Fiat Palio Multijet 1.3 Diesel (MJD) - 3200 KM report
I would like to open this review by mentioning that I am very new to the driving populace and the MJD is my first car. We have an old Premier Padmini as well by I've hardly ever driven it. The only other car that I have driven is the Maruti Suzuki Wagon-R and a Chevy Aveo. My review is based on what I found good and bad in the car. My comparisons will be
limited to what I have observed while driving the other two cars that I mentioned and riding as a front seat passenger in a large number of cars in India and in Europe.
1> Engine - After all the reports of the engine being super-silent, I was slightly disappointed when I bought the car. The engine was audible from inside the cabin even when idling. I expected it to calm down to some extent after the first servicing and that is exactly what happened. After around 2000KM, the engine noise has reduced extensively. I can still hear it in the cabin while idling or driving in the lower gears but I find that non-inrusive and bearable.
2> Interiors - I've seen so much flak on interiors on this forum that I am dumbfounded. I have the SDX model which has beige/black interiors and I find them very practical and simple. I would, in fact, rate the interiors amongst the best in the B+ hatch category. The finish could be better, I agree but the idea is spot on. The central console is tilted towards the driver, the Music system HU is higher up in the central console allowing easier access, the clock brilliantly dims when the headlights are turned on (which is opposite to what happens with the backlight on my Blaupunkt HU). This reduces distraction. The rear-view which has a day/night switch and side-view mirrors are top-notch quality.
A digital odometer/tripmeter would be useful but is only a minor quirk in my opinion - the analog one is perfectly functional, simply designed and perfectly fine for my use. I have fitted beige artifical leather seat covers and it improves the look of the interiors from the stock seats. The dashboard is a nice assymmetrical design and looks essentially free-flowing and one-piece - the instrument cluster is integrated in a free flowing curve and doesn't jut out like the odd-man-out.
3> Ergonomics - An extension to the preceeding point, I am similarly amazed at the flak here. The pedals being close to each other is a major FEATURE. Isn't that obvious? As a lot of people on another thread pointed out, people are confortable driving their own cars/bikes/computers etc. and when they TD a different car, the ergonomics seem to be flawed. So people driving cars where the pedals are far apart find the closer pedals in a Palio fidgety and difficult and vice versa. My friend did the accelerator-instead-of-brake mistake when he first drove my Palio and I found myself hunting for his accelerator in his Wagon-R.
Therefore, we have to define ergonomics as design which has been created with a certain purpose. Placing the accelerator pedal close to the brake has a clear purpose behind it. It allows you to get your foot off the brake, rotate the heel and hit the accelerator in a fast touch-and-go situation. When you are used to it, I feel it could potentially shave off a few milliseconds off your response time which are often the difference between life and death in accidents. I need to clarify that it might not be comfortable to drive with the toe on the accelerator all the time but it is clearly a very good crisis avoidance mechanism to me. People with big feet - sorry but it was between 80% size 7s/8s in a shoe store vs. 20%
9s and 10s.
Besides these, ergonomic touches like the higher ground clearance, backlit power window switches, ultra clear mirrors, indicator sticks than can be held without locking-in for lane changes, effective rear defoggers, stock location for tweeters, stock location for rear speakers, different lengths of fuel and boot open levers, double-barrel headlamps against double-filament single barrel headlamps etc. never seem to be mentioned by Fiat-bashers.
There was also a criticism of the 'long handed Italian driving position'. Wonder where that comes from - I drive with my seat one step reclined from most vertical position and my elbows touch the seat. I of course have my hands at the 9-3 position instead of the 10-2 position so that might be a reason. Nevertheless, I do not find this an issue and my hands are well rested because my upper arm is almost fully rested on the seat back.
4) Ride quality - Definitely better than the cars I've driven. I cannot compare to the Swift or the Fabia or Getz but I have no complaints on drive quality. Probably as good as a friend's Opel Corsa which was known for the ride quality. I am a safe driver and avoid fast corners and flying over bumpy roads so I am hardly the benchmark for rough ride quality. The
fastest I've driven on this is 110KM/H and it did not feel like the scary movie at all. I did have jitters while driving my friend's Wagon-R at 80Km/H but that was probably due to the lack of power steering and my lack of experience with his car. The braking on the Palio has been very good - beyond my expectations but I cannot compare with other cars.
5) Build quality - The door thud is something I've only come across in the reviews after I bought the car. Most of my experience of sitting in cars has been from Europe where the cheapest taxis are usually Toyota Corollas or Skoda Octavias. So when I saw the Palio in the showroom, I didn't find anything great about that. It was only when I banged my friend's Wagon-R door a month later on a trip and it sounded like I had just banged the door of an ST bus. Being slightly mental, I opened his door and slammed it again just to check. I couldn't believe that a consumer car could have doors shutting like a Tempo trax! Sheet metal quality has been debated to hell's end. I have no way to evaluate that so I shall leave that to the more experienced folks.
6) Steering - I found the steering slightly heavier than the Aveo but I'm used to it now so it doesn't bother me. I am sure there are lighther steerings out there.
