Text: Srikant J

 

Avventura-copyWe all remember the Fiat Avventura from the Auto Expo early this year where it turned out to be a huge crowd puller. So much so that the design cues from it were as it is carried into Fiat’s Punto Evo which was launched just months before the Avventura.

Unlike most automakers in the recent past, who have attempted to convert a hatchback into a crossover, Fiat hasn’t just stopped at bracing up its hatchback, Punto Evo, with excessive plastic cladding or a few external modifications to present it as the crossover Avventura. They have reached deep inside the car and bolstered the technical specification to make it capable enough to handle mild off-roading with ease and even challenge the compact SUVs at their own game, in their own home turf.

_MG_3346-copyThe interesting fact here is, Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers classifies Avventura under the utility vehicle <4400mm category, alongside Renault Duster and Ford EcoSport, whereas there is no mention of either Toyota Etios Cross or Cross Polo in the list which means SIAM does not differentiate between the regular Etios Liva, VW Polo and their respective cross versions.

While there is no denying that images of Punto Evo flood your mind when you set eyes on the Avventura, there are enough design features to distinguish the two. Among the many changes which are visible in the first look itself, the most prominent is the tail-mounted spare wheel. Talk about one feature defining the character of the car.

_MG_3357-copyIt is not only about the looks, the spare wheel also has an interesting engineering behind its placement. While it looks like it is attached to the tailgate, it is hinged on to the chassis through the bumper and opens separately from the boot lid. This, however, increases the number of steps you have to perform before you can access the 280 litre boot.

Fiat has not left a single stone unturned to make Avventura look the part. The plastic cladding on all four sides of the car, faux skid plates on them, both at front and rear, the flared-up wheel arches and the well-sculpted hood give it a tough, go-anywhere look. The roof rails not only complete the compact SUV look but are quite usable too, owing to their sturdiness. Avventura sports 16-inch alloy wheels which come as standard.

You will notice the huge gap between the wheels and arches which is to give more travelling space to the tyres and is one of the major factors helping it tackle mild off-road terrain. This complements well the significant 10mm increase in the ground clearance over Punto Evo.

_MG_3412-copyAccording to Ranjan Kumar Mitra, Head – Product Strategy & Planning, there has been an addition of 38 new components as compared to Punto Evo to give Avventura its SUV like characteristics. “This has led to an increase in weight which was inevitable. We have tried to minimise the weight gain by using lightweight material. For example, the roof rails are aluminum which are light yet very strong,” he said. Avventura has put on an extra 65kg over Punto Evo which has taken the kerb weight of the diesel version to 1245kg, a whooping 230kg more than the Etios Cross and just 3kg shy of the bigger looking Ford EcoSport.

Open the chunky door to get inside and it is the similar Fiat world. The fit and finish is as expected – top quality, with good quality plastics and nice use of colours. The dual tone includes the regular black and a light grey colour (a welcome departure from black-beige combo) on the bottom part which uses a soft-touch material. But what will catch your attention even before you are fully seated on the just comfortable seats, are the high-terrain gauges, tilt meters with the compass sitting pretty on top of the air vents. While they surely add to the outdoor feel, the utility of it we will only know once it is taken off the beaten track.

_MG_3421-copyAvventura is available in two engine options, the petrol 1.4L F.I.R.E. petrol engine which produces 89BHP @ 6000rpm and 115Nm torque @ 4500 rpm, and 1.3L multijet diesel engine with a power output of 92bhp @ 4000rpm and torque of 209Nm @ 2000rpm. While on paper the power of diesel engine (the one that we drove) seems adequate, the low-end torque feels very low. Once it gains a bit of momentum, the power delivery kicks in which makes it a much more potent vehicle for the highways than for the cities. Despite the better tuned engine, the low-end power deficiency could be attributed to its heavy weight. Fiat claims Avventura returns a mileage of 20.5 kmpl in diesel and 14.4 kmpl in petrol.

With the higher ground clearance, the first victim is the handling of the car. However, Fiat said that it brought in global experts to make sure the ride and handling did not suffer. The suspensions were stiffened and a rear torsion bar was added to the package for it drives well around the corners. The body-roll for a car this tall was surprisingly less.

Looking at the overall package and the price band of Rs 5.99 – 8.17 lakh, Avventura is a good buy for someone who is looking for a lot of highway travel along with city rides and the occasional drive off the road.

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