Cara Mia Fiat, grazie infinite

Ah no, we aren't posting this from Italy, if you are wondering after reading the title of this post. 'Cara Mia' is Italian for 'beloved' and all we are saying is 'Dear Fiat, thank you so much'.

We bloggers have a moral responsibility to control our emotions and think more than once before we type what we want. At times though, pent up emotions get the better of us and make us go bonkers. This post is a result of one such instance. Something similar happened earlier too and that's when this happened. Lamenting on the lack of sporty performance-oriented hatchbacks in India, we poured our hearts out hoping for a change.

It’s been almost four years since and an automotive brand we least expected has finally satisfied our plea. Yes, with sales of just a few hundred cars every month, Fiat was least expected to whet the appetite of car enthusiasts in India. With brands like Maruti-Suzuki and Hyundai, the two biggies that enjoy fat profits and control close to 65% of the Indian car market between them, choosing to remain silent, Fiat didn’t have to do this. With brands like Ford, Volkswagen, Renault and Honda that have successful sporty sub-brands in their global lineup choosing to remain silent, Fiat didn’t have to do this. But they did and we mean it when we say we can’t thank them enough.

You could argue Fiat is desperate to garner attention hoping it adds to its minuscule sales tally. But then, Skoda and Nissan aren’t doing much better either. Why hasn't their desperation led to something like this? Let’s give credit where its due. Fiat gave us the first 100 horsepower hatchback with the Palio 1.6. Fiat gave us the first affordable turbo petrol engine with the Linea T-Jet. And now, with the launch of the Abarth Punto a few days back, Fiat has gifted us Indians our first ‘true’ hot hatchback.

Take a look at the car's specifications. 145 horsepower. 212 Nm of torque. Acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in 8.8 seconds. 0 to 1 km covered in 30.4 seconds. Powered by a 1.4-liter turbocharged petrol engine mated to a 5-speed manual transmission. All this in a hatchback that you could drive for your daily commute to work, do your monthly grocery shopping in, take out for that road trip with family every quarter and even indulge in that occasional, once-in-a-year fun outing in a race track. 

If this isn’t reason enough to go crazy, what else is? Yes, the Abarth Punto isn’t perfect in every sense but then, no other car is.

The Abarth Punto not just packs a punch under its hood but looks the part too. Some of its elements like the bright red fog lamp surrounds in the bumper are garish but the car makes a loud statement for sure. In fact, with its 16-inch scorpion alloys and tastefully done decals on the sides, it screams sportiness and aggression. Let’s not forget the big scorpion pasted on the roof while we are at it! The changes aren’t restricted to the exteriors and the cabin is mildly spruced up too. The instrument cluster is Abarth badged and features the performance brand's red and yellow theme. The seats and gear lever have contrasting stitches in the same colours and the entertainment system can finally stream music through BlueTooth. There are sportier Abarth pedals available as an option too. 

Apart from the Abarth Punto, the Avventura also gets the T-Jet engine finally in a slightly lesser state of tune. Visually, there is just a ‘Powered by Abarth’ sticker on the rear door that hints at the power under the hood. The rest of the car is similar to the regular Avventura launched earlier. 

The Abarth twins might not add significant volumes to Fiat but they sure have done a world of good to Fiat's image and prospects in our market. Now that the Italian brand has done its part, let's hope its rivals take a cue and come out with performance cars of their own.

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