By on May 14, 2014

Fiat-Palio-Way-01-560x373

As I mentioned in my recent analysis of FCA’s plans for Brazil, Fiat is chugging along at almost full capacity and doesn’t really need new cars to compete here. However, that doesn’t mean they will quit fiddling with their product line. Behold the latest and greatest in South America: Fiat’s adventurous new Palio Fire Way!

According to Brazilian enthusiast site bestcars.com.br, the latest Fiat to sport the trappings of the very successful aventureiro idea is the the Palio Fire. Launched way back in 1996, the bonesof the car has remained untouched, while the front and back have been redesigned (Giorgetto Giugiaro penned this version) and the mechanicals have been completely overhauled. With a ride height 15 mm taller than the regular version, what else does the new Palio offer consumers for the price of 27,860 reais (about 4,000 more than the regular)?

They get some “fancy” decals, plastic cladding on the wheel openings, plastic protection on the bottom of bumpers, plastic side mirror covers and plastic hubcaps. Lots of plastic. Besides that they get a tachometer and (very slightly) better seat fabrics and blacked out headlights.

The Palio Fire Way comes with the same equipment as the regular version, like the now mandatory dual frontal airbags and ABS, and – wait for it – internal manual controls for the side mirrors and clock.  Air conditioning, power steering, windows and locks, alloy wheels, more airbags, really anything that’s worth having, is an option and costs high dollars to get.

The Palio Fire isn’t a complete crapcan. It actually gives you a soft, compliant ride, seating for five is tight but possible, the trunk will hold a week’s worth of groceries or the luggage of a small family on vacations. The 1.0 engine puts out 70-ish horses and sounds pretty good doing so and is responsive. Fuel economy is not bad.

Finally, Brazil is a very large country with miles of back roads, unpaved roads, broken roads. For those out in the country and who can’t pay for a pickup or need a car to take the family along, the extra height is quite useful. Even in Brazilian cities, some see benefits in the extra ride height as it helps in overcoming the numerous potholes, speed bumps, unbelievably deep gutters so prevalent in Brazilian cities.

This is the kind of car Brazilians can expect to see over the course of the next couple of years. Cars that been selling for more than a while and will continue to do so, aided by the cosmetic touches Fiat is so good at. Real new cars? You’ll have to wait until 2016.

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25 Comments on “Dispatches Do Brasil: No Way, It’s The Palio Way!...”


  • avatar
    LDMAN1

    The previous “Adventure” versions came with a “Locker” as the Brazilians call it. It is some kind of “diff’lock” for Front Wheel Drive that gave increased grip. The best one can get barring getting a full 4×4. Here is a video that shows the system in action. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SeE29kVJNiE I believe that Fiat had similar systems available on Alfa Romeo (something called the Q2, and on the Doblo or Fiorino.

    • 0 avatar

      Hey LDMAN1, the locker system is used by Fiat in its aventureiro line, but not for the cheapest. The Strada, Palio Weekend (SW) and Doblo Adventure all have it. I know a couple of people who have farms and love it in the rainy season when some dirt roads become muddy. Having the system it’s much more difficult to get stuck.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    It certainly looks like a 90s car they’ve attempted to keep current.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I was thinking it looks more like something from behind the Iron Curtain, which would make it one of the worst cars of the ’80s.

      • 0 avatar

        not really Cj, not really. Many, many makers from the East used Fiat platforms and older cars as a platform for their cars. But by the time this came around, that link had been largely broken.

        This car was a hit all over the developing world, among other things, for its looks and how modern it looked in the 90s, especially when put against the smaller cars common at the time.

        Nice try, but this time you missed by a mile.

        • 0 avatar
          Vipul Singh

          Massive flop in India, Marcelo. Mainly due to fuel economy concerns over the 1242cc petrol engine. In a case of utter stupidity, FIAT did not configure the odometer correctly for the tyre sizes it chose for India. This led to the odo showing fewer kilometers travelled than actual, making the fuel economy figures appear even worse than they actually were!

          Also, the Indians essentially clubbed this car in the same class as the kei cars from Japan and Korea (“because it is a hatch!”), and the Palio lost out in the fuel economy comparision, being 20% heavier

          FIAT is now extending the high ground clearence pseudo CUV idea to the SCCS platform Punto (calling it the “Avventura”) which is expected to have 195 or 205 mm of ground clearance. Do you have such a thing in Brazil?

          • 0 avatar

            IIRC you had one and loved it? Maybe it was another Indian commenter, but I believe it was you. Yeah, bad problems and trying to out the car in the wrong class. Hope they learned as the Linea is a relative flop here due to it being marketed in the wrong category.

          • 0 avatar
            Vipul Singh

            Marcelo, you remember correctly. I still own a 2002 Palio 1.6 and still love it. At least in the context of the Indian market, this is an example of how little progress has happened in this segment over the past 12 years. About the only area newer vehicles are clearly better is safety. Everything other ‘improvement’ has brought about an associated compromise. When it comes to steering feel and ride / handling compromise, this car has had few equals (apart from the Ford Figo – based on an old Fiesta – sold in India), even when one includes