7) Gearbox - I for one, rather LIKE the 'rubbery' feel of the gearbox. I find that it gives me a more precise idea of whether the gear has slotted correctly and I find myself less scared of breaking the stick off if I exert slightly greater force than necessary. To people who like to hear clicks instead of thuds for gear changes - this probably isn't your ideal gearbox.
8) Service - I had the most harrowing experience before buying the car. It almost made me change my mind. They didn't offer even a penny off or even a penny-worth's accessories. I even had to pay for the bloody (or rather, muddy) mud flaps in spite of buying the top end diesel which is the most expensive car in their Palio lineup.
The service afterwards was a lot better though. The first servicing was done promptly even though I hadn't taken a prior appointment. After a few requests, they agreed to slot me in somewhere and completed the
service the same day. They tried to charge me for a 'catalytic convertor cleaning' but I flatly refused to pay anything because it was a free servicing and should hence be 'totally and absolutely' free. To the noobs out there - please remember this. If they do not inform you of work that they intend to do on your car, you are not obligated to pay them for it. So always ask for an estimate and urge them to ask for your approval if any additional work needs to be carried out on the car.
I had the unfortunate accident of a truck-driver-in-a-hurry-to-catch-his-curry scratching and denting my right fender at a traffic signal. The service station's paint shop gave me an accurate time and amount estimate and completed the work satisfactorily. When I noticed a very slight colour darkness mismatch, I was promised that if I didn't find the work satisfactory after a couple of days, I could bring the car back in and they would repaint the thing again for free. I did not feel the need to go back - the colour has merged properly.
If it wasn't for the attempted overcharging during servicing, I would have given them a 9/10 on after sales service. After conidering that they didn't insist that I pay when I refused to, I would give them a more than respectable 7.5/10.
Please note that my purchase and all this service is Pandit Auto in Pune. I wouldn't even touch BU Bhandari after the experience that I had with them before I bought the vehicle.
9) Space - When I went into the market looking for a diesel hatch, I had two options - Swift and Indica. I didn't even think of the Palio then - nobody I knew ever had a Palio. Once I got into the backseat of the Swift, I immediately cancelled that out from my list. There was no way I was going to pay almost 6Lac for a car that has only slightly more space than the alto. Frankly, that is what sealed the deal (or no deal) for the Swift. Even if it had the best engine in the world with a 50,000 Rupee music system, I wouldn't buy the car. All the factors about zippier ride, better gearshift etc. did not even come to mind.
I then went to look at the Indica DICOR. Surprisingly BU Bhandari told me that the DICOR was discontinued because the new Indica Vista was to be launched so I could either wait for that or buy the older diesel Indica.
That is when I saw the Palio in their showroom. It was a Furnace Red MJD SDX, which is exactly what I ended up buying later. I was absolutely floored by the front look and it instantly replaced the Swift as the 'best looking hatch' for me. I was surprised to know that it was a Palio. The double-barrel (actually, triple-barrel because the indicators are housed in tiny barrels themselves) headlights reminded me of my favourite car brand - the Alfa Romeo. For some time, I thought it was a lift off the classic but then I realised that Fiat itself owns Alfa Romeo too. Anyway, I thought that it would be a lot more expensive than the Indica but found that it wasn't and I decided to buy it right then. A hundred negative reviews and raised eyebrows only strengthened my resolve to buy the car on its merits rather than reviews. I did the same when buying my Bajaj bike five years ago and last month I had a man ask me what new model that bike was. My point is that if you maintain your machines well, they will last you well, unless of course you're stuck with a complete lemon.
Coming back to the point of 'space', I bought a car cover meant for Indica thinking that my car is the same size as the Indica. Ripped it during the inaugural covering because it is a good deal longer and possibly wider than the Indica and has more interior space as well. The Indica Vista though beats all other hatches when it comes to interior space.
10) Looks - As I've already mentioned, it is the best looking hatch out there for me. No doubts on that at all. The swift is the only thing that is even a contender. The Vista is close too but the others - Getz, U-VA, Fabia all look like they were designed in modules and then randomly welded together. Yuck times three there. Looks are a very personal choice of course so if anyone thinks the Getz is the best looking hatch, we can't really say anything, can we? And pigs can fly! LOL.
11) Road presence - One thing that goes against the Indicas in spite of being good vehicles is their presence on the road. There are too many of them. Unfortunately, the same thing has happened with the Swift. There are just too many of them. The Palios are a rare commodity at least upto this point. It it always nice to see another MJD on the road and wave out to the driver.
Very, very detailed report. A few points :
1) About seating position. I dont know if Palio has one or not, but Uno diesel came with eccentric rails for front seats. As you pull the seat forward, the seat would get a bit higher. I would like to add that this was very good system, I dont think Palio has one. Palio seating position is not bad, but a rather middle of the road approach for me. But if owner is happy about the car, then whats better than that ?
2) Regarding the pedal placement. I dont know what Fiat engineers had on mind, but I dont like the pedal placement. My shoe size is 10 ( add one for broad toe ), so I find it very difficult to drive M800. Cars with nearer placement is dangerous for me. But again, as you have poninted out, normally, its not a problem.
