Ever heard about the Daihatsu Terios? It was born in 1997 and it is sold in India as the Premier RiO. No, not the second generation model, but the first generation model is being sold in India. The rights of the first generation Terios were sold to China’s Zoyte in 2006. Premier (one of the oldest automobile companies in India) imports CKD kits from China and assembles the Terios. I had a chance to drive this car. All I can tell you: This 15 year old does show its age. Premier positions the RiO as India’s first compact SUV. I position it as a fail.
Rounding out the poor quality of plastics and abundant panel gaps, the RiO has poor dynamics too. It doesn’t drive well and has a lot of body roll. There is absolutely zilch feedback from the steering wheel. Power comes in from Fiat’s 1.3-litre Multijet diesel engine, which produces 72 BHP and 183 Nm. This motor is already powering close to 10 cars in India (from Suzuki, GM to Tata). Premier has the NVH levels all wrong, the engine sounds very noisy and there are a lot of vibrations . There is decent power for city driving though.
The cabin is quite cramped and there is not much space for the passenger. The vehicle is priced at Rs. 7.94 lakhs / $ 14,400 (with taxes and insurance), which buys you front power windows, power steering alloy wheels, an audio system and ABS as standard. There are no rear power windows, or airbags. At this price, one can get the Hyundai i20, or Maruti Suzuki Swift, or Volkswagen Polo. Now you know why Premier sells only 200 units a month, while the Swift sells close to 18000 units.
Faisal Ali Khan is the owner/operator of MotorBeam.com, a website covering the auto industry of India.