Rutted tarmac, broken tarmac and the absolute lack of tarmac doesn’t bother the Fiat Avventura too much...
With the popularity of the SUVs taking off like the proverbial rocket, we’ve seen a deluge of ‘wannabe’ crossovers invade our market. These half-car, half-SUVs, however, haven’t made much of a dent. Whereas the VW Cross Polo and Toyota Etios Cross are fairly attractive to look at, both have failed to capture the imagination of the public. Fiat, with its Avventura, is hoping to change all that.
What’s indisputable is that the Fiat gets off on the right foot. The Avventura immediately strikes you as being really well executed and attractive at the same time. The nose of the car is so thoroughly reworked, it is extremely difficult to see the original hatchback design behind the bodywork. Walking around the Fiat, you can spot aggressive styling bits almost everywhere and there’s an all-new bumper with tough-looking cladding integrated in it. The thick cladding carries on around the side, and walk around the back and you fall in love with the design even more. The big spare wheel cover is elegantly styled and is the distinctive design element. Although the spare wheel appears to be attached to the bootlid, it actually sits on a spar that is hinged on the bumper. The roof rails are made from lightweight aluminium which makes them functional and keeps weight on the top to a minimum. Building on the rugged-theme, the Avventura gets darkened 16-inch alloy wheels and bigger wheel arches.
Fiat hasn’t focused all its efforts on just the styling. The Avventura has been engineered to be a proper crossover. That means the ride height has been raised by a significant 20mm over the already high-riding Punto Evo. As a result, the Avventura’s underbody sits 205mm above the ground. To put it in perspective, that is a bit more than the EcoSport’s ground clearance and identical to the Renault Duster’s. Fiat has also tuned the suspension to match the new height and added an anti-roll bar at the rear to limit body roll. And, of course, there are the fatter 205/55 tyres that grip better. All this has added a good 65kg of weight.
There’s a fair bit of new stuff on the inside too. Most noticeable is the new ‘tilt meter’ and digital compass. The tilt meter works like the gyrometer in your smartphone and shows you what angle the car is currently tilted at along both its axes; pretty cool. The lower-portion of the two-tone dash is finished in a light grey suede-like material and the door pads are made from art-leather.
Apart from an added boot-release button on the dash, equipment remains the same as the top-spec Punto. So you get climate control, electric windows, a rear AC vent and an audio system that supports CD, USB and aux. While the ‘Blue & Me’ Bluetooth interface works great with voice commands and telephony, it still doesn’t support audio streaming.
The Avventura’s great blend of ride and handling shine through. Rutted tarmac, broken tarmac and the absolute lack of tarmac doesn’t bother this crossover too much. The long-travel suspension easily irons out medium-sized potholes and the well-damped suspension does well to keep the car composed over rough patches. Even when we drove it on gravel, the Avventura dealt with the semi-off-road situations surprisingly well. In fact, apart from the slushy mud where you may need four-wheel-drive for traction, it has the ability to handle mild off-roading quite well.
Despite the taller springs, the Avventura handles pretty well too. For one, there is limited body roll around the bends, and what’s even more impressive is that the Fiat doesn’t shift its weight around much even while negotiating curves in quick succession.
As for performance, the Avventura is powered by the same 92bhp, 1.3-litre diesel engine that’s found in the Punto Sport and Linea. Fiat has tuned the engine to make it more responsive at lower speeds and so it now feels marginally better before the boost comes in. Performance is quite nice when you use the slightly rubbery gearbox to keep it spinning between 2,000 and 4,500rpm. It feels reasonably punchy if driven this way and, though performance is not a forte, you can enjoy driving the car flat out over our worst surfaces. The Avventura can also comfortably cruise at triple-digit speeds for hours.
All told, the Avventura is one of the most promising Fiats in recent times. We love the tastefully executed, typically Italian styling, the unflappable ride quality and, like all Fiats, it feels nice and stable at speed. You do want at least a bit more power to really enjoy yourself from behind the wheel, and we wish the engine could be tuned to deliver some more performance. The Avventura is a great effort and a very attractive proposition; expect to see a lot of them on our roads.
The Avventura is priced from Rs 5.99 lakh (petrol) and Rs 6.89 lakh (diesel), ex-showroom Delhi.
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