The compact Rio marked the resurgence of the Premier brand in 2009. The company has just updated its compact SUV with fresh new looks and more importantly a BSIV compliant 1.2 litre petrol unit. ZigWheels takes a look
It’s a known fact that SUV’s are a big hit with the Indian masses. The Toyota Fortuner and the Mahindra XUV 5oo are two of the prime examples that are testimony to the fact that we Indians just can’t have enough of these big burly vehicles. However their biggest strength is also one of their biggest Achilles heels. While their massive size is one of their main draws, that same size is a big problem while finding tight parking spots or maneuvering in bumper to bumper traffic. The Rio then is the solution to just that problem.
With a proper SUV silhouette along with the dimensions slightly bigger than your average B-segment hatch the Rio was pretty much the first of its kind here in India. While the first one was pretty much the same as the Dario Terios in China, the new refreshed version indeed looks pretty good. There are the new shapely headlights along with an all new bumper which also get integrated fog lights. Even the grille has been redesigned and gets a nice chrome strip too. This along with chunky 205 section tyres gives the new Rio Plus a very modern and chunky look.
However, the same modern lines are not carried on to the insides. Interiors remain pretty much the same from the older car. Quality does seem to have improved but first impressions suggest it could do with a lot more improvement. The beige surrounding does make the car feel a bit roomier though. However space inside is at a premium.
Powering the Rio is a 1.2 litre 4-cylinder petrol unit which pushes out 76.6 PS @ 5800 rpm and a maximum torque of 103.9 Nm between 3500 - 4250 rpm. That propels the little SUV to a 100 km/h in 20.8 seconds. Not very slow by other 1.2 litre hatchback standards but post the 100 km/h mark the underpowered engine starts showing its weakness. Handling is pretty adequate for the kind of power the Rio puts out and the car feels nice and nimble around town. Bad roads aren’t a problem either thanks to the increased ground clearance which now stands at 200 mm. Retardation was pretty good thanks to the ABS equipped brakes. For the petrol we got 9.8 kmpl around town and 14 kmpl on the highway which pretty much does the job.
At Rs. 5.96 Lakh for the base version and Rs. 6.23 lakh for the top GLX trim, the Rio isn’t exactly cheap, but only until you realize that you are getting the best of an SUV and a compact hatch. That said Premier still has a lot of quality issues which it needs to address. That done, the Rio can pretty much be what it always intended to be.