Snapshot: Next year, Fiat India is likely to launch a crossover based on the Grande Punto hatchback. Dubbed the Cross Punto/Punto Adventure, the car will be similar to the likes of the Skoda Fabia Scout and the Volkswagen Cross Polo.
A resurgent Fiat is bullish about the Indian car market. The Italian brand has been constantly adding independent dealerships and service centers across the country, as it breaks away from the Tata-Fiat distribution joint venture. The car maker will follow up the dealership expansion with the launch of new products, under both the Fiat and Jeep brands. One such product is a crossover that according to Fiat India sources is a “mix of a hatchback and a sport utility vehicle“.
While Fiat does have interesting crossovers in its global portfolio in the form of the Panda and the 500X models, the time line specified for the crossover launch in India suggests that the Italian car maker would be attempting a crossover based on an existing product, in this case the Punto. Dubbed the Cross Punto, the crossover is likely to be a Grande Punto with body cladding and other SUVish features. With the Punto already featuring a hefty 195 mm ground clearance, adding cladding and other masculine design features to the car will give it the credentials of a crossover.
Apart from the change in styling, which will get a masculine bent to it, the Fiat Cross Punto is unlikely to see mechanical changes. High localization levels, as is the case with the current Grande Punto, and manufacturing at Fiat India’s Ranjangaon factory, off Pune, will give Fiat the opportunity of pricing the Cross Punto competitively. Expect the 1.3 liter Multijet turbo diesel, and the 1.2 and 1.4 liter petrol engines to be carried over to the Cross Punto, along with the 5 speed manual gearboxes.
With the Cross Punto, Fiat India will be entering a territory that has not realized success for other car brands such as Volkswagen and Skoda. Both the Skoda Fabia Scout and the Volkswagen Cross Polo are butch, crossover-like versions of the Fabia and Polo hatchbacks respectively. Apart from stylistic changes, both cars are mechanically identical to their hatchback siblings and the Indian car buyer hasn’t taken kindly to them. While Fiat does have a tall ground clearance as a major differentiating factor, selling a Cross Punto in India could still pose to be a significant challenge.