Over the years, the Indian automotive market has matured from small hatchbacks to entry sedans to C+ sedans. This year, the focus of the manufacturers will be on two key segments –Compact Sedans and Compact SUVs.
Maruti Suzuki recently launched their contender for the CS market – Swift Dzire and rest of the manufacturers such as Tata and Mahindra are expected to follow suit.
Coming to the Compact SUV market; now this is going to be extremely interesting. Ford, Renault and Mahindra are honing their challengers as we speak. But little known rival is already present in the market from a long forgotten company called ‘Premier Auto’. Does it ring a bell?
Premier Auto, once a prominent Indian auto manufacturer, is now only famous for coating the Mumbai streets black and yellow with their Padmini taxis. The company was long forgotten from the Indian automotive scene and was secluded from the growth of the auto sector in recent years.
However, when the company finally decided to come back to the scene, it knew that it had to come out with something innovative. With limited research/manufacturing capabilities, a whole new product developed from grounds up was definitely out of the question.
Hence, Premier decided to partner with a manufacturer from China – Zotye and decided to bring their compact SUV – Nomad to India. The principle ideology of the product was quite simple
1) Indians roads are at times quite terrible, a raised ground clearance will definitely be appreciated.
2) The Nomad is essentially a Daihatsu Terios. Thus, it’s a 10 year old proven engineering; near perfect for Indian conditions.
3) Indians love a BIG car but very few can afford one. A 5-6 lakh SUV should be well appreciated by the market.
Thus, the Nomad was rebranded as Rio and put on sale for the customers. The product bombed quite badly. Forget limited sales outlet and budget marketing activities, people detested the outdated looks of the Rio. Moreover, the design of the SUV had the air of the Chinese design which made it look like the odd one out. Didn’t take long for Premier to fix the problem.
At the 2012 New Delhi Auto Expo, Premier Auto presented Rio+, basically a Nomad II with Premier badges. The Rio+ overcomes one of the major flaws of the Rio – its looks. Where the Rio looks dated and old, the Rio+ looks sharp and stylish. Lets looks at the major changes that the Rio+ offers.
At first glance, you can easily notice that the Rio+ has got new headlamps making the overall front fascia much pleasing to the eye. The double barrel headlamps have sharp bulges that cut into the body. A new front grill with a pinch of chrome, a new front bumper, a chin spoiler and new foglamps work wonders for the design bringing it bang up-to-date.
On the side profile, Premier has updated the gaudy plastic side body cladding and wheel arches with body colored ones.
To make it look sophisticated, the Rio+ comes with turn indicators integrated in the ORVMS.
The roof rails give the little soft roader an outdoorsy look. The chunky 15’ inch alloy wheels give it a very masculine stance and are the real highlights of the overall design.
Coming to the rear, the tailgate mounted spare wheel give it’s the classic SUV look. A sporty spoiler with integrated brake lights and chrome tip exhaust bring a breath of fresh air in a rather old design.
The Rio+ will be sold alongside the Rio with a marginal price difference. However, when you compare both body styles side-by-side, it’s difficult to make a case for the Rio’s design. Here is what we are talking about:
Overall, the Rio+ will make more heads turn than the outdated Rio. The Rio+ looks young and energetic and, in terms of design, fits the bill of a modern compact SUV. Do tune in tomorrow for the interior review and driving impressions.