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Old 18th March 2014, 00:29   #1
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Default The Tall Kid - My Premier RiO 1.5L Diesel

I looked around in team BHP and could not find a user review on the RiO. I dont think any BHPian owns a RiO yet. Not without reason. Its a car that has taken a beating in the few threads it commands in this forum. My expectations from this little SUV from premier wasn't much to start with. I will try to give a short report on the 1.5 diesel RiO that , by some quirk of fate, is standing in my yard right now.

Background

RiO. I first saw this car about 3 years ago. At first sight it looked somewhat of a cross between a safari and gypsy. It was not bad to look at, it wasn't a raving beauty but it looked, well.. it looked different. I first got to drive this car in 2012. My cousin had this car and I borrowed it for a short trip to bhalukpong, near the Assam - Arunachal border. This trip really put forward the RiO’s strong points. It was monsoon and the roads were a mess. It was a sea of mud and slush and no hatchback could have made it, but the tiny premier put up a brave face and on we went sliding and grinding in the mud. There were several points where it had to wade through substantial quantities of water, but it overcame all those obstacles with ease. After that I had a soft corner for the RiO, and also a non-buying interest.
I then borrowed the same car in December and made a long drive to the north Bengal hills and back (5 days covering about 2000kms). The car didn’t disappoint. I will come to the engine performance later, but a few sections tested the car. One was on the way to a lodge somewhere above peshok and the other was in the road to rishop from lava. Here the engine did pull and also chunky wheels and the narrow dimensions helped.

Anyway after these two trips, i wasn’t adverse to having a RiO in my garage. The only problems were-

1) Company- It was a premier. Unknown quality/ after sales/ probably everything else.
2) Price- At 7l plus for the diesel, I was never going to buy it anyway.

Fast forward to 2014, I bought a new city ivtec and also a used nano for market trips etc and I’m fully satisfied with both these vehicles. My sister drives an accent and it was getting old. She has a thing for tall cars. Didn’t particularly like the wagonr , but was interested in scorpio. Budget was 4.5 max, hatchbacks ( except swift and wagonr) were out. We were looking for deals on used scorpios mainly. Saw a few examples but were not happy with the condition. Plus scorpio was kind of too big for daily use in a city like Guwahati. Then suddenly the topic of a used rio came up, why not? Found just two vehicles for sale in our city, but neither was in really good condition. The search continued and fast forward another 4 months, and this 2012 RiO came up, immaculate condition, well maintained and almost showroom condition. It was the top model (Lx) and run just 4700kms ! Yes just 4700 kms. No odo tempering. The owner was a rich guy who lives in dubai and he had bought this vehicle on a whim on one of his trips home. The family has several cars and after this guy left, this car was only doing the odd job of picking up a child from school etc and was soon up for sale. The problem was the asking price, it was 4.5l .I did not bargain about the price at that point and insisted that they bring the car to the premier dealership for assessment. Now, the dealer is very close to our house and is known to me. At the dealers, the head mechanic certified the car and said it is in fine condition and just needs a service. After some hard bargaining the price was reduced by almost a lakh and suddenly it was a super deal. Deal done immediately and I got the car home next day itself. The RTO works are still in progress as i write.

Impressions-

Looks- It is a pre-facelift version, looks are subjective but I like the looks from all angles except maybe the front. The large wheels give it a chunky look and the black claddings tries to put forward its compact SUV credentials. The car, although very narrow, looks proportionate and the tailgate mounted spare (covered) looks good. The paint quality is good and panel gaps are definitely there but not to any atrocious levels. There is no denying the fact that this looks like a hatch on stilts. But there is something of the gypsy in the body structure. The car is very less known to the general public and I still have people walking over and knocking on the glass to enquire about the car especially at fuel stations. It sure lives up to its tagline ‘be different’.

