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Old 5th February 2007, 21:57   #1
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"Procrastination is the bad habit of putting off until the day after tomorrow what should have been done the day before yesterday" -
Nepolian Hill.

So here it is finally. I was going to put on 1000km review first, but then nothing much I could write about then, apart from being excited about the new possession. 10000km mark came and left, while I was still debating over Cannon S3 IS or Cybershot H2/H5 to take snaps of the car. 20000km mark crossed few days back and I was still writing a review. So finally here it is today. On second anniversary of the car.

Sales Experience:

This has been discussed earlier in another thread. (link to the thread). Please refer to that thread.

About the Car:

Mine is Petra EL. At that time, there was no Petrol ELX model. So I had to be content with EL model. EL model was almost fully loaded though and came with mainly following (I am not listing A.C. and RVMs here).
  • Power Windows.
  • Power steering,
  • Central locking.
  • Rear defogger.
  • Body color bumpers, stone guard.
  • Factory fitted 6 speaker Nippon Music system (offered by dealer as part of deal).
I fitted following accessories:
  • Side moulding straps.
  • Garware sun film on windows and V-KOOL in front.
  • Stanley leather seat covers.
  • OEM Fiat Alloys (same as GTX).
  • OEM Fiat Fog lamps.
The only thing missing is rear spoiler. I sent the car thrice for servicing and they never had this in store. *sigh*

Footware:

I changed OEM Bridgestone tube type tyres to Goodyear Tubeless GPS-II 175/65 R14. They offer fairly good ride and grip. Of course, I am yet to switch on to any other tyre set, so can't benchmark it against anything. So far so good and I keep the fingers crossed!

We had been to Dive Agar (in Konkan) beach last year. And every turn in Mulshi/Tamhini ghat told me with screetching noise that I better have fatter rubber on the car next time. Point noted!

I blew up one tyre in first few months after a sharp edged earthen pot ripped open sidewall of front tyre. Replaced it at Rs. 2500/-

Performance:

Simply way to describe it. This car rocks. Period! Review complete. Alright, all those nay-sayers, read on.

Low end torque is not really exciting, but the mid range is amazing. If you hear a petra owner calling 3rd gear acceleration as "cheeze", just accept it Or, drive it yourself to find out what it means. 3rd gear is a delight. I found 4th gear rather redundant, since many times, I switch from 3rd to 4th to 5th in quick succession. Similarly many times, I find myself downshifting directly from 5th to 3rd than 4th.

The car cruises comfortablly at 80-110 kmph band without any sign of strain on engine (at less than 3K rpm). The engine grumbles at < 2500 rpm, but starts growling once past 3000 k and anything around 4K and above is delight to ears. I've not really redlined it (may be once or twice) since I am quite sedate driver. Well, most of the times that is!

The gearshift is undeniably THE BEST I have ever come across. It slots in perfectly with no play and smooth shift. No, not because this is *my* car, but because it really is so good. It is far better than the Optras, Vernas, Balenos, esteems and other B-segment cars that I have driven. The clutch pedal is hard though and it takes time to adjust to it.

OT: One thing I keep on wondering all the time though! Do we really need fast cars in India? I drive mainly on NH4 (Mumbai-Pune-Kolhapur-Belgaum stretch). Even when the roads are empty, I am always scared that some moron will cut the lane or simply stroll across the road as if walking in a park. So, anything above 110-120 means very short bursts for me.

Ride:

There is no doubt about it. The ride HUGELY depends on the tyre pressure. Fiat appears to have it really optimally set up. For light or medium lead, it has to be around 28 psi and for heavy load, it is recommended at 31 PSI. Anything below suggested pressure makes the ride super smooth, but adds on body roll and handling is no more as crisp as at the recommended tyre pressure. Being a smart alec, you go overboard with pressure and ride becomes harsh.

At low speeds, Petra's ride is slightly on harsher side than softer ones like Hyundais. Though at higher speeds, it becomes increasingly better. The suspensions "thuds" over potholes unlike other cars but the car doesn't lose composure at any point of time.

The ride in rear seat is quite pleasing (though I sit there very rarely when my brother is driving). The rear seat incline could have been more than what it is and more lower thigh support could have been ideal.

We almost went off-roading when I visited Gulbarga-Wadi-Shahbad last year. Occasionally, we had to stop, get down to see the road through craters and drive on. But the suspension held up quite neatly. Another example! Dombivali has 17 speedbrakers at its entrance (yes, I counted them) and some of them are really BIG. But, even fully loaded car never scraped against any, albeit at 5-10 kmph speed. Ground clearance gets full marks.

