Premier Auto, the erstwhile Premier Automobile Limited, has launched the first compact SUV Rio. The company began as Premier Automobile Limited in 1944 and manufactured Chrysler Corporation vehicles. It manufactured cars under different names like Dodge, Plymouth and DeSoto. Premier Padmini, which is a reincarnation Fiat 1100 was one the most famous models of the erstwhile Premier Automobile Limited in India during the 1990s. Now, the company is making a comeback in the passenger car segment with the Rio after a period of nine years. The Premier Rio is basically the Zotye Nomada which is a mini crossover and is manufactured by leading Chinese auto manufacturer, Zotye Autos. The Premier Rio is a compact city SUV which has been developed on basis of advanced technology from domestic and international autos. The car is brought to India in the CKD version and will be assembled at Premier Auto's Chinchwad facility in Pune.
The Premier Rio is available only in diesel option. The compact SUV comes in three variants, the Ex, Dx and Lx. The Rio is powered by a 1.5L I-4 Turbo Diesel Engine. The engine is mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox for a relaxed driving experience and can generate a decent power of 65 bhp and a torque 152 Nm @ 2250 rpm. The engine feels underpowered in comparison to the weight of the Rio and 65 bhp is too less for an SUV, even for a compact SUV. This engine is basically Premier Auto's own engine that is essentially a downsized Peugeot TUD5 diesel engine. The engine is Euro-III ready and the company is taking adequate steps to meet the latest Euro-IV emission norms.
The Rio is no bigger than a hatchback. It measures 3900 mm in length, 1555 mm wide and 1670 mm tall. The Premier Rio stands on 205/70 R15 Steel wheels. A ground clearance of 195 mm endows the Rio to be driven on all kinds of roads without the worry of its floor being damaged. The suspension system of all the three variants consists of McPherson strut in the front and 5 rods system in the rear. These types of suspensions help the Rio glide over the uneven Indian roads easily. Coming to the exterior, the twin parabola headlamps with wire mesh grille and chrome strip on top of it add style to the Rio. The turn indicators are integrated into grey finished front bumpers which give it a bold SUV type looks. At the rear end it features vertical tail lamps in D-pillar. Moreover, the spare wheel which is mounted on the tail gate is reminiscent of the Ford Endeavour. With its significantly higher headroom, the Rio also offers more storage space than the large hatchbacks without enlarging its exterior dimensions. The Rio is a five-seater. The base model of Rio comes with front power windows, rear defogger, rear wiper/washer and electric adjustment for outside rear view mirrors. In addition to all these comfort features the top model of Rio comes with AC, Central Locking, ABS, EBD, CD player with AM/FM and premium fabric in different shade. The front and rear seats of Premier Rio are firm and well bolstered but the overall quality of upholstery is not up to the mark. Keyless Entry and safety feature like ABS with EBD is available only in the top-end top. Side impact beams, Brake assist are available across all the variants along with chills lock and 3-point ELR seatbelts with pretensioners on the front.