Over the past year, the hot hatch segment has really heated up with the arrival of the Punto Abarth. Though this segment may not be large in terms of numbers, it is certainly a segment that has us car enthusiasts all excited about. So we thought we would pit the Punto Abarth not just against the stock Polo GT TSi, but against a remapped one as well to see what’s what. The results are really surprising.
So how did the Punto fare? Check out the video for the results.
So, it is clear, that the Punto is faster than even the remapped Polos.
Let’s not beat around the bush and dive straight into the most important aspect, the performance. Both the GT and the Abarth have a turbocharged petrol engine. Where the GT uses a 1.2 liter unit, the Punto Abarth gets a larger 1.4 liter unit. The GT puts out 103 Bhp and 175 Nm and the Punto Abarth makes 145 Bhp and 212 Nm. So round one goes to the Punto Abarth without a doubt. I have always loved the Polo GT TSi and thought that it was the ideal hot hatch, the way the car drove. But one drive in the Punto Abarth made me question that. The Abarth feels really quick. Any gear, any rpm, just floor the throttle and you will get an instant surge of power. There is a good amount of torque steer as well so keep that in mind if you are deciding to floor it. We were initially running normal petrol on it, but then decided to shift to 97 octane for getting the best out of the car.
So we first put it against a non-remapped Polo GT TSi, but the car did have a catback exhaust and a BOV.
The Punto was then made to take on a Petes stage 1 remapped GT which was producing 115 Bhp and 194 Nm (running only normal petrol though).
At last we put it against a GT TSi using a Revo 97 map. This car has a full exhaust, a Forge BOV, coil over suspension and makes 115 Bhp and 194 Nm as well.
Here is where the cars have a difference. While the Punto comes with a 5 speed manual, the Polo gets a really good 7 speed DSG. The gearbox on the Polo is far far better, without doubt. The Punto’s gearbox is not the best out there. It does have a rubbery feel to it and it does take some getting used to. I did end up selecting the wrong gear a few times. But once you’re used to it, you shall not have any issues. The GT has a better gearbox here, without doubt. The only downside to the DSG is that it cannot be launched properly which does give it a disadvantage in a drag race.
Here’s where the Punto shines yet again. The car is very responsive on the brakes and they are very sharp. The Punto gets all 4 disc brakes where as the Polo only gets front discs which is the main reason why the Polo looses in this test. Great job done by Fiat here.
The Punto was always a car with great dynamics. The whole ride and handling package on the Punto was spot on. The Abarth continues with that tradition. Fiat engineers have lowered the car a little, after all it is marketed as a a more sporty car. The steering has very good feedback and is well weighted. The only problem the Punto has is its weight. Push the Punto hard around corners and you will feel the weight of the car, which is a little unnerving at times. But the feedback from the tyres and the steering is spot on, even with the stock Apollo tyres. The Polo has a much lighter steering which doesn’t weight up as much as that on the Punto. The Polo has a softer suspension setup than the Punto which makes it more comfortable, but when you are pushing the car hard, it doesn’t give the same confidence that the Punto gives. Round 4 to the Punto then.
Here is where the Punto begins to loose out. The one thing that was really disappointing was the ergonomics of the car. Even in the lowest steering position, the Punto doesn’t feel comfortable to sit in. I struggled to get the right driving position on the Punto and this is something that Fiat needs to address. The Polo wins the ergonomics and seating position battle hands down. Even on the features front, the Polo is ahead. The Punto’s MFD and switch gear looks boring and not as appealing as the GT. The new GT also gets a touchscreen system where as the Punto gets a basic single coloured screen. The Abarth also lacks parking sensors. There is a shortage of storage spaces in the cabin as well.
It is clear that Fiat has concentrated on giving the Indian market a really fast hatch, and they have succeeded in that avenue. For the performance it offers, the sticker price of Rs 10.23 lakhs seems good. So if you are on the look out for a really fast and fun to drive hatchback and are willing to live with the quirks that the Punto possesses, the car is fabulous. Don’t get me wrong here, the Polo is a fast and practical hatchback, but not as fast as the Punto.
One thing I would like to add. The Punto with all Abarth livery really does get a lot of attention and isn’t to everyones liking. Maybe they should have made it optional.
A special thanks to the NASA team for helping out in getting the cars and the video done.