Handling:

Handling goes hand in hand with Ride. Similar to ride, it depends on tyre pressure. I have found that adding 1-2psi more than recommended pressure makes the handling real crisp (somewhat at the expense of ride). Turns and twisties are absolute fun. Of course, except for the co-passengers who get thrown around merrily.

Interior and Looks:

That car is a novelty for most of the people. It looks handsome in jet black. Having said that, people still wonder how come I bought a Fiat? The interiors are 2 generation behind current competition. Rather it look s as if it is there from "baba aadam ke jamaane se"!

I absolutely like the ergonomics though. The controls are very neatly placed for drive and light up well in night. Rear window controls can be operated both by driver and front co-passenger. There is dead pedal next to clutch and all that. Glove box is rather so-so and the reading lights plastic is worst than B-segment cars. The console is decent with Tacho, Speedo and fuel gauge.

BTW, you just can not keep anything on the curvy dashboard. So, No ultimate safety feature for my car, the Ganesha Idol on dashboard!

After Sales Experience:

It is definitely as dreaded as it is made out to be. The service folks at Ashwamegh are very courteous and helpful all the time. But few times, they lack attention to detail. I had to point out certain things on job card, which were not taken care of when I went to take the delivery. But, the service has been decent enough all through out. Anyway, I believe, Ashwamegh is closing their dealership, so next time, I'll have to catch up with either B.U.Bhandari or Jay-Vijay.

Overall Ownership experience

Did you really read through till here? Congratulations! You have won free return ticket to Adis Ababa for yourself and your partner. Just kidding!

Even after onslaught of new breed cars like Aveo/Fiesta/Verna, this car still looks elegant and drives elegant. It rides well, it handles well and it simply ROCKS.

So now, it's time to head back home and go for a spin on 2nd anniversary.

Disclaimer: Author does not take any moral/legal/financial responsibility, if you have got acute headache after reading through this long boring post.

Miscellaneous:

The a/c is quite good. I have read rave reviews about Baleno a/c and have no idea how Petra compares to that. But, it cools quite well. Definitely, it never feels inadequate. However I badly miss climate control in this car. I end up fiddling the a/c controls quite often.

Lastly, the million dollar question! "Average kitnaa detaa hai?" Palio doomed in market because of FE perceptions along with a/s/s and brand concerns. In my ownership experience of last 2 years, it never dropped below 10. I don't use a/c 100% though, which probably explains it. In Winters, I get between 11-12 kmpl, which I am more than happy about.

Issues List:
  • When I took out car to the express highway for first time, the steering used to vibrate around 90+. Turned out that wheels were not balanced after switching to alloys/tubeless. No issues after wheel balancing.
  • Wifey broke off co-passenger sun-visor. Replaced during first servicing. (with greased finger marks on visor. Poor workmanship).
  • Rear right tyre had puncture for long time, which I fixed last month.
  • Rear reading light failed, which was replaced, but the casing came out of roof. Never got fixed by Ashwamegh. Again poor workmanship.
  • Driver side control for Front left window was not functioning due to loose contact. Fixed during servicing.
  • Rattling noises were fixed during servicing as and when cropped up. Good job on that.
  • Got front right door painted since a Scooty tried to squeeze through imaginary space and created ugly dent on lower side of front door. Top quality paint job!
Wish List:
  • Rear spoiler.
  • Factor fitted audio system has cassette player and no MP3. This has to be replaced.
  • Better interior.
  • Rear wiper (does one need that though?).

Last edited by ported_head : 6th February 2007 at 01:17. Reason: Merged on request
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Old 5th February 2007, 22:05   #2
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Wow! Now that is what I call a well written review- I guess ur procrastination was worth it at teh end of the day!
Quote:
(I am not listing A.C. and RVMs here
But u just did
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Old 5th February 2007, 22:08   #3
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Nice one there RX135! Would love to see your cars pics...or better still, see it in person :P.
And Ashwamegh closing their dealership??? For both Fiat AND Bajaj?

Any minor glitches you had till date?

Last edited by sajo : 5th February 2007 at 22:09.
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Old 5th February 2007, 22:21   #4
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Very nice review.

Had a chance to drive a Petra ELX a day before, and you are right, the 3rd gear is just amazing. Mid range is exceptionally good.

Have you tried K&N filter or some other mod for improving lower end response?
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Old 5th February 2007, 22:29   #5
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Well written review RX135. 4th gear as you said may be a kind of redundant as you said. Both 4th and 5th gears in Petra have overdrive capability.
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Old 6th February 2007, 00:21   #6
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Nice Review RX!

