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Old 22nd June 2008, 22:17   #1
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Default Palio 1.6 GTX – Initial review of a used 2002 model

Palio 1.6 GTX – Initial review of a used 2002 model


Hi fellow BHPians,

Driving an MM550 with oversize tires can be a bit of a task every day, so I was thinking for some time about a 2nd car that would be cheap (2 to 3 lacs), small, easy to drive, and have good air conditioning. My preference was for a sedan with a large trunk for storage, as I did not really like hatchbacks for rear passenger crash safety. I had ruled out most small cars like the 800, Alto, Zen, Santro on the basis of them just not safe in a major collision. Tata Indica and Indigo, in my opinion, are just not up to international standards in terms of reliability and quality. Honda VTEC cars are great performers, but cost 3L plus for decent condition cars.

After spending way too much time on the Team-BHP website and reading a great deal of posts, it looked like the Baleno was a preferred car by enthusiasts, with a great deal of aftermarket potential to improve performance, and could even be turned into a rally car at a later date. Also the air conditioning was ranked very highly. I drove a couple of Balenos and it seemed like a decent car, but did have a very low seat position that I was not very impressed with. But the main problem, was the very high price of a used unit. A complete junk condition accident Baleno goes for about 2L, and a halfway decent condition is 3L with good condition at 4L. Maruti just has very high resale value. Which is great if you own one, but not so good if you are looking for a 2nd hand unit. I really searched far and wide for a good Baleno, and met many an unscrupulous used car dealer. The dealers in Delhi are complete imbeciles that can make you never want to buy a 2nd hand car ever. These dealers/agents are like compulsive liars that just can’t tell the truth no matter how hard they may try.

Then, just by pure chance, I test drove a Siena 1.6 as a potentially lower cost alternative to the Baleno, and was very impressed with the build quality and solidity. The 1.6 engine was smooth and powerful and felt much better than the Baleno motor. The suspension also felt firmer and better planted with little body roll. The owner wanted 1.5L and was not willing to come down on the price, and had a bad attitude, so no deal was made. I had no earlier experience with Fiat, and had never considered this brand. But this test drive really made a positive impression on me. Not only were the fiat cars better built and safer than Marutis, they were also a great deal cheaper in the 2nd hand market. This was a combination that warranted further investigation.

Then I spotted an online ad for a 2002 GTX for 1.35L with 60k on the odometer, Bangalore plates, and reluctantly set up an appointment to see the car. I really was not interested in a hatchback, and even less a Karnataka plated car in Delhi, but there were so many praises of the GTX on Team BHP, I thought that I may as well take a look. It was in relatively bad shape with the interior and exterior dirty, leaking oil, rattles from the muffler, muffler rusted, 2 tires totally worn, clutch making noises. But the engine was in good shape and seemed to have full compression. And the seller seemed like a nice honest guy who was an I.T. professional working for IBM. I was ready to walk away from the vehicle due to its poor condition, but since the owner was serious of selling, we negotiated a price of 85K and made the deal. I figured that with this type of low initial cost, I could budget more for repairs.


Called Fiat headquarters and spoke with Mr. Kodalkar, and told him that I wanted the best service center in the NCR and that I was very particular about the quality of repair and servicing. He referred me to Elegant Cars/Samyak in Noida, and reassured me that this shop would take care of my needs.

Work Done by Dealer
Drove about 2 hours to Noida from my house, and told the mechanic that I wanted the car to be repaired to the point that it should be as good as a new vehicle. The mechanic was a bit unused to this level of maintenance level, but gradually understood that my standards of repair and quality were the vehicle should be “as new” condition. If a part had the slightest issue, my instruction was replace it! It actually took me 3 separate trips to get all this work done. Here is the list of parts changed:

2 new front suspension arms
2 new front shocks, bump stops, upper mountings
New rear dead axle
2 new rear shocks
New pair of rear bearings
new spark plugs
New air intake hose
new clutch kit
oil & filter change
Drain and fill gearbox
new timing belt
new a/c belt
new alt. belt
new idler pulley
New belt tensioner pulley
fuel filter
new timing belt cover plate
flush power steering
flush brake oil
new fog lamps
lube self starter
New engine mount
Replace fuel tank gasket
Fuel injector cleaner with Liqui Moly (made in Germany) Pro-Line Jet Clean, Fuel system-cleaner.
Clean throttle body

The parts and labor was reasonable and this dealer had a very good inventory of spare parts. They even had a clip for the sun visor that was broken! I gave the mechanic a Rs. 500 tip on each visit, and he went out of his way to make sure all work was done well.