Interiors- Plastic quality is cheap and not very well put together. But it has all the basic things. The only problem I have is that because of the narrow cabin, my right elbow sometimes brushes the door. The power window switches are placed in a very awkward position and so is the ORVM adjuster. Other things are ok and in their expected positions. I like the higher seating and commanding driving position and also the easy ingress/egress. Visibility is excellent and even a newby driver won’t have much trouble manoeuvring or reversing the car. Seats are comfortable ( at least the front seats are) and i wasn’t tired after the long trips in the other car. The rear bench is good for only two people. Very tall people might have a space crunch. I am 6 ft tall and I am just about comfortable. If you are 6ft plus and hefty built, you won’t be too comfortable anywhere in the car. The rear seats have reclining facility and this is very welcome. The rear bench is actually two individual seats and they split 50-50, and can be individually reclined. Headroom is plenty and there are adjustable head restraints in all the four seats. A few storage spaces are there and a single cup/ bottle holder behind the handbrake. Cigarette lighter come factory fitted. The AC cools pretty fast and all in all, the cabin isn’t a bad place to be in, just that a 5th occupant isn’t welcome at all.

Engine – It is the 1.5 diesel. The same old puegeot TUD5 derived engine. It isn’t BSiv compliant, but is quite fuel efficient and perhaps reliable.

Crank up the car, and there is a tremendous racket from the engine bay. Yes the engine is loud and there is a lot of clatter at idle. You feel like you are starting up some big commercial vehicle. But it quietens down a few notches when you get moving. Rev the engine hard, and yes you again hear the gruff response. I feel this motor is made more for cruising than hard revving. The power on paper is some 65 bhp but the car doesn’t feel that underpowered especially in the turbo range. The turbo kicks in post the 1800RPM mark and then it feels quite peppy. There is some amount of turbo lag and in traffic, you have to keep changing gears to try and keep the engine in its power band. The short gear ratios also mask the lack of outright power. All in all, it is a good car to potter around town and also to cruise the highways. The engine feels relaxed at triple digit cruising speeds and can keep doing it all day, however the RiO is not a car that will inspire you to go much beyond the lowest triple digits. The gear shift is surprisingly smooth and the lever nice to hold.

During the trip to the hills, on steep gradients, It had absolutely no problems pulling up, especially if RPMs are kept around 2000. The RiO is a car I wouldn’t worry about taking up the steepest slopes. Only once did it struggle to pull. There were 5 people on board with a packed boot and we were starting from a standstill in a very steep track. I had to slip the clutch and build up the RPMs in 1st gear to get it moving. On most steep and narrow tracks this rear wheel drive vehicle felt nimble and in its element.
The ride quality is decent and the USP of this car is bad city streets. Narrow, potholed, waterlogged streets or muddy rural roads are its strong points. There is frequent water logging in most parts of my city in the monsoons and the Rio will have to do duty ferrying family members when the other sedans and hatches will be scared to move out of the garage. The chunky wheels with 205/70/R15 tyres feels big for the vehicle and so also the ground clearance. At a full 200mm, you don’t worry about any speedbreaker or broken roads. The tyres look good, but it is a Chinese product and probably of questionable quality. My cousin’s RiO has clocked about 70k kms and the tyres are still holding up, the rubber is probably tough, but I’m really not sure. The narrow track of the car, while an advantage in narrow lanes and bye-lanes, is the weak point on the highway, the narrow track coupled with the high centre of gravity makes the car slightly unsteady at any high speed turn.

A turning radius of 4.7 meters is really good for a car thats just as long as the ecosport. Braking is ok under normal situations but i havn’t tried hard braking at higher speeds yet. Fuel efficiency is something i haven’t really tested but is around 14- 15 in mixed city and highway driving.

Boot space is about 450 litres (without folding the seats) and the boot door opens really wide and there is no problems in loading and unloading. Another useful feature is a tray type of thing in the boot, it has several compartments and lot of stuff like toolset, footpump , etc can be store there without the dickey rattling. The rear seats complete fold over and the boot becomes 1000l plus and can then accommodate probably a washing machine too.

The biggest issue with the car is actually not the car. It’s the company. People don’t trust premier any more. Well, if they set up decent showrooms and service centres then maybe the perceptions will change. But if their showrooms and service stations look like your average neighbourhood garages then it just isn’t going to work. I have been assured of continued support but spare parts availability will have to be seen as time goes by. I am now the guinea pig and will see how premier performs on the after sales part.