Palio/Petra is built to last Cars, and the fact that they are in Indian market for 5 - 6 years and still comparable to the new Cars launched recently is a Great Honour in itself! Cheers!
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Old 6th February 2007, 00:21   #7
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Very neat review there RX.Your black Petra indeed rocks in the pictures from the other thread.It would be nice if you could upload a few pictures of what it looks after 20000 kms.IMO, thunder black looks good on the adventure and petra.But it looks just about ok on the palio.

Also, have you faced any issues with the car,apart from the wheel alignment issue off late,which I would'nt really consider as a major one.

And I agree with you on the service bit.Its quite good in Pune and Mumbai.Have heard only good about Ashwamegh and Jay vijay.In Mumbai too,Shaman has been good most of the times.These guys are really courteous and helpful,especially off late.Probably, the tata-fiat tie up has helped them regain some confidence in the company.

Good luck RX.Rock with your Petra on the rocky roads of mumbai or pune for years to come.
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Old 6th February 2007, 10:11   #8
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Nice one! Coincidently, today I was driving with my friend to office. We were discussing about Petra as a used car option. Nice to see your review after that
So wherez the free tickets!
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Old 6th February 2007, 10:30   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roms View Post
Very neat review there RX.Your black Petra indeed rocks in the pictures from the other thread.It would be nice if you could upload a few pictures of what it looks after 20000 kms.IMO, thunder black looks good on the adventure and petra.But it looks just about ok on the palio.
I agree with you. In my not-so-humble opinion, Petra looks best in Thunder Black. Adventure looks intimidating in red and passion purple (is that the correct name?). Palio GTX never had thunderblack. It has dark metallic grey shade, which looks close to black. Canary Yellow and Formula Red are the way to go for GTX.

I'll post pictures over this weekend. After recent door paint job, the car was fine for last 3 months. Like all good things come to an end, I discovered new dent on the rear door last week. Someone has managed to bang up against rear door in parking lot (company or home). The thing I hate most is, I discover them only in the morning, when I am heading towards the office.
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Old 6th February 2007, 11:10   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RX135 View Post
Palio GTX never had thunderblack. It has dark metallic grey shade, which looks close to black.

That's why I say that Fiat always changes the colours of their cars according to whims and fancies.The earlier cars from 2001 to 2003 had the galaxy black shade which was discontinued.Thunder black was made available only for the Palio diesel some time after its launch.Surprisingly I have seen quite a few thunder black palios,the 1.2 nv versions to be specific.I dont think the cars were repainted,because I have seen brand new cars on the roads with that shade. Dont know whether they were made to order or provided officially by the company.

Last edited by roms : 6th February 2007 at 11:12.
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Old 6th February 2007, 12:05   #11
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Black Petra has a good presence and performance any way is known. The only problem with Black and other dark colors is any little scratch shows up prominently. I have a couple of minor dents due to door hits/ two wheeler brushes in parking lots and traffic. They do not show up much on Silver. Seems like we purchased our Petras around the same time, I picked up mine in Dec 2004 (30th or 31st can not recall).
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Old 6th February 2007, 12:41   #12
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Nice review RX135.
And you are not the only one procrastinating on putting up owner reviews.
Like you, I started with a 1000km review, forgot about it, then tried to update it to 10000 kms. Still did not get around to completing it. Now the car is at 14.5K kms and nearing the 2nd birthday. Maybe I'll make it on its 2nd birthday finally.
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Old 6th February 2007, 12:49   #13
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Default One of the best reviews I have come across

Hi! Great review. Being a recent FIAT convert, I agree with you fully
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Old 6th February 2007, 13:12   #14
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Hmm.... Nice review...good to see another petra owner being so happy about his ride.
I do have it in black color, and the car looks really great in this color.
Never faced any issues till date..though I have just driven just 9K in almost 2 yrs...( thats because my office is at walkable distance) and used it just on weekends or long trips.
Petra on Highways is a real delight.. specially with the weight factor, it does give some kind of safety feeling also.
cheers
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Old 6th February 2007, 15:42   #15
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Great review RX. All the pros and cons you mentioned match to my fellings about my Palio.

I am also planning to write a long term review of my Palio D. I am sure once it is completed it will look like a copy-paste job of your review.

I too have the Goodyear GPS 175/65/R14 tyres with tubes on my car. As you said they make lot of screetching noise but the handling is very good and the ride is decent at the right air pressure.
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