I alongwith my parents was out the last weekend for a well-deserved holiday. One thing that both of them love is to come along with me for test-drives...literally savouring the moment as I high-revv the latest products on offer from Indian car manufacturers.
So on saturday morning, when we entered Nasik city...we saw a gleaming white Fiat Petra waiting outside the authorised Fiat dealership in this city. Well, dont need an invitation to drive a 100 horses.
A word of mention is due on the Fiat Petra. The companys Indian subsidiary is putting in some really strong efforts to revive its brand image, pull up its dealerships to high customer-oriented standards and offer a reliable and value-packed product ownership experience. I think its only fair to view the Fiat Petra with a fresh perspective, and dispell any Fiat Siena experiences.
The revised pricing also demands a second look from any prospective C segment buyers. At 4.79 lacs you get a proper sedan with a 1.6L DOHC 100 bhp engine which churns out 14 kgm of torque at 4250 rpm.Its fully loaded with power steering/windows/central locking. 175/65/R14 Bridgestone rubber is standard. Currently this is the only one variant that is offered - A very smart move IMHO. *
It was pleasantly surprising to be greeted by a well-informed and charming salesperson - Mr. Vinod Yadav at Kamal Carlines. This chap cleared my preliminary qualifying round with ease (Some Q's that I throw about DOHC's and MPFi engines) and the impression one gets is that the company has spent some time training its staff. One irritating factor was his persistent reassurance that the Petra will deliver 12 kpl in the city - Well, I didnt ask about the fuel efficiency and dont expect me to believe the 12 kpl either!!
We moved around the car, and the Petra really stands apart from the regular fare on offer in this segment. Its looks decidedly European and has a very "heavy" stance to it. The build quality is typically European and the sheet metal used is surely far superior to that of its Japanese competitors. The front end looks amazing with the chrome grille and neat looking headlamps. The doors shut with a distinct "thud", panel gaps and paint finish are top-grade, you can also tell that this body will not ding that easily. The Petra 4 colour range is not as vibrant as that of the Palio (Orange, green, red, yellow etc.) but I think this car looks best in black, with white coming a close second.
The car stands high and my parents found it darned easy to jump into the front and back seats - compared to the Esteem and Accent. the Interiors are airy and pleasant, and there is just so much room for 4 adults to travel in comfort. You sit in a very comfortable stance with the seats offering your backside great support. The steering is one size bigger than what I would prefer and the rpm gauge is placed to the right of the speedometer!! I cant understand why, as most of the world follows the pattern of placing the rpm to the left of the speedo! A nice touch is that the seatbelts are height-adjustable. The interiors are also pre-wired for six speakers. Except for a height-adjustable seat, stereo and power-mirrors (current are manually adjustable from the inside), this car has everything that higher-priced cars offer. Interior plastics are just about average in quality, but the air-con louvres really suck.
The boot is H-U-G-E with 500 liters of baggage carrying capacity. Whats good about the design is that two king-size bags can fit in on top of each other leaving a load of room on the side for handbags and oddities.
Start the engine and you are reminded of the 100 horses. Whenever most car-heads think of a 100 horses, the previous gen City 1.5 immediately springs to mind. But mind you, a 100 horses is the only thing they have in common. This engine is nowhere as free-revving and refined as the Hondas.
All that build quality and incorporated safety takes it toll on the weight gauge. Despite a superb 100 bhp figure, the power to weight ratio of this car stands at a not to superb 89 bhp/ton. The drive does feel very spirited though, and you dont need to shift gears as often as in the high-geared Esteem. The ratios are spot-on. Steering feedback is better than average while the gearbox is smooth but typically European notchy. Yes I know you are dying for the Gtech figures - It pulled in a 0 - 60 mph timing of 11.69 seconds!
In straight line stability, the Petra cant be beaten. Around the corners, it can. There is an good amount of body roll and you can really feel that big rear-end upsetting the composure. I would rate the braking for feel and stopping power at a 7.5/10.
The ride quality and comfort levels are what the Petra is all about. From the comfortable seats to the extremely effective suspension, this Fiat does not get fazed by the worst roads that rural India has to offer!! Ride quality is the best from any in the C segment, the Esteem/Accent/Ikon/ are not even close. Speed breakers are dismissed with an arrogant attitude of superiority..."kaccha" rural roads arent even felt. On the higyway, the teutonic build gives you a very secure feeling, even at a 100+ km/h. This is one machine that the Asian band of manufacturers ought to take lessons from in the ride department. Its a never ending debate on who is superior - The Opel Astra or the Petra. My vote is with the Petra.
