Fiat Urban Cross review

Fiat Urban Cross review

It is actually the Fiat Avventura Powered by Abarth Urban Cross. What’s in the name? Well, the story of getting things right by learning from past mistakes. The Avventura as you might know was the cross hatch version of the Punto. It was meant to take on the Cross Polo, Etios Cross and to aim a little higher, even the Ford EcoSport. The EcoSport was right in its crosshairs due to the spare wheel mounted on the rear hatch of the Avventura. It was an interesting contraption but it didn’t really work well, the hatch opening mechanism was cumbersome and the quality of engineering left us disappointed. And since the Avventura didn’t come with parking sensors or a camera, the spare wheel cover would often sport a crack due to a parking mishap.

Beige and black two-tone interior livens up the cabin

The good news is that the Urban Cross comes without that hatch-mounted spare wheel, and looks much better without it. It also looks like a Punto with an Urban Cross badge on the back, which could be confusing to some. Fiat is now downplaying the Avventura name to position it clearly with the Cross hatchback tag though. If you recollect, the Urban Cross was showcased at the Auto Expo in February. The rugged exterior plastics were painted in contrast colours, the headlights showed fresher detailing and it was shod with 17-inch wheels. These changes haven’t been carried over from the concept. It gets 16-inch wheels that still look great, but a bit of an update to the design could have worked with the new name.

New badge at the back

On the inside, there’s more to cheer. The interior isn’t the black and dull grey combination now. A mix of beige livens the cabin, the slightly-tacky off-road dials on the centre console have been given a miss, and there is a crisp-looking touchscreen infotainment system in there. You now get Bluetooth connectivity and navigation, but sadly, this screen doesn’t double up as a display for the parking camera as there is none. You still don’t get parking sensors, which for a car that costs Rs. 9.85 lakh (for the Abarth version here) is a glaring miss. The new black and beige fabric upholstery looks better and gives the cabin an airy feeling.

New touchscreen infotainment system

This is the Abarth-powered Avventura, the only petrol in the line-up and it makes a solid 138bhp of power at 5500rpm and 210Nm of torque from 2000-4000rpm. The Urban Cross is lighter by 70kg, most of it thanks to the contraption holding the spare wheel on the boot being removed, and that has improved its acceleration times by 0.2 of a second to the 100kmph sprint. It now does it in 9.7 seconds, claims Fiat. What’s nice about this T-Jet motor is the strong mid-range. The surge of turbocharged torque is strong enough to make a quick overtake without a downshift, and through the entire rev-range this strong T-Jet feels like a cut above the rest of the hot hatchbacks made in India (besides the Abarth Punto of course). The torque tends to overwhelm traction at the front on full bore acceleration runs, (accentuated by the raised ground clearance) resulting in lots of torque steer. But if you feed in the power gradually, it is a very satisfying drive. Despite the increased ground clearance of 205mm and the associated roll, the Urban Cross is still one of the grippiest hatchbacks around. The plus side is that with the higher ground clearance over the Abarth Punto, the Urban Cross is much easier to drive through pothole-filled roads of the city and over steep speed breakers.

Looks better without external spare wheel

The Urban Cross on the whole is a better-packaged product now with its more upmarket interior and added features. From the outside it could have done with a more extensive facelift though with such few Avventuras on the roads it won’t be a deal breaker. The deletion of the external spare is also a good move and it makes it lighter, which translates to better performance. And prices have dropped significantly compared to the Avventura with the diesel starting at Rs. 6.85 lakh, and this Abarth variant being cheaper by Rs. 50,000 compared to the Avventura. The question is whether this is enough to revive Fiat India’s business case.

Engine: In-line 4-cyl, 1368cc, turbo-petrol
Power: 138bhp @ 5500rpm
Torque: 210Nm @ 2000-4000rpm
0-100kmph: 9.7sec (claimed)
Top Speed: NA
Price: Rs. 9.85 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi)

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