Fiat Avventura powered by Abarth review

Fiat Avventura powered by Abarth review

Abarth is in India and, with Scorpion badges adorning the souped-up Grande Punto, we now have a hot and affordable hatchback. Fiat have now followed that up with the Avventura powered by Abarth (to give it its full name), which is basically the Avventura with the 1.4-litre turbopetrol giving the front tyres a lot to worry about. But here’s a small problem – you see both the Punto Abarth and Avventura Abarth are identically priced at Rs 10 lakh. And, personally, I am yet to comprehend the logic behind a hatchback dolled up to resemble an SUV. You don’t get the space or practicality of an SUV, plus with the raised suspension and addition of body cladding, you lose the dynamics the hatchback originally began with. Add performance to the mix and things begin to get even more absurd – you now have a heavy cross-hatch that would have performed better with less weight and lowered suspension. So we are back to square one.

One thing we all might agree on is that the Avventura is a looker. Fiat have managed to work butch SUV-details into the Punto and the result is quite pleasing. It seems Fiat wants to keep the Abarth brand as a niche offering so the Avventura is not exactly a full-on Abarth (full-on Abarth’s don’t have any visible Fiat badges). It shares the same motor and lovely scorpion-design wheels (running 16-inch 205-section rubber) with the Punto Abarth but that’s it. Oh yes, there is a badge on the rear door above the cladding that says ‘powered by Abarth’. It’s a blink and miss thing. So style-wise there isn’t much to differentiate from a regular Avventura.

It is the same story on the inside; the Abarth interiors are given a miss here. It isn’t bad at all as the Avventura’s interiors were never bland to begin with. Still I would have preferred some more zing to go with the sting.

And sting it has. The 1.4-motor is potent, pushing out 145 ponies, a far cry from the regular engines in the Avventura. There is a lovely surge of power when the turbo comes on song and, thanks to the raised suspension (over the Punto), there is considerably more torque steer than the Punto Abarth. In fact there is way too much of it and if the turbo comes on boost at the same time that the tyres find a rut in the road, you better have a firm grip on the steering wheel else the Avventura will change lanes before you even know it.

There is a bit of lag as the rev needle reaches 2500rpm but once past that, the motor pulls strongly all the way to the redline accompanied by a nice shove in the back. The acceleration caused quite a few raised eyebrows in traffic as the Avventura now gathers speed rapidly. This could make for a nifty sleeper car if not for the look-at-me design. Overall the performance isn’t as quick as the Punto Abarth (which takes 9.3 seconds to 100kmph, to the Avventura’s 10.2), no doubt blunted by the extra 100kg weight thanks to the cladding and the excessively heavy tailgate mechanism. The gearbox retains the same stick-in-the-mud feeling as previous Fiats.

The hydraulic steering is brilliant when you are not wrestling with it, though dynamics are blunted due to the jacked-up stance. The inherent brilliance of the chassis means there is good cornering grip but it does not deal with bumps as fluidly as the Punto and the ride is too springy. It lacks the suppleness of the hatch and the connected feel that the Punto delivers so impressively. Where it excels is on the rough stuff. The Avventura can take a fair amount of thrashing on bad roads and the 205mm ground clearance means you can take it out on dirt tracks where the grunt of the engine can be exploited. This car should easily make its way to Ladakh without fuss. Well, we did not take it to Leh but to a lake on the outskirts of Pune where getting to the edge felt like driving into the African Savannah with high grass and thorny bushes blocking the way. Here is where the cladding made sense. At places where thorny bushes were uncomfortably close to the car, the cladding would graze against the bristles with not a scratch to show for it. This car is rugged enough to survive the urban jungle.

So there you have it. If you like the idea of a slightly more rugged hatchback with a sting in its tail there is the Avventura Abarth. For everything else, the Punto Abarth will do just fine.

Words: Benjamin Gracias

Photography: Vikrant Date

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