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Buying a Fiat in India has always been a challenge but the experience isn’t really as bad as it is portrayed to be. Our in-house Fiat bhakt brings you the insight
My love affair with Fiats dates back to early 90s when Dad bought a Premier Padmini while I was still wearing diapers. Since then, we’ve owned seven Fiats in the family (considering the Padmini and Jeep Compass) including the likes of Siena, Palio, Avventura and Lineas (Multijet and T-jet). Over the years, I have learnt that living with Italians has its own quirks but the Fiat badge in India was always doomed since the launch of the Uno, owing to dismal fuel efficiency figures, spare parts availability and poor service network. However, I can assure you that not all stories are true and having spent more than half of my life with Fiats, here are some of the myths that I’d like to bust about what has now become a regional European brand. And if you fancy, Fiats are quite popular in the used car market and considering how well they run over the years, I’d recommend you go for one especially when the asking price is low for a lot-of-car!
Believe it or not, the Linea T-Jet was the first car in its class to feature an all-round disc setup. In fact, its the only car even today to feature in the list, under the sub-10 lakh rupees price bracket. Every Fiat followed by the Punto had underseat AC vents for the rear passengers but unfortunately, Fiat brochures never spoke about these features. Even when it comes to safety, Fiat owners swear by both the build quality and features which have always been standard on cars that were followed by the Punto (EBD, ABS, dual-airbags). While most of the manufacturers skimp on tyre width for better fuel efficiency, Fiat went ahead and plonked 205-section rubber wrapped around 16-inch wheels on the T-Jet; a first in its class and still the only midsize sedan to feature so. The top-of-the-line Emotion variant also comes with a windshield blind which was again, a feature unheard of at the launch.
2. Spare parts
If you aren’t aware already, Fiat has one of the largest inventories in the country when it comes to stocking spares. That not only makes the parts affordable but also the sourcing period is limited to a minimum. If you don’t want to step out of the house, www.99rpm.com stocks almost everything right from floor mats to intake manifolds for almost every Fiat model. 99rpm will deliver the parts to your doorstep and also offer a warranty of 12 months.
The horror stories began for the owners when Fiat partnered with Tata Motors with no priority being given to Fiats at Tata dealerships. Since then, the perception hasn’t changed but Fiat’s service has been commendable. Especially after Jeep was brought into the picture, the dealerships have not only become a lot more ‘posh’ but the service experience has improved too. In terms of breakdowns, RSA is very consistent and never have I been left stranded on the roadside for more than a few hours. The first incidence was during the early days when unleaded fuel was a rarity and second was when a Toyota Fortuner rear-ended my Linea Multijet and ended up with a broken bumper and a dented bonnet while my Fiat was down with only a cracked bumper and a broken number plate. Yup, Fiats are extremely well built.
4. Fuel efficiency
The 1.2 and 1.6 petrol engines were heavy drinkers and so was the 1.4 that was found under the hood of the Punto and Linea. However, the turbocharged T-Jet motor on the other hand was rated better than the 1.4 NA by ARAI when it comes to fuel-efficiency numbers. The 1.3-litre diesel on the other hand has been among the most popular engines in the country being spotted under Maruti Suzukis and Tatas even. And for a reason! The fuel efficiency figures on the older Fiats were dismal but the turbocharged petrols are similar to the current generation turbo-petrol cars. Despite a heavy foot, the figure doesn’t drop before 10kmpl in my T-Jet while the Compass petrol is good for a 7kmpl. Quite acceptable by today’s standards.
5. Dealer discounts
Apparently, Fiat dealers earn a handsome amount for every car sold. Of course, the sales are limited but if you’re in the market for a new Fiat, don’t forget to bargain (till the government pulls the plug on BS4 sales, that is). The dealerships will offer discounts of up to 3 lakhs if you’re being polite enough. Fiat also offers loyalty bonus for existing owners. Other than that, used-cars come dirt cheap and it still makes sense to buy a Fiat because the service is covered with Jeep’s dealerships and parts are still available.