In a nutshell-

Likes-
. Looks
. compact dimentions
. ground clearance
. mileage
. bootspace

Dislikes-
. Interiors/ fit and finish
. Narrow width
. Average engine power.
. Doubtful company support.

Here are the pictures..
Attached Thumbnails
The Tall Kid - My Premier RiO 1.5L Diesel-dscn1071.jpg  

The Tall Kid - My Premier RiO 1.5L Diesel-20140310_111056-copy.jpg  

The Tall Kid - My Premier RiO 1.5L Diesel-20140310_111118-copy.jpg  

Attached Images
   

Last edited by GTO : 19th March 2014 at 11:47. Reason: Adding paragraph spacing :). Thanks for sharing
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Old 18th March 2014, 01:00   #2
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Default re: The Tall Kid - My Premier RiO 1.5L Diesel

Some details
interiors
The Tall Kid - My Premier RiO 1.5L Diesel-dscn1033.jpg
dashboard is quite basic
Nippon music system supports USB and AUX
The Tall Kid - My Premier RiO 1.5L Diesel-dscn1037.jpg

steering wheel is nice to hold
The Tall Kid - My Premier RiO 1.5L Diesel-dscn1036.jpg

Instrument cluster is decent
The Tall Kid - My Premier RiO 1.5L Diesel-dscn1059.jpg
Driver's footwell. Not a lot of space and no dead pedal
The Tall Kid - My Premier RiO 1.5L Diesel-dscn1038.jpg
Handbrake and small storage space behind it
The Tall Kid - My Premier RiO 1.5L Diesel-dscn1040.jpg
LED lights look cool
The Tall Kid - My Premier RiO 1.5L Diesel-dscn1044.jpg
Vanity mirror
The Tall Kid - My Premier RiO 1.5L Diesel-dscn1046.jpg

awkwardly placed switches

The Tall Kid - My Premier RiO 1.5L Diesel-dscn1034.jpg
The Tall Kid - My Premier RiO 1.5L Diesel-dscn1035.jpg
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Old 18th March 2014, 01:20   #3
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Default re: The Tall Kid - My Premier RiO 1.5L Diesel

The backseats and boot space
The Tall Kid - My Premier RiO 1.5L Diesel-dscn1049.jpg

seats recline to a comfortable angle

The Tall Kid - My Premier RiO 1.5L Diesel-dscn1050.jpg

The leg space with the front seats pushed midway back. note the manual windows
The Tall Kid - My Premier RiO 1.5L Diesel-dscn1058.jpg

Both seats fold up double
The Tall Kid - My Premier RiO 1.5L Diesel-dscn1053.jpg

Boot
The bottle is a 2 liter bottle
Name:  DSCN1023.JPG
Views: 19600
Size:  174.1 KB

Light is helpful
The Tall Kid - My Premier RiO 1.5L Diesel-dscn1024.jpg

Useful addition. Can store a lot of stuff neatly packed into the compartments
The Tall Kid - My Premier RiO 1.5L Diesel-dscn1026.jpg

With seats fully folded up, it can swallow up any luggage
The Tall Kid - My Premier RiO 1.5L Diesel-dscn1056.jpg
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Old 18th March 2014, 16:31   #4
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Default re: The Tall Kid - My Premier RiO 1.5L Diesel

The wheels and ground clearance..
Simple and robust alloy design.

The Tall Kid - My Premier RiO 1.5L Diesel-dscn1030.jpg
The Tall Kid - My Premier RiO 1.5L Diesel-dscn1064.jpg
The Tall Kid - My Premier RiO 1.5L Diesel-dscn1063.jpg

Engine bay.
The Tall Kid - My Premier RiO 1.5L Diesel-20140317_124644.jpg

The underbody. Ample ground clearance.
The Tall Kid - My Premier RiO 1.5L Diesel-dscn1065.jpg

That is the 2 liter bottle again..

