Fiat reveals the Argo
Will the Punto's successor make it to India?
What’s common between the Aston Martin Vantage and the Fiat Grande Punto? They are both design icons and were both born in2005. While the Aston has a lot more charisma, power and driver engagement to get by, the Punto needs a replacement as badly as a parched throat needs some water.
It seems, the world – if not India – is one step closer to that Punto replacement. The Argo. The World Wide Web has been privy to camouflaged pictures, pictures of various parts of the Argo’s body in isolation and the resultant rumours and speculations for the car. But Fiat Brazil has released straightforward pictures of the hatch.
And it does look good. It shares nothing with the current generation Punto – which was quite a looker when it was out – but then that’s the thing with Puntos. While India has seen the Grande Punto only for the first time in 2009, the Giorgetto Giugiaro-designed Grande Punto was the third generation of the Punto family that Fiat first put out in 1993. And since then, Fiat has never followed a very rigid, family resemblance kind of design for its various generations.
It could also be the Argo will mostly sell in the BRIC and other developing markets and Europe will continue with the current Punto Evo, or they’d rebadge the Argo to be called Punto in Europe. Engine configurations, pricing, variants are all details that even Fiat Brazil haven’t revealed, yet. And nor has Fiat’s Indian arm confirmed anything on the company’s plans about adding the Argo or replacing the Punto with it in the company’s India line-up.
If you ask us, we are currently going with a ‘not likely’ answer to the question of the Argo making it to India soon. You see, Fiat Chrysler India is currently putting all its eggs in the Jeep basket – with full-fledged manufacturing, sales and distribution being set up and the Jeep Compass just a few weeks away from launch as you read this. Apart from minor cosmetic refreshes, the Linea and Punto – Fiat’s only two base offerings in India are not seeing any encouraging numbers or keen interest.
We reckon, after FCA thinks it has satiated India’s thirst for compact crossovers with the Jeep brand, it might then consider providing a boost to the Fiat badge. Of course, by that time, the Argo would have already been a few years old, and that’s not ideal, but we reckon that’d be the best way Fiat would like to go about it.
For now, all we can say is the Argo definitely looks the business. And the Linea/Punto lines badly need a replacement. Replacement that are beyond raising the suspension, sticking plastic cladding, plonking different engines and accessorising it with body stickers. But if the Argo is to make it to India, it would involve an entire refresh in the tooling and manufacturing process in Fiat’s Ranjangaon facility. With the focus on Jeep, can FCA manage that? It needs to. Because if Fiat has to maintain even the gentle momentum it has in this country, it needs all new products within the next three, if not two, quarters. Despite being a massive conglomerate, that’s not going to be easy for FCA, but the company needs to sow the seeds for Jeep without ignoring Fiat. And the Argo and its variants would just be the ticket to maintaining the minute momentum and avoiding product fatigue.