3) About the engine noise, I think Fiat could have done better. If Maruti can do it, they can also do it.
4) The overall build and ride quality of Palio still remain among the best.
Congrats on your buy. Very very detailed and neat review. Palio is a great vehicle which can be explored only after you own it and I am still exploring :)
What a detailed review is that. Hats off to you great_guns for a great write up.
Well i am SDX owner myself and i would agree on each every point you made, regarding the ' Hue & Cry ' that people make for FIAT.
One needs to own one to understand why people praise FIAT, but that is asking for too much from an individual, as for that you need to buy one.
So its basically a plunge that one needs to take and ones it done, its all :)
Almost daily i travel on Delhi-Gurgaon expressway at speeds of 100+, max. being 135kmph up till this morning and it was only when i saw the ODO i realized that i was at 130+ :), was just having some fun with a SWIFT VDi.
Its a brilliant car and even i love when people on road turn there head to get a glimpse of my Black SDX.
Congrats and that was a clear & detail sum up.
Congratulations. Just a few points over and above my regularly updated 16,000 km review of the same car (albeit the SDE variant).
1. Turn up the ICE and forget the engine noise! I wish I could get hold of the guy who designed the insulation for the Swift.
2. Ergonomics are spot on. Realised that when I did 650 kms over all sorts of roads, really good and really bad, in 13 hours. No aches, pains or stiff necks / backs.
3. Clutch could have been lighter.
4. Think Sedan rather than Hatchback. Driving this car is not an issue after that, even within the city where one requires tighter manoeuvres.
5. Attention to detail in the interiors and a few other places is excellent. A small example is Wash / Wipe having independent controls, unlike Marutis where wiper starts working on the glass even before water gets sprayed properly.
6. Vista may have great interior space, but the boot is in Swift territory.
7. Build quality is still very good, but at places I think Fiat has done some cost-cutting. Reminds me of Bajaj putting Eurogrip tyres on Pulsars nowadays as opposed to MRF Zappers like earlier.
8. Squeaking door beadings dilute the charm of a rattle-free car! But a spot of WD-40 spray has helped.
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Great review man, i just feel like going and buying a palio right now, very un biased, truthful and logical.
Thanks a lot for the comments, guys. I hope I would be in as good or even better a mood than this when I pen down my 5000 or 10,000KM review.
Te engine noise in swift is lesser than Palio for two reasons,
1. Slightly better dampening in the cabin than Palio
2. The DDIS engines are manufactured in suzuki plants and go through a run-in for a few 1000 Kms. This does not happen in the case of 1.3 MJD produced by fiat till now.This is mainly because of the numbers of DDIS engines manufactured against the number of MJD manufactured. With linea being launched and Fiat planning to export 1.3 MJD engines from India, the future fiat cars with 1.3 MJD will be silent.
engines are run-in even before they are ploked into a car?
My office has only one other MJD but has about 10 older versions of Palio.
Go out on the street and i used to celebrate when i saw another Palio; this when i bought the car Palio spotting has become a habit. 10 months later i was killing time in Forum i commented to my wife that i had not seen a Palio for about 5 mins on Hosur main road she smiled and pointed one out to me that was sitting at a signal.
So if you live in Bangalore Palios are no longer unique.
@Shantyrocks, yes that is true engines are run in before they are installed. It is not just engine noise that reduces due to this but also mileage improves.
Nice write up there Ganesh. As you rightly pointed out, Palio's interiors are still one of the most ergonomic around. The middle A/C louvres for example are a great tool to direct the cold air effectively, the A/C controls for which you barely have to lift your hand from the gearlever and the power window pods placement which is designed to be operated by human beings and not gymnasts. Its all about function and the form isnt too bad either and I am perfectly happy with the little compormise that I have to make.
The only gripe is the biggish steering wheel and smaller ovrm's which barely tell whats coming from behind.
Enjoy your drive and keep us posted on the experience.
Very detailed and extensive review :thumbs up (reminded me of architecht's posts).
I think i missed the FE figures or have you posted them?
Did you instal remote locking/ anti theft ? if yes which 1?
cuas i heard some horror story recently about remote locking for palios
Awesome review which is completely unbiased and coming straight from the heart. With thr interiors I stick by to what you say, except for the color combos which it has. i would prefer the all black instead of the two tone.
Engine noise - My bro owns an MJD, and we got the second service done just last week, I would say that the engine noise has really come down.
However what I have noticed is some squeaking noise it makes when you try to turn the car the max it can be achieved, especially with u-turns..??
I have touched about 120 on the speedo with family, and it was a pleasure to drive the car with the confidence it gives you, just sticks to the road.
@ cruiser_1982: Are the FIAT engines manufactured in Suzuki? is that what you meant - I think the answer is no, they are manufactured in FIAT and then dispatched to MSIL, correct me if I'm wrong here!
According to Mangesh - FIAT India customer Service Manager - The Fiat engines doesn't require a run in
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