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The raw appeal of Fiat Avventura

Despite spawning off a hatchback, the Avventura, unlike some of its confused ‘cross’ rivals, boasts a distinct, rugged personality

With the Avventura, Fiat India has plunged itself into the fledgling ‘crossover hatch’ segment of the Indian car market. Launching hatchback derived pseudo crossovers in this newly discovered vehicle class is the latest fad among the Indian carmakers. Refusing to emulate its minimally altered, plastic clad rivals, however, Fiat India has taken the tedious, more exhaustive route to make the Avventura look like an entirely new vehicle. Have they succeeded?

Fiat Avventura. Price: Rs 6.14-8.41 lakh
Fiat Avventura. Price: Rs 6.14-8.41 lakh 

Rugged style
Truth be told, the Avventura, in essence, like all its ‘cross’ rivals is a raised, beefed up Punto Evo. Fiat India, however, has made comprehensive changes to the Evo’s exterior design for the Avventura unlike the mildly brushed up rival products. The result, thankfully, is quite impressive, and exudes a distinct character, which most other cars in the segment are devoid of. The Avventura gets brawnier, more aggressive looking front bumpers, with plastic mouldings featuring titanium finish inserts wrapping the round fog-lamps. There’s black plastic cladding surrounding the car’s lowermost edge to give it a rugged, SUV-ish character. The rugged look is augmented generously by the big spare wheel mounted to the hatch at the rear, replete with a body coloured cover and a big Fiat emblem in the middle. The raised ride height of the car, along with the new gunmetal finish 16-inch 10 spoke alloy wheels and roof rails further adds to the Avventura’s go-anywhere expression.

The beige-coloured soft vinyl material on the dash has been replaced by this grey-coloured suede effect material on the Avventura. PICS/AMIT CHHANGANI
The beige-coloured soft vinyl material on the dash has been replaced by this grey-coloured suede effect material on the Avventura. PICS/AMIT CHHANGANI 

At the rear, the bumpers echo the frontal theme wrapping the big reflectors in titanium finish inserts within black under-cladding. The tail-lamps have been carried over from the Punto Evo, and look as fascinating as they do on the hatchback iteration of the car.

In all, the Avventura doesn’t come across as a half-baked, make-do kind of a job which most other ‘cross’ branded products in the segment do. It looks significantly different from its hatchback cousin and has some rippling muscles to flaunt.

Interiors impress
While the interior is largely shared with the Punto Evo, Fiat India has made some interesting changes to distinguish the Avventura from its hatchback cousin on the inside. The biggest standout element is the newly incorporated triad of centre-console mounted pods featuring a compass, a pitch and a yaw indicator. While these new additions aren’t ever going to help you raid the wilderness, they do manage to add some distinction to the car’s cabin. We would have liked them to be a bit more detailed, featuring a more modern design, though. The colour and materials used on the dashboard have also been changed, and the beige coloured soft vinyl inserts from the Punto Evo have given way to a suede effect material. The seats are trimmed in chocolate brown, similar to the door mounted arm rests and feature prominent Avventura lettering. Orange ambient lighting has been carried over from the Punto, and lends some more zing to the cabin once it gets dark.

Engine and performance
The Avventura is available with a choice of two engines, both shared with the Punto Evo. There is the 1.4-litre FIRE petrol motor, and the 1.3 MJD diesel with a variable geometry turbine. The 1.4 petrol engine produces 90PS of peak power at 6,000 rpm and 115Nm of peak torque at 4,500rpm. The power and torque figures for the 1.3 MJD diesel are 90 PS and 209 Nm respectively.

Those 16-inch 10-spoke gunmetal finish alloys are exclusive to the Avventura
Those 16-inch 10-spoke gunmetal finish alloys are exclusive to the Avventura

The diesel powerplant is the pick of the two, with more torque, and better in-gear acceleration. The diesel version has 65 kg extra weight, but it’s neutralised by the significant advantage it has in terms of torque output. The diesel engine, though not very responsive at lower revs, gets into its element after 2000 rpm, post which it delivers a tasty gush of torque which should bring a smile on the faces of enthusiasts. A relative lack of shove below 2000rpm may be of concern in slow moving city traffic or on single carriageways, but it’s not a deal breaker. The engine is mated to a 5-speed gearbox with long throws, which has a decent, fuss-free operation, but doesn’t quite match the slickest transmission units in the segment. The diesel motor on the Avventura is a punchy unit, while still being light on
fuel consumption.

The hatch-mounted spare wheel adds greatly to the Avventura’s appeal, but is quite complicated to remove
The hatch-mounted spare wheel adds greatly to the Avventura’s appeal, but is quite complicated to remove

The 1.4-litre petrol motor is relatively less forceful. It’s a practical engine with decent mid-range performance, but not the kind of motor which loves to be revved. It’s a sensible engine which will happily keep the car trundling along even at lazy speeds in higher gears — but doesn’t like being pushed to the limit. Like its diesel sibling, it comes mated to a 5-speed gearbox. Fiat isn’t offering a top-end variant for the petrol range, which ends with the middle Dynamic variant.

Ride and handling
The Avventura’s high point is its ability to insulate the cabin from some really vicious surfaces it treads. The Punto Evo by itself was known for having great disregard for bad roads; the Avventura, with its raised ride height takes the experience to a whole new level. In addition to the all-absorbing suspension, the noise and vibrations inside the cabin have been exceptionally well contained with additional cladding plastered in placed where the vibes filter in from. The steering isn’t very involving and has a rather vague feel about it. The increase in ride height has reduced the feel as compared to the Punto Evo. Having said that, for its 205-mm ground clearance the Avvenura offers a reassuring set of wheels which can be pushed hard without prompting doubt. Stability in a straight line is quite impressive. There is some body roll to be experienced around bends, but Avventura is still quite a dependable car to pilot enthusiastically.

Compass, pitch and yaw indicators find place atop the central AC vents on the centre console
Compass, pitch and yaw indicators find place atop the central AC vents on the centre console

Our verdict
The Avventura, though not a ground-up product, is a much better offshoot of a donor hatch as compared to some other similar ‘cross’ exponents in its class. Fiat India have put in great effort to endow the Avventura with a personality of its own. For the people who like their cars to look rugged, the Avventura scores highly. It may not be a full blown SUV, but the high 205 mm of ground clearance does equip it with decent capability to veer off the black top. On the downside, the finish and attention to detail in some areas is not very impressive. The newly-introduced trinity of pods over the centre console and the complicated mechanism to remove the hatch mounted spare wheel are some of the examples.

The Avventura has attitude and presence on its side, and it’s a good performer too. So if a tough guy image is what you plan to carry around, while sticking to a budget, the Avventura should be among the top options on your list.

Technical specs
Fiat Avventura
Engine: 1.4 petrol/1.3 diesel 
Power: 89 bhp @ 6,000 RPM / 93 bhp @ 4,000 RPM
Torque: 115 Nm @ 4,500 RPM / 197 Nm @ 1750 RPM
Fuel efficiency (ARAI): 14.4 kmpl / 20.5 kmpl

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