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 Expert Review By Ecardlr

Premier Auto, in a bid to make a comeback in the passenger car segment of the Indian automobile market, has come up with a new mini crossover with the looks of compact SUV, essentially, the Zotye Nomada, another mini crossover manufactured by Chinese car maker.



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Premier Auto, the home grown auto manufacturer and the erstwhile Premier Automobile Limited, launched the first compact sports utility vehicle, Rio in October last year. The company started as Premier Automobile Limited way back in 1944 by the industrial pioneer Walchand Hirachand and was one of the first companies in India to manufacture automobiles in collaboration with Chrysler Corporation U.S.A. It manufactured cars under various names like the Plymouth, DeSoto and Dodge. After that Premier have had many joint ventures with Nissan, Peugeot, Fiat, etc. During the 1990's, Premier Padmini sedan, a revival of the Fiat 1100 was one of the most popular models in India of the former Premier Automobile Limited. 
Once an eminent Indian auto maker is now only notable for painting the streets of Mumbai yellow and black with their Padmini taxis. Premier, hence, decided to make a comeback in partnership with Zyote, the auto manufacturer from China by bringing their compact SUV, Nomad, to India keeping in mind three principle ideologies. First, the Indian road conditions are sometimes very rough & rugged and so an elevated ground clearance would be liked. Second, the Nomad, in essence, is a Daihatsu Terios and thus it incorporates ten years of substantiated engineering which is right for the Indian roads and third, an SUV in the price range of 5 to 6 lakh will have the affordability for the Indian customers.
Hence, the company is now making a comeback, with rebranding Nomad as Rio - an all new SUV, in the passenger car segment after a gap of nine years. The Premier Rio is essentially the Zotye Nomada, which is a mini crossover manufactured by Chinese auto maker, Zoyte Autos. The Premier Rio comes in three variants: EX, DX and LX. 
Going by the design of the SUV, Rio looks quite familiar and ordinary as it does not have any distinctiveness about it in terms of design. This was very likely as the Premier Rio is essentially Zotye Nomada which was at one time sold as Daihatsu Terios during the late 1990's. The Chinese car maker, Zotye Auto bought the rights of Daihatsu Terios and so now a deal has been brought about by Premier, the Indian auto maker, wherein the complete car except the drivetrain has been introduced in India as a CKD (Completely Knocked Down) unit which would be assembled at the Premier Auto's facility at Chinchwad in Pune.
The front of the SUV sports twin double barrel head lights with parabolic reflectors and wire mesh grille chrome lined on the top making the front bumper attractive. The grey finished new front bumper have integrated turn indicators, new fog lights as well as a chin spoiler that lends a sporty and sophisticated semblance to the vehicle. The side profile in the Rio as updated body coloured cladding and wheel arches. The roof rails make it an outdoor vehicle with the beefy 15 inch alloy wheels providing it a masculine stance. The rear end features revamped tail lights with upgraded bumper and integrated reverse lamps. The tail gate mounts the spare wheel similar to Endeavour and Safari giving it a classic SUV look. A sporty looking spoiler along with integrated brake lights and chrome finished exhaust tip is a welcome change in the design of the vehicle.
The Premier Rio measures 3900 mm in length, 1555 mm in width and 1670 in height. It stands on 205/70 R15 steel wheels. A ground clearance of 195 mm provides Rio with the ability to be driven on any kind of road conditions without the apprehension of the floor getting damaged.
Looking at the interiors, the number of changes made are less than those made to the outside. The major changes made in the inside of the vehicle are the dual tone colour scheme, with beige upholstery and sea gray plastic of the fascia which really don't entirely match although it gives an airy and spacious feel to the cabin and a new steering wheel which seems little small.  It can be quite intimidating for the elderly and women to step into the Rio as it sits quite higher above the ground and does not come with side stepper to aid the ingress into the vehicle. The interiors have been kept very basic. The plastic quality inside the vehicle is unsatisfactory with hard plastics, hazard light button with tacky feeling and uneven gaps between the panels. The company could have done much better with the peel off Premium stickers. The grab handles too feel flimsy and should have been more solid. A bit of chrome has been added to accessorize the steering wheel to make it look little stylish. The positioning of the wiper and the indicator stalks are much appreciable. The steering wheel does not have audio controls mounted on it however it comes with the extra cushioning for the palms. The OVRMs are electrically adjustable however one needs to open the window to fold them. The base model of this five seater comes with power windows at the front and electrically adjustable outside rear view mirrors with rear defogger as well as rear wiper and washer.
