Compact SUV segment of Indian automobile industry is on a roll and while it now spawns varieties of body styles across wide price range, the fact remains that conceiving a right product for this category is no child’s play. Only a handful propositions have succeeded here so far though desire to cultivate this sprouted potential is proving too tempting to resist for majority of carmakers. Latest to join the list is Fiatthat has launched its Avventura that was showed upfirst at 2014 Auto Expo. The company hadn’t been particularly successful in its go-alone inning after severing bond with Tata Motors and hoping to get lucky big time with this new rugged crossover. Now before Fiat feels so, Avventura has to overcome some of formidable rivals with undoubtedly Toyota featuring on top of foe list. Toyota has already put its roots down in compact SUV with Etios Cross and is gunning for segment crown. It’s no secret now that Fiat has to get over Etios Cross before it further climbs up to dethrone Eco Sport and finally the Duster. So what happens when Italian beauty and Japanese labor cross paths? Whether Avventura has got it all to beat Etios or Toyota walk away with gold medal? All this and much more, in this road-test comparison review.
How They Look Like
Etios Cross and Avventura are based upon their hatchback siblings though manufacturers of both vehicles have toiled enough to make these version look completely different; nothing like anything on road so far. Tasting design of Avventura has some upper hand over Toyota though on aspect of butch strength both these cars are matched equally. Both have got the massive black cladding running all-around the body that makes up these cars look sporty and rugged. Fiat has executed the nose well, with much more sophistication than we find on Etios Cross. Avventura headlamps are nicely detailed and stretched back in artistic style while Etios has taken no pain of alteration as it simple grafted Etios nose to Cross.
Fiat Avventura: Rugged yet sophisticated looks
Etios Cross tries to make up the sophistication loss with generous use of body cladding that is in fact used in plenty by Toyota. This tact does succeed in infusing macho character to Etios though it can’t hide away the overall plain and bland profile of this silhouette. On the other hand, Fiat has used the cladding with sense of proportion and its subtle appearance makes Avventura sensibly rigid on looks front.
Toyota Etios Cross: All muscles, no flair
Further the rea-mounted spare wheel on Avventura cement its crossover credentials though it is not very practical touch especially considering the parking and driving manoeuvres. Dimensionally Avventura is lengthier and has longer wheelbase while Etios Cross comes across wider and taller proposition. Further massive ground clearance of 205 mm of Avventura makes it all-terrain vehicle though same can’t be said about Etios cross that has its belly 174 mm off the ground.
Avventura: 4/5 Etios Cross: 3.5/5
How They Feel Inside
Like exterior, interior story also tilts towards Fiat with its chunky rotary dials at top of centre console making the ambience more classy and animated. Although these dials have little practical value in daily driving conditions, still no one can deny their aesthetic quotient to cheer up the whole cabin. And not only the dials, eve the centre console with black glossy finish and practical lay-out feels far more advanced, sophisticated and luxurious than Etios cross.
Fiat Avventura: Nice quality interiors
Toyota loses heavily on flair proportion as Etios Cross has nothing new to offer. It has same basic lay-out with centrally mounted instrument cluster and vertically stacked air-vents. Toyota has played around a bit with colours and new black theme does assuage the negativity, still the whole setting leaves a lot to be desired. That said, Etios Cross has no issues with the fit and finish quality on which Fiat seems to have erred enormously. Space at back of Etios too seems to be on higher side and the overall comfort is spot-on too.
Etios cross: New shade, older lay-out
On pure dimensions, Avventura boasts of lengthier wheelbase though it faults on ergonomics. Its rear bench seems to have gone overboard on reclining and not feels very comfortable on long journeys. Seat support however is good and rear AC-vents is sure to come handy in summer seasons. Further driving position of Etios Cross is more convincing than Avventura as Toyota engineers have been successful in carving out optimum height for driver. Further the boot space of Avventura can swallow 30 litres more luggage than 250 litres of capacity offered by Etios Cross.
Avventura: 3.5/5 Etios Cross: 3.5/5
How They Are Like to Drive
Traction issue of Etios Cross and Avventura is handled by 1.5-litre and 1.3-litre diesel engines respectively. Despite of smaller displacement, Fiat puts out higher 93PS/197Nm while Etios cross come rated with 67PS/170Nm. That said, Fiat here is heavier here and that’s to by margin of good 225 kg.
Fiat Avventura: Rev-happy engine lacks drivability
This extra flesh carried by Fiat spoils its performance and despite of having very capable performance figures, Avventura struggles to keep up with its competitors especially at low rpms. However, things improve once turbo spools up though the typical rush of torque associated with multi-jet diesel is not very apparent in Avventura. Rather it seems Fiat has watered down the torque delivery to provide a more linear output performance.
Etios Cross: Better drivability though mediocre revving
Etios Cross, on the other hand, shines exactly in lower rpm range where Avventura struggles heavily. It is far more drivable than Fiat and has got strong bottom-end to make you less prone to excessive gear-shift necessity. It has got string mid-range too though towards the end, this single cam motor tends to sound hoarse and feel strained. It lacks the free revving ability of Fiat motor and though it feels more competent in city, its highway performance is nothing to write home about. Both cars come with 5-speed manual transmissions that empower front wheels with lunging force. Toyota gear box shines here with its slick and short throws while Fiat feels slugging and unrefined. Even on clutch front, Toyota feels a tad lighter than Fiat though none of these clutches is as light as we have experienced in Maruti or Honda. Braking is via disc up front and drums at rear and feels sufficient to provide necessary retardationin both cars.
Avventura: 3.5/5 Etios Cross: 4/5
How They Behave On Road
When it comes to dynamic prowess, nothing can beat sheer ingenuity of Fiat. Avventura is no different and despite raised belly, in comparison to other Fiats, this crossover to happy to take whatever is thrown at it. It shows cunning combination of ride and handling qualities and its steering further whip up its driving pleasure. Whether it is corners or straight roads, winding Ghats or billiard-smooth highway, Avventura is just game for all. If you are driving enthusiasts who craves to thrown your car around, then look no further, you won’t get Avventura like finesse anywhere in world and definitely not on Etios Cross.
Fiat Avventura: Brilliantly dynamic
Toyota contender here falls short on overall handling refinement though it has got good riding quality. Owing to its soft-suspension setting, Etios Cross soaks us the bump and road intrusions quite confidently though it can’t hold a candle to handling displayed by Avventura. Body roll is much higher in Toyota than Avventura and Etios lacks on driving feedback as well.
Avventura: 4/5 Etios Cross: 3.5/5
On value for money (VFM), Avventura concedes some space to Etios as its top variant Emotion multi-jet retails at 8.17 lakh compared to 7.44 lakh fixed by Toyota for 1.4VD Etios Cross (both prices, ex-showroom, Delhi). Now choosing between these two is not an easy task and it indeed boils down to intended use of potential buyer. Etios Cross, with its sensible proportion and practicality, appeal to typical buyers’ looking for hassle-free, no-nonsense crossover. Further brand name of Toyota is another embellishment in Etios Cross package. Fiat Avventura, on other hand, will find favour with sporty personalities who love to flaunt their credentials and looking for some more excitement. For these outgoing folks, Avventura looks and more importantly, seems more perfect. It has more rev-happy engine and the way it hugs corner, is sure to plaster a big smile on faces of the extroverts. Still as this is comparison review, we have to have a winner. So though our mind hints towards the Etios Cross, it is Fiat Avventura that makes out heart go racing.
Avventura: 4/5 Etios Cross: 3.5/5