshifts, the reverse beep, was all top notch. The interiors were just best in class. Nothing beats a VW. And the 1.5L engine just pulls like crazy - Everything was just amazing but for one small thing - very less space in the cabin, and too much engine noise. I literally felt like I was driving a car smaller than a Maruti 800. There was no extra room for my leg to move anywhere and the backseat was just too cramped. Nobody can sit if I pull the driver seat back. The feeling that I had was there was no point in spending so much and buying a car when your parents can't sit comfortably in the back seat.
Maruti Brezza, Baleno, S-Cross, etc etc:
I was OK for a Maruti alto or k10 for a second hand, but never considered Maruti Suzuki for a new vehicle. Reason - Safety and build quality. So I visited the NEXA showroom and checked out the Baleno and the S-Cross. Sitting inside the cabin and looking at the interiors, I was like - why Maruti, why?? You guys make vehicles for the mass market and with an excellent service network, but why cant you make one proper hatchback with high quality materials and an elegant design? The outer body feels like a tin can. Maruti Suzuki should have atleast given some importance to the s-cross, but that too didn't happen. So I left the showroom without even taking a test drive.
I had taken test drive of the Punto long back while I was in Bangalore and found the car pretty good. Body roll was evident at high speeds (unlike the polo which sailed smooth) and one thing I didn't like was the extremely long clutch throw. Fiat has to definitely do something about this. Cabin was pretty well sealed without engine noise creeping inside (unlike the polo).
My decision to go for the Punto:
As I was taking test drive of second hand vehicles, I started noticing a lot of things. Maruti suzuki - something or the other gets loose - like nuts, bolts, etc and some noise is always squeaking from some end of the car.
Volkswagen - Too much engine and AC noise. Its just too much which is kinda irritating. Punto - And then one fine day I got a call from the second hand showroom lady saying that there is a punto, do you want to check it out.
So I went over and took a test drive. The seats and dashboard were a bit dirty and dusty. But that is something which can be cleaned, so I didn't mind. I just felt so amazing while driving that car. It had done more than 55K kms on the odo and not one squeaking sound from anywhere. The clutch and everything was so smooth. I was like - how much is this? She said 4.5, negotiable. I decided - why not go for a new Punto.
And after buying, I am really happy I went in for this. The space inside is huge - feels like a big car. Even back seats are extremely comfortable. The cabin is so silent one of my friend asked me - is this petrol? That is one happy Fiat customer :)