Other items outside of the dealer workshop
Drain radiator and refilled with fresh coolant.
New Bosch wiper blades Rs. 450
195/60R14 Michelin Pilot Preceda tires for Rs. 16.5K
After a 500 km, did another oil change using Mobile 1 full synthetic 0-40 oil and a new Fiat Uno style oil filter (about twice the size of the standard filter)
Mobile 1 85W-90 full synthetic gear oil for gearbox.
Sony Xplode head unit
JBL 5 Ό “ GT5-502 speakers ( 4 nos.)
Wide angle rear view mirror

Total repair/upgrade spent : Rs. 80,000

Pending upgrades (short term):
A complete Automech exhaust system (header to tailpipe) is on order, price Rs.14,000.
Not sure whether to use a K&N universal or K&N replacement filter to fit in stock air box.
Window Tint.
Horn upgrade
New front headlight units
Front fender, bonnet, denting & painting.

Pending upgrades (longer term):

-Complete suspension from Pedders. I spoke with Krupesh Patel and he says that a complete Pedders system should be available in 6 months, price to be about Rs. 50,000.
-HID lights
-Hotter camshafts
-High compression pistons
-Revised engine tune


Summary

So for a repair budget of about 1L, the Palio is running like a new vehicle, and is just a blast to drive. At a total budget of <2L, you just can’t get more VFM. The air conditioning works great with a nice chilled interior. Vehicle build quality is great and feels very solid and safe. Great vehicle for around town driving, very comfortable. The really nice thing about the Palio 1.6 GTX is that it has a sort of split personality; you can drive it nice and slow for fuel economy or you can put the pedal to the floor and drive it like a rally car. The GTX has a real jewel of an engine that is free revving and has a large usable range of engine rpm. The exhaust is very restrictive, and I plan to throw it out completely, including the cat. This should really bring out the power nicely and let you listen to the engine sing at high rpm. Obviously by international standards, the Palio GTX is no sports car, but here in India it is a relatively fast car.

The Michelin Pilot Preceda tires are excellent. Rated at Traction AA, Temp A, Tread wear 240, they have really good handling and grip since it is a relatively soft compound. They work really well on the expressway on/off ramps that curve 270 degrees. No tire squeal, just good solid grip. Unfortunately, the 195/60 R14 size did rub on the rear fender wells, so I had to roll the fender lip with a hammer and use a grinder to remove some material. A bit ugly if you look closely, but at least my tires aren’t getting chewed up. I will eventually get a proper denter to finish it off and get some touch up painting done.

The suspension is decent and sprung firmly. Front and rear anti sway bars minimize body roll. I have scraped on a couple of large speed breakers and giant potholes. Still I think that the ground clearance is adequate. The 195/60 R14 tires increase the road noise and amplify road irregularities, but provide excellent traction. Also having an additional 20mm of track in the front and back helps high speed stability. Having high performance tires greatly improves the overall braking performance of any vehicle.

Did my first long distance trip from Delhi to Jammu and back this past weekend (about 1300 km round trip). This Palio is definitely a fuel guzzler, but the performance is great. It is really strong on the highways, and passing is no problem. In fact having terrific acceleration is an important safety aspect on Indian roads. Overtaking while having oncoming traffic heading directly towards you is part of the Indian driving situation, so being able to do this quickly helps with preserving a larger safety margin. Granted that this will not help your average, but there is a time to drive for fuel economy, and overtaking while having a bus or truck heading toward you from the opposite direction is not one of them. The way I look at it, is if one wants to drive for maximum fuel efficiency, minimize overtaking. Just drive in a relaxed manner and wait till there is more than adequate room to pass slow moving vehicle. My standard technique for passing on the highway was to down shift 2 gears, get the rpm over 3k and floor the throttle. Passing quickly and decisively is safer than slow overtaking.

And then there is the case for of numerous obnoxious drivers on the road in a big hurry for no apparent reason. It was really a great deal of fun meeting the challenge from these guys. Sumos, Taveras, Scorpios, could be passed with ease. There were a couple of Ford Endeavors that could not keep up with me. I totally spanked a couple of Suzuki swifts, and a Mitsubishi Montero. The guy in the Montero really tried hard and probably thought that his 30L SUV should be faster, but just could not keep up with my low cost pocket rocket! There were also a couple of big Skoda sedans that were really miffed at the fact that they could not pass me!

Of course there were some cars that were quicker. There was a crazy guy in Punjab in an Accent CRD that I could not keep up with, and a Scorpio in Jammu that was flying on a rutted road, where I had to slow down.

