After years of quiet, Premier Auto has made its foray into the Indian auto market once again with its entry-level SUV Rio. The company earlier had a joint venture with Italian auto manufacturer Fiat Auto and the combination assembled the Fiat Premier Padmini in India, well known as the ubiquitous taxi – at least in aamchi Mumbai.
After the gradual phase-out of Padmini and a long quiet, Premier is now again back in the market with a model which is not only the cheapest SUV in Indian auto market but also the first Chinese four-wheeler in India. The SUV, which is called the Rio, has been priced very attractively. In this review, we take a look at the new Rio, which was introduced to India recently.
The Premier Rio is a compact SUV and can comfortably accommodate four adults along with a small child. All variants of Rio feature side claddings which give it a muscular look with rugged appearance and outside rear view mirrors that can be electrically operated. Other features include power steering and front electric windows, central door locking, manual air-conditioning, remote fuel lid opener, cup holder in console, rear wiper, rear windows demister with washer, rear fog lamps and day/night rear view mirror. The top model includes 15 inch alloy wheels, CD player with AM/FM radio, 4 speakers, keyless entry, ABS and EBD.
When we look at the car – well, it’s a small SUV to be sure. But somehow, the car breathes an amount of cheapness. The Chinese air unfortunately can’t be removed. While the Gypsy is of a similar size, it exudes character and paradoxically, is quite masculine. The Rio just doesn’t make that much of an impact, though the features are definitely up to the mark
The Premier Rio has been manufactured in association with Chinese auto manufacturer Zotye automobiles. All parts for Premier Rio will be brought from China and the car will be assembled at Premier’s manufacturing plant near Pune.
The Premier Rio will be powered by a four-cylinder, 65 bhp, 1.5 diesel engine developed with Peugeot’s TUD5 technology. The car’s peak performance is a maximum power of 65bhp@4000rpm and 152Nm@2250-3000rpm. Being an SUV, the car gives a comfortable ride with its high ground clearance, making it pretty suitable for Indian roads. Premier claims a fuel efficiency of 16kmpl on highways with urban driving conditions yielding a mileage of 12kmpl. The engine is fully compliant with the new BS IV norms.
We also expect Premier to launch another powerful version of Premier Rio which will be packed with a turbo diesel engine that delivers 98PS of maximum power. Such a model will compete with Mahindra Bolero, Maruti Gypsy and Mahindra Xylo.
The new Premier Rio bridges a big gap that was vacant for the want of a good entry level SUV. The Rio fits in this gap as a new super-mini SUV. If the price of the model is cheaper than Scorpio, so is the size of the car as well. In other words, the Premier Rio might just be an SUV for the people who want an SUV, but can’t afford the real thing.
The Rio is the first time a Chinese four-wheeler has been launched in India. India is known to be a very price sensitive market and the buyers make a purchase an automobile as a long term investment. With Indian buyers being very skeptical about Chinese products, it remains to be seen how Premier Rio will be adopted by the Indian customers.