Disclaimer : The opinions are my personal views after test driving the car for few kilometers.People reading this, please make your final opinion/decsion post evaluating all aspects on your own. I hold no accountability what-so-ever for your buying desicions.
Well, from external looks, this one is a good looking car. Not very, but just about good. The tyres, the front grill and also the the way, the spare tyre is attached in the rear. Red colur with black bumpers and side skirs are a good combination. The door opens to a certain disappointment, giving a feeling of very light body quality. This one is a CKD (complete knocked down) unit assembled in India, with a peogeot engine.
Interior (Features, Space & Comfort)
Its sad and bad. If this is the Dahihatsu Terios, (http://www.daihatsu.com/catalogue/terios/index.html ) the key still bore the famous DAHIHATSU logo (also sold as Zotye Nomad in South Africa, http://www.zotyeglobal.com/products.htm), which sold untill 2005, before getting revamped elsewhere in the globe, then, India has come a long way in having cars with good interiors way before 2005. Everything about the interior is not so encouraging. The instrument panel, the music system (looked like a assembled Delhi or Ulhasnagar piece), the steering wheel and the seats. The dashboard looked like a 3rd grade quality, which its glove box being worse than that of 20 year old Maruti 800. The boot opens as a door rather than a top opening hood. The boot space is nothing much to talk about.
Engine Performance, Fuel Economy and Gearbox
I drove this car for about 10 kms. The intial reaction of the engine is its noisy (diesel of course). The torque on paper seemed better than the actual drive. The engine was roaring and made me feel, as if I am driving a TATA Ace or something similar. The car (or should we call it 4X2 SUV?) has a body roll. After 90kmph, it was shaking and the road holding capability was extremely poor. Suspension was average and the steering was not so acurate either. Between the speed of 40kmph and 80 kmp, the car was OK to drive. The gearbox was poor. Not sure about the fuel economy though, but heard its good.
Ride Quality & Handling
Ride was average and handling was strictly average. Nothing great to write about. The car, as written has a body roll and doesn't give a stable ride beyond 90kmph. The turning radius is good, as the wheel base is smaller and its a compact car.
If you dream of a new SUV 24X7 and for some reason and loosing sleep over it, don't like Tata and Mahindra, then you have no other choice but to look at Rio, as there are no other choice available in India at this price range (Well, the top end costing 7.3 lacs on road, is not something cheap, but a price tag below 5 lacs on road Mumbai for the top end, may attract more buyers). For me, its a not the kind of car you bring to India in 2010. Car buyers in India have grown many folds from Maruti 800 and Premier Padmini days. Also, I was not sure, after buying, if the dealer will have look at you as a existing customer to take care of your post sales service. I was promptly attended to by the local dealer, which was a good feeling, but still had the question in mind of post sales support. I guess, people abandoned FIAT (after their successful run with Uno and Palio) for many years, before accepting them partially with the launch of Linea and Punto. And the reason was purely post sales service, as they had no issues with GREAT cars FIAT made. If that was so for FIAT, then, Premier needs to get out of the Padmini and NE110 mind set. After all, RIO neither gave me a feeling of a GREAT Car, not a feeling of GOOD support.
Areas of improvement
Everything else apart from external looks.