By Shoeb R Kalania and Shrawan Raja
The current (or the last generation) Palio was discontinued from 13 major Indian cities from April 2010 due to the application of BS4 emission norms.
But that is not going to change plans to bring in a new small car in two years time, which we believe is the next gen Palio.
Fiat has not been having a great time in the market after they joined hands with Tata. Sure the perception is changing and Punto customers have easy access to service stations. But the numbers sadly aren't there.
There seems to be a need to place a model in the lower segment to increase the customer base and improve the visibility of the Fiat brand and that's where the new Palio will fit in. At the end of the day nothing brings more publicity to a company than a product. If Fiat can sell an affordable small car, more people will get to experience the pleasure of traveling in a modern Fiat.
The next generation Palio will be bigger and spacious. The exterior design will borrow cues and curves from bigger sister Punto. One look and you'll know its a modern Fiat.
There are currently no specific details on the technical side, though engine options could range from 1L to 1.4L found in the other Fiat cars today. There is a very high possibility of the 900cc twin air petrol engine making it on to the new Palio. Perhaps the entry level model will use this low-cost powertrain.
So what does Fiat need to improve on the Palio?
1) The turning radius has to improve. Moving the Himalayas is easier than parking a Palio in tight gaps.
2) The new Multi-jet diesel Palio rattles quite a bit. The dashboard gives out all sorts of noises and it feels like there is a family of insects nesting in there somewhere.
3) The sound deadening can be a lot better. The engine makes a lot of noise even during idle, it should be asked to go about its job silently.
4) The pedal placement and seat position can be adjusted to make ingress easy. The clutch travel is long, it can be brought down a little.
5) The switches and controls on the new model will obviously be in tune with the current time. They need to operate softly and be finished well.
6) The Palio name needs to go. I think even calling it the "Fiat Project 326" is a better idea in India.
What does Fiat need to leave untouched?
1) I love the suspension. It soaks up bumps which cars costing double the money struggle to do.
2) Don't meddle with the brakes. They are extremely good.
3) Rear seat configuration is apt for even tall people, so that needs to stay on.
4) The gear shifting is not very precise, but I love the feel. It makes the car feel very alive as I put it through its paces.
If Fiat can provide the same feel that the older Palio had and an improved after sales service network, it will surely bring changes to the sales charts of this company.
Rendering Source - Quatrorodas.abril.com.br