Premier Rio
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Customer Rating
: N/A
Expert Rating
: 7/10
: Yrs/Kms. (Whichever is earlier)
Ex-showroom price in 
 help (Rs.Lakhs)
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4.71 Lakhs-6.7 Lakhs

Strong Areas

  • City friendly size
  • Practical cabin
  • Good mileage
  • High ground clearance
  • Folding rear bench

Weak Areas

  • Pricy proposition
  • Small dealership support
  • Subpar quality 
  • Poorly crafted seats
  • No third row option
Premier Rio

Premier Rio one more compact SUV and attempt from Premier to enter Indian car market

Premier Padmini sure has ambition to re-establish itself as a potent car manufacturer that it was in pre-liberalisation era. However, what they will have no option but to match and stand-up to a far fierce competitors with a will to succeed against any odds and all of them with deep pockets.

Rio Road Test by Car Experts


Mahindra can pat itself on its back for kick starting the trend of mini SUV though in reality Premier was the first one to invent the need of the compact SUV in Indian automobile market.After the debacle of Padmini model, Premier tried to revive its fortunes with first generation Rio although the outcome was not very encouraging. Poor marketing and sluggish performance took their toll on Rio as vehicle failed to make its mark. A near zero dealership-network further negatively impacted its prospects and over the years, Rio struggled intensively to retain its identity in market.

But now Premier has finally decided to take on all these challenges head on and for the same concerted efforts have being done for quite some time to infuse some fresh blood to rather ailing proposition of Rio. As a result new updated Rio ushered in the market with some compelling eye catching, attention grabbing features and complemented it's launch with adequate media spends. On the one hand company has updated the looks and most importantly heart of the Rio, on the other marketing activities targeted to enhance the overall awareness has also being conducted in order to provide necessary sales impetus to the new Rio.

Powered by very famous and almost omnipresent multi-jet diesel engine from Fiat, Rio now looks ready to take the fight to the doorsteps of its rivals. With its trump card of novelty and practicality, Rio is sure to create some ripples in market provided this time it is fully backed by good dealership network and facilities. But then rather talking in fractions, we are more interested in knowing how accomplished this effort in its totality is? Is this the same old half-hearted attempt or Premier has left no stone unturned to make the Rio successful in its second avatar? We, at www.eacrdlr.com, find answers to these questions through our rigorous road test and come across the fact that this time Premier has indeed done a thorough homework that is sure to avoid the bleeding of Rio in battle field.


Look head on and Rio has everything that is required for a vehicle to be called a SUV. Tall stance, high ground clearance and bumper with plastic cladding leave no stone unturned to disguise you about its fully fledged SUV looks. However the headlamps are not as strong as they should be; still Rio is sure to take you in with its SUV pretensions.

But when you see the car in profile you will instantly discover that it is indeed a compact SUV with length under the crucial 4m mark. Still Rio continues to have all the bits of a SUV with sporty roof rails and plastic cladding tends to hoist the flag for its SUV credentials.

Rear with its vertical tail lamps and tail gate mounted spare exudes the character. Especially the big wheel mounted at the back screams about its sportiness in plenty and helps to foster the overall sportiness dimension of the car.

All in all Rio looks great in flesh and even though it is under 4m mark, it has all the attributes that modern SUVs’ of today boasts of. Rio seamlessly blends the practicality and sportiness virtues and in the process doesn't lose its aesthetic appeal.


Step into the cabin of Rio and one will instantly recognize extensive use of the scalpel to manage cost with the objective of managing the final price to the car buyers in India. Unfortunately all these are glaringly evident even when Rio tries to go with minimal equipment and fuss.

Centre console is simple and consists of the round dials relating to speed, control and temperature setting of the car. Instrument cluster is large and easy to read but features only the basic information like speed, rpm, hot-cold status and fuel availability. Colour combination of beige, grey however provides some much needed respite from the boring and plain jane design that RIO is adorned with.

Power windows switches are located on doors which are not very intuitive and further let down by the quality of material. Of course considering its price tags we were not expecting the level of Audi’s quality but still Premier should have come with up lifted cabin. Glove box though deep but not very wide, thus limiting its usability to small stuff only.

Coming to the space dimension and Rio starts to change the negative impressions of ill-fitting and poor quality interiors fitments. Space in the overall proposition is good and average size folk will find it sufficient in most of the cases. Both front and rear are adequate to swallow 4 persons comfortably but the rear seat with high sitting position and good thigh support is more comfortable than the abruptly upright front chairs. Also the rear seats can be reclined further with push of an easy lever, which is good to enhance the comfort factor of rear seat passengers. Further the seats have the flexibility of complete fold but even then the floor is far from being flat. But boot space is more than adequate even with seats in their original position.


Power to the Rio is available through both options of petrol as well as diesel but from the on-going trend one can easily ascertain that the focus will be on the oil burner which in fact is ubiquitous in Indian cars. Yes the case in point is Fiat’s flagship multi-jet diesel engine which has now found another customer in Rio. This engine is all but familiar though its placement has been done longitudinally in order to support the rear wheel drive of Rio.  Power stands at 72 bhp while torque of 183 Nm peaks between 1800-2400 rpm.

Crank the engine and even at idle noisy level are far from satisfactory with very perceptible diesel clatter that is audible even sitting inside at the driver seat. However with increasing speed the noise levels do come down even though to a level which can be termed as satisfactory. Power delivery is linear; and more than the other derivatives of the same oil burner that currently working under the hoods of Maruti and Tata Motors cars. Rio responds adequately to the part throttle reflexes. Mid-range is also good as Rio doesn't hints at any let up in performance and light weight has also made its contribution in making Rio a powerful and performing proposition.

North-South placed longitudinal engine of Rio is mated with 5-speed manual transmission which is not very positive in its action. There is lot of elastic impressions associated with it and one need to direct the gears to slot into desired position. Had it been sleeker and direct, the driving pleasure would have gone up by a notch or two. We also felt that brakes were not very confidence inspiring though the sales personnel did mention that fact that it being a test drive car it has been handled quite roughly.

RIO - Dynamics

With the McPherson strut hardware up front and 5 rods system at the rear, Rio makes an overall good case for the passengers comfort on the move. Especially low speed ride is comfortable and the wide 205 mm tyres do the good work of absorbing every crests on the road. Potholes are also discarded with applaud but then the high speed ride is not very confident inspiring.

It's high ground clearance (200 mm) and tall proportions further aggravates the vehicles body roll. Although we initially thought the small length could provide some respite, however sadly that didn't happen. With generous body roll, Rio demands a sedate and relaxing style of driving and that you will quickly learn even after a short drive.


Starting price tag of 5.00 lakh for base petrol model Rio stretches with its range extending to 7.24 lakh for top end diesel variant (ex-showroom, Delhi), RIO no doubt fares fairly well on value for money proposition and has no direct competition to face with at this price range. The main deterrent points which could negatively affect the sales prospects of this improved version of Rio are the overall quality and of course accessibility which is driven by the number of dealerships. If Premier has any intention of becoming a respectable player once again in the Indian car market, it will surely have to up the ante on its product quality and dealership facilities. Compact SUV market is only going to get more cluttered and competitive and will not be a place for car manufacturers who do things half heartedly. Not only the product but even the depth of the pocket will define the success or failure in this growing segment of the Indian car market. 

Style & Substance
             :3/5         Ride & Handling           : 3/5

Interiors & Ergonomics:            : 2.5/5                                 Safety & Equipment      : 3/5

Power Plant & Transmission        : 3.5/5                      Fuel Efficiency              : 3.5/5

Value for Money                              : 3.5/5

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Ex-Showroom Price Delhi

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