The Rio also offers a lot of storage space with its considerably larger head room than the other big hatchbacks without increasing its dimensions from the outside. However, Rio's compact exterior dimensions have taken its toll on the space in the inside. Also the rear does not have its own cooling vents making it uncomfortable for the passengers at the back. It only has a small ashtray at the back.
The top end model of Rios comes with safety features like features like central locking, child locks, ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) along with EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution). The side impact bars and the brake assist along with pretensioners on the front make for a steady and safe driving. Comfort in the car is improved by the inclusion of features like air conditioning, CD player with FM/AM and premium fabric for comfortable seating. 
The luggage space at the rear is quite sufficient and as the seats in the rear can be folded flat, the space can be further augmented. The luggage space is illuminated by a small light which makes the loading of the luggage and searching easy in dark. The spare wheel mounted on the tailgate gives more storage area for the tools.
Engine, Transmission and Performance
Premier Rio is a compact diesel sub-four metre SUV which has been sourced from China and developed based on the advanced technology from the international as well as domestic automobiles. The Premier Rio is powered by 1.5L I-4 turbo charged diesel engine mated to a five speed manual transmission for relaxed driving. It is equipped with downsized TUD5 diesel engine by Peugeot which also powers two other Premiers: the Roadstar and Sigma. Premier has decreased the cubic capacity of the turbo diesel engine to 1489 cc from 30 cc fitted in the SUV that churns out a maximum power of 65 bhp at 4000 rpm with a maximum torque of 152 Nm at the rate of 2250 rpm. However, the cylinder head and engine block are still imported from France. The compact SUV Rio makes use of the Zotye gearbox Compared to the weight of the Rio the engine seems underpowered as 65 bhp is quite less for a compact SUV. The vehicle being rear-driven still handles quite well and has slight bodyroll considering the small track and wheelbase. The engine in the Premier Rio is meets the Euro III emission norms and the company is taking requisite steps to make it ready to meet the Euro IV emission standards.
Ride and Handling
The suspension system in all the three variants comprise of MacPherson strut suspension at the front and 5-rod (5-link) suspension in the rear. With the strut, or MacPherson strut, suspension is powerful and have a great road holding capability for straight tracks. It cruises along dexterously and with ease on the Indian roads being furnished with these kinds of suspension systems.  The 5-rod or mult-ilink suspension allows for good ride as well as good handling. Hence, the 5-rod suspension system in Rio lets the vehicle to move easily while driving off-road. The car stands firm on the ground with robust 15 inch alloy wheels.
Fuel Economy
Premier Rio brings about a mileage of 11 to 12 kmpl in the city whereas on the highways it manages around 15 to 16 kmpl as claimed by the company.
The Premier Rio, the mini crossover, targets the Indian customers who aspires to owe a SUV type vehicle which suits their pockets and with compact SUV looks as well as rear wheel drive. It is a reasonable alternative to an entry level sedan or a large hatchback being priced in the range of Rs 5.00 to Rs 7.24 lakh (ex showroom price, New Delhi). However, the aspirational Indian customer will be disappointed with the interiors of Rio which is a disgrace as it is, ultimately, a good car with rear wheel drive and true front engine that the customer can have at this price range.  
Comfort: 3/5
Refinement: 3/5
Safety: 3/5
Ride: 2.5/5
Handling: 3/5
Value for Money: 3.5/5

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