I got it up to 140 kph on some straight sections, when the road was clear, and kept all driving very safe. But did have fun when the chance presented itself.

I have run the car on regular petrol, super, and 97 octane and found absolutely no difference in performance. Have not been able to check the “average” as of yet since the odometer is not working.

Good areas:
The gear box is great as is the engine. It revs to 6.5K rpm without any hesitation and is really strong between 4k and 6K rpm.
A/C is excellent. I had it on 100% of the trip and it did not feel like there was any drag on the engine whatsoever.
Child locks on the rear doors keeps kids from inadvertently opening the doors.

Problems
Brakes are inadequate at high speeds (over 100 kph). Anyone with suggestions on how to improve brakes? Did a thorough flush with DOT 4 fluid, and it helped a little.
Seats are o.k., but it did get some fatigue due to the lack of arm rests and strange accelerator position.
No rear seat belts!
I could swear at times I thought that there was a leak in the fuel tank, since the level dropped so quickly.
Rear view door mirrors do not fold flat and tend to get damaged very easily.
Very limited aftermarket performance parts


Pics of the Palio are attached.



Best regards,

Gaurav
Attached Thumbnails
Palio 1.6 GTX – Initial review of a used 2002 model-downloaded-03-june-2008-036-large.jpg  

Palio 1.6 GTX – Initial review of a used 2002 model-downloaded-03-june-2008-037-large.jpg  

Palio 1.6 GTX – Initial review of a used 2002 model-downloaded-03-june-2008-038-large.jpg  

Palio 1.6 GTX – Initial review of a used 2002 model-downloaded-03-june-2008-039-large.jpg  

Palio 1.6 GTX – Initial review of a used 2002 model-downloaded-03-june-2008-041-large.jpg  

Palio 1.6 GTX – Initial review of a used 2002 model-downloaded-03-june-2008-043-large.jpg  

Palio 1.6 GTX – Initial review of a used 2002 model-downloaded-03-june-2008-046-large.jpg  

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Old 22nd June 2008, 22:48   #2
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Default Great to see the car

Hello
I saw your car.Its great.You have spent good money on maintanence.But i would suggest you to get new FIAT logo for the grill and new headlamps.Get the fog lamp scoops and mirrors body coloured as in the GTX.


Vignesh
1.2Siena ELX
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Old 23rd June 2008, 01:12   #3
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Nice car and a good review! With all upgrades / replacements done, the total cost would come to around 2.5L? Bet all that money is well spent!

Congratulations!
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Old 23rd June 2008, 07:10   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RedMM340 View Post
In fact having terrific acceleration is an important safety aspect on Indian roads. Overtaking while having oncoming traffic heading directly towards you is part of the Indian driving situation, so being able to do this quickly helps with preserving a larger safety margin.
I'm glad some one understands. most people say, the more powerful a car, the more dangerous it is. I just bang my head with frustration when I hear that.

at 2 lacs odd, the GTX is a steal. the 1.6 has to be the best bargain for enthusiasts at the moment.
but FE can be a problem like you said. win some, lose some.
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Old 23rd June 2008, 08:35   #5
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That's a very clean looking car, enjoy the ride, I was getting a Palio GTX 1.6 2002 with 42k on the odo for 1.3, but just din't have the guts to pick it up, sometimes I wonder, how life would have been with a GTX, if I would have bought the same.
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Old 23rd June 2008, 10:03   #6
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Great car!! I admire your guts to buy that car and getting it to the current state.

What is your feedback about Liqui Moly (made in Germany) Pro-Line Jet Clean, Fuel system-cleaner?
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Old 23rd June 2008, 10:27   #7
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Good luck with your pet project Gaurav , looks like its going great already.

About 195/60 R14 scraping the wheel wells could you point out where exactly there is contact ? because there is a fellow bhpian with a palio stile 1.6 and 195 tyres but he hasnt complained about this
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Old 23rd June 2008, 10:27   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PatienceWins View Post
Great car!! I admire your guts to buy that car and getting it to the current state.

What is your feedback about Liqui Moly (made in Germany) Pro-Line Jet Clean, Fuel system-cleaner?

This stuff really works, there was a noticeable difference immediately after using the Liqui Moly. It cost me about Rs. 800 to have it done, and I feel that it was money well spent. Attached is a couple of pics of this stuff. I was sure to have the tech open the sealed bottle in front of me and pour it into a small pressure vessel, which he then charged with compressed air. He then unplugged the fuel pump, disconnected the fuel delivery line in the engine compartment and directly hooked up the injector clean + air to the fuel input. Then he started the motor and it ran for about 15 minutes on the Liqui Moly + air. When the liquid ran out the engine stalled, and the fuel line was reconnected and fuel pump plugged in.



