The market for hot hatchbacks in India is steadily expanding. While this category is just warm by international standards, India has been starved for affordable performance and her enthusiasts eager to lap up anything that comes with the promise of upsetting status quo. The Polo GT twins have been doing well enough to make Volkswagen consider even more powerful variants of the hatchback. Italian automaker Fiat, in its present form is an enthusiast brand out and out. The car maker, which gave India her first “affordable” turbo petrol engined car in the form of the Linea T-Jet, is keen to expand its footprint in the hot hatchback category.
The expansion will happen in the form of the Punto EVO and Avventura T-Jet models. Both cars will gain the 1.4 liter-4 cylinder T-Jet turbo petrol motor, currently seen on the Linea sedan. This engine, in standard guise, makes 114 Bhp of peak power and 207 Nm of peak torque, enough to make it the most powerful petrol motor to grace any hatchback sold in the country. Also, this very motor will power the Abarth 500 Competizione, with power and torque outputs bumped up to 158 Bhp and 230 Nm respectively. On the Punto EVO and Avventura though, this engine is expected to retain the 114 Bhp-207 Nm state of tune, to keep the cars affordable yet fast enough for the enthusiast.
Both Fiat cars benefit from a vault-like build and fantastic ride and handling packages. This build, while being one of the biggest strengths of both cars, also has proven to be the proverbial Achilles heel when it comes to performance, as the current crop of petrol and diesel engines powering these cars often get bogged down under the build’s bulk. The 1.4 T-Jet motor comes as saviour of sorts, seeking to add pep and verve to both these capable driving machines. Estimated prices for the Punto equipped thus is about 7 lakh rupees, with the Avventura to cost about a lakh more. A five speed manual gearbox will be standard fare on both cars.
Mid-2015 is the estimated launch time frame for the more powerful variants. While the Punto EVO with the T-Jet motor in tow will challenge the Polo GT TSI, the Avventura with the same engine will seek to make inroads into the Ford EcoSport 1.0’s market. In the recent past, there has been talk about Abarth treatment for both the Punto and Avventura. The latest talk suggests that Fiat is going slow on the Abarth kit in order to keep these cars more affordable, and this is definitely a move in the right direction. Also, the timeline for these cars’ launches seems to have been advanced to the first half of this year, from the previous launch estimate of second half 2015.
Turbocharged petrol engines are gradually becoming mainstream in India, with a mix of torquey performance, good fuel efficiency and low tail pipe emissions making them the choice of car makers across the board. We even have turbo petrol power in family cars such as the Bolt hatchback and the Zest compact sedan, proof that this is the direction that the Indian car market will take in the next half a decade or so.