The Tall Kid - My Premier RiO 1.5L Diesel-dscn1066n.jpg

A few parting shots..

size comparision with the 3rd gen honda city

The Tall Kid - My Premier RiO 1.5L Diesel-dscn1069.jpg
The Tall Kid - My Premier RiO 1.5L Diesel-dscn1075.jpg

A final shot ( with my cousin's older RiO) in the backdrop of the himalays, somewhere near darjeeling.( Thats yours truely with the hat )

The Tall Kid - My Premier RiO 1.5L Diesel-dsc06432.jpg

Thanks for reading.
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Old 19th March 2014, 11:48   #5
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Default Re: The Tall Kid - My Premier RiO 1.5L Diesel

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Initial Ownership Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 19th March 2014, 12:10   #6
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Default Re: The Tall Kid - My Premier RiO 1.5L Diesel

Congratulations on your purchase!

At 3.5L it seems like a good bargain. I certainly would have considered it too at that price.

I always wondered about this car and ownership experience. Looks like it will serve you well. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 19th March 2014, 12:39   #7
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Default Re: The Tall Kid - My Premier RiO 1.5L Diesel

Cute little car!! That's the first impression that i get on looking at the pics..
Nice review.
Getting to know about this car first time - have never come across this on roads.
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Old 19th March 2014, 12:41   #8
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Congratulations!

longitudinal mount - RWD - Nice write-up.

All the best! Drive safe!
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Old 19th March 2014, 13:07   #9
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Default Re: The Tall Kid - My Premier RiO 1.5L Diesel

I have seen only one Rio in Chennai - was a black / dark-blue one and I liked the looks. I have posted its snap on some thread on this forum too.

Nice buy at 3.5 lakhs.
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Old 19th March 2014, 14:07   #10
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Default Re: The Tall Kid - My Premier RiO 1.5L Diesel

Congrats pyrodrive, that's a super deal at 3.5 lakhs. It's not a car many would consider, so you are a trailblazer in some ways!

The Rio comes across as a robust urban warrior and given how hardy the ubiquitous Padmini is, I'd expect the Rio to be no less. Congrats once again, drive safe and keep the thread alive with your experiences as it could serve as a critical point of reference for potential Rio owners.
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Old 19th March 2014, 14:14   #11
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Default Re: The Tall Kid - My Premier RiO 1.5L Diesel

Saw this for the first time on Mumbai-Pune expressway(on the stretch between Khandala-Khopoli where bikes are allowed) few years back and remember circling around it to have a proper look. And then recently in Bangalore. Looks puny no doubt but cute. And if it serves your purpose , its a steal at that price.

I agree its the brand Premier that's the problem rather than the car in itself. Had this been from a Maruti stable would surely have some takers.

Do keep the thread updated with your ownership and service experience.
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Old 19th March 2014, 14:26   #12
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Default Re: The Tall Kid - My Premier RiO 1.5L Diesel

The car looks clean and trim and is a great buy at that price.Like it is mentioned elsewhere in this forum, the RIO would have been a best seller if brought in by maruti or Hyundai. How is the Rio sales now as there was a news that it will soon be launched with a Fiat 1.3 Multijet engine.
It will be better if you maintain an inventory of some critical spares handy.
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Old 19th March 2014, 14:28   #13
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Default Re: The Tall Kid - My Premier RiO 1.5L Diesel

Many congratulations Pyrodrive for the Rio. Have never seen this car on road but it looks like a cute little SUV. The Rio was initially built as a CKD from some Chinese company, is it being built in India now. The 1.5L engine is the Peugeot (as you mentioned) and it is also available with the Fiat 1.3MJD engine.

Hope the car gives a niggle free performance and drive safe.
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Old 19th March 2014, 15:04   #14
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Default Re: The Tall Kid - My Premier RiO 1.5L Diesel

Congratulations on what is a 'brain over heart' purchase! For the price you bought for, it is definitely a great buy! Premier may not live up to the marketing and brand recall of other makers; but guess Rio retains the technology basics of their Padmini cars, which were very reliable. Hope Rio serves you well and adds more color to your travels!
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Old 19th March 2014, 15:14   #15
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Default Re: The Tall Kid - My Premier RiO 1.5L Diesel

Nice review. I have had the opportunity to drive this car and concur with your thoughts. It deserves a lot more praise than it gets. The car is decently build and drives well. I guess the biggest letdown with this car is the brand itself - same car from Maruti would have sold in millions. I know, that's not a very good argument...
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