I had earlier spent 600 on a couple of bottles of injector cleaners bought from the marketplace, but these just did not do much by comparison. In fact after having the Liqui Moly done, I believe that the earlier injector cleaners did nothing and were a waste of money.
Attached Thumbnails
Palio 1.6 GTX – Initial review of a used 2002 model-p6220623-large.jpg  

Palio 1.6 GTX – Initial review of a used 2002 model-p6220622-large.jpg  

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Old 23rd June 2008, 10:53   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RedMM340 View Post
This stuff really works, there was a noticeable difference immediately after using the Liqui Moly...
OT: Gaurav, Your post about Liqui-Moly brings nostalgic memories back. Don't know how many people here would remember that Liqui-Moly lubricants & additives were available in India in the early/mid 90's. SunStar Lubricants (Makers of Golden Cruiser Coolant) were manufacturing the lubricants here and importing the additives.

I was working with them then and can safely say that people had great things to say about Liqui-Moly lubricants & additives back then also. They are just brilliant. I used to use them in my motorcycle and they made a hell lot of difference to the engine.

If you can get a hold of Liqui-Moly additives -- nothing like it.
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Old 23rd June 2008, 10:54   #10
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Really thorough job you have done there. Great!

Cosmetically, there are a few more things to be done (apart from what has been said already):

1. FIAT badge in the front.
2. "1.6" badge at the rear
3. 100 16V badge on the left fender. Samyak should have all the badges in stock, from my experience.
3. Get rid of the mudflaps. They look OK on the 1.2s, but the GTX looks better without them. If you want, I can share my GTX's picture for reference.
4. The cover for the tow-away tether is missing from the rear bumper. Ask the Samyak body shop people to get on for you from a damaged bumper, so that you do not have to buy a new one just for that.

Rear seat belts are hard to get. I have been pushing Vivek and Samyak for the past 2 months. Do post pics of the interior.
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Old 23rd June 2008, 10:59   #11
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Congrats RedMM540, the car looks fantastic. wish you many miles with this car.

can you give the cost for each of the work done.

Quote:
Originally Posted by musicmanaman View Post
That's a very clean looking car, enjoy the ride, I was getting a Palio GTX 1.6 2002 with 42k on the odo for 1.3, but just din't have the guts to pick it up, sometimes I wonder, how life would have been with a GTX, if I would have bought the same.
you made the right choice by not buying the car from Sharaf (brown GTX) - i spoke to the same guy and found that owner never took much care of the car. instead i picked up the one in my gallery. it had 443**kms on the odo and she is from June 2003 batch.

@ Vipul - you have 50+ posts - you have access to you own garage/gallery - please upload the pics there (another smiley)

Last edited by planet_rocker : 23rd June 2008 at 11:04.
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Old 23rd June 2008, 14:02   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by planet_rocker View Post
Congrats RedMM540, the car looks fantastic. wish you many miles with this car.

can you give the cost for each of the work done.



you made the right choice by not buying the car from Sharaf (brown GTX) - i spoke to the same guy and found that owner never took much care of the car. instead i picked up the one in my gallery. it had 443**kms on the odo and she is from June 2003 batch.

@ Vipul - you have 50+ posts - you have access to you own garage/gallery - please upload the pics there (another smiley)
How did you know it was the Brown GTX, with Shafaf, glad to know after reading your comments, I din't pick the same up, are you the one who's got the 6606 Q series GTX?, seen it a couple of time's near Dangar Bazar.
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Old 23rd June 2008, 14:05   #13
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Great Car. Congrats.

Welcome to Fiat Club.
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Old 23rd June 2008, 15:08   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by musicmanaman View Post
How did you know it was the Brown GTX, with Shafaf, glad to know after reading your comments, I din't pick the same up, are you the one who's got the 6606 Q series GTX?, seen it a couple of time's near Dangar Bazar.
when i picked up my GTX (6606 ) there were two gtxs for sale - the one i bought and the other belonged to Sharaf. i checked / spoke to both of the owners - found 6606 was very well kept compared to Sharaf's. picked up the 6606 within 10 days from seeing the advertisement.

dangar bazaar? where is that? i stay at Beck Bagan. where do you stay?

Last edited by planet_rocker : 23rd June 2008 at 15:09.
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Old 23rd June 2008, 15:18   #15
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Thanks Gaurav. That was indeed a detailed feedback.
I will see if I can get hold of them in Bangalore.
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