An important factor that contributes to increased practicality is the higher ground clearance of this car. The Siena used to scrape speedbreakers et all with its 140 mm of ground clearance. The Petra has no such issues with 170 mm of clearance.
Even with a 100bhp, I still wont term the Petra as a drivers car. But its a great all-rounder. Its got a 100bhp, the best levels of ride quality, classy looks, teutonic build quality and comfortable interiors.
In addition, this car scores huge on safety and would hold up much better in crashes than most of the competiton. Its also got a Fire Protection system (FPS).
But what gets my mouth watering is this package for 4.79 lacs!! And thats before dealer discounts that the salesman was willing to discuss with me. This is not a good deal...its not a steal...its not highway robbery...ITS CORPORATE CHARITY!!!
Dont worry about the service and commitment, just shut your eyes and pick up a Petra if you are contemplating a C-segmenter. Diesel lovers should also keep in mind that the Petra with a 1.9 liter Diesel is due very soon.
P.S. Does anyone want to buy a nicely maintained '96 Esteem VX?
P.S. Does anyone want to buy a nicely maintained '96 Esteem VX? *
Hey, hey so when are we going to see a Petra parked next to VTEC? *Thinking for your parents?
Great review pal. I'm going for a test drive also for one of my friend.
Great review, hey i think i've seen this Fiat showroom in Nasik. Don't they have almost all the showrooms on the highway itself?
100kmph in 11.69 secs eh?? Good , very good.......but not good enough to excite you, me or Ajmat!!
What was that 0-100 figure your Vtec managed the last time you tested it with the g-tech pro?? Was it a 10, was it a 9 or was it quicker??? i'll go with option 3.......
I agree, build wise the Petra really stands out, it's very sturdy and stable at high speeds. Asuming that it isn't very different from the Siena on this front.
At less than 5 lakhs it's a real steal. Now who would want to buy an Accent?
Fiat seems to be getting everthing right, wish these cars had better performance to match.
Great Review ! Most of your observations are spot on.
I am into the 3 rd week of owning and driving my Petra *and nothing to complain about as of now.
The fuel efficiency I am getting hovers around 8 when driven on badly clogged city roads.
I also did a stint on the highway ( East coast road) *on one of the weekends. while I never pushed it hard on the winding turns, On straighter / emptier stretches 120 kmph cruising is done easily in this car ,feels rock stable inside the car at those speeds.
Since we are talking about this, I would like to say that Kamal Carlines is really a car dealership with a difference. When the Nashik rally ran last month (1st round of the INRC), Kamal Carlines provided full support to the event.
They provided support cars from their dealership, and not any old cars, but Brand new ones!! There was a 1.6 Optra, a Petra and a Palio doing duty as the advance cars along with a host of Scorpio's as backup vehicles! Again, I can't emphasise enough about these being cars straight out of the showroom with not even 10Km on the odo!
All this from a dealer. Even manufacturer's don't come forward with the least bit of support which, to them, would cost nothing. But here we have an enthusiastic dealer who sacrifices his margins on the new cars in order to support an event.
Hats off to them! I'm sure the service they provide is of the same high standard, afterall, its a "car guy" running the dealership!
double zero car- 1.6 Optra
Zero car - Fiat Petra 1.6
Good write up GTO....so how much are you qouting for your VX?
THIS is the very Petra I drove. It was like almost new but had 700 km on it. I asked him how come it has run so much, and he said it was taken around on the recent rally.
Also showed me some pictures with the Petra "yumping"!
Small world...I tell ya
SO go for it man.. life is really short
Spot on review GTO. i had driven the Siena 1.6 long back, but not different from the Petra, so things still stay the same. I remember doing a small stint on gravel too and the car was very tail-happy, given it's hatchback origins, thats understandable. And this is what i would call value for money.
Btw, that Optra doesn't look too happy being mucked around.
You're right though however
Rudra i'll tell you what that Optra reminded me of. You know these Virar fast trains during peak hour always have these huge fisherwomen with their tokri of smelly fish and their nine-yard sarees and they are constantly grumbling and moaning and going "pchh pchh" more than anybody else. now imagine one of them being dressed in a spotless white saree, and their frowns increase two fold and their grumbling relatively too.
The Optra looks it's best cruising without being hassled on 'ice skating rink' type surface.
sorry boss aaj dimag zyaada chal raha hain.
the petra seems real happy.
hey any idea abt how much the petra has sold.
are they launching the new petra next year.
imagine a fully loaded petra with skirts , freeflow , alloys , new tyres and the works for the price of a ikon 1.6 zxi or accent gvs..
On road individual price ex-mumbai (cheaper than ex-thane) is 5.24L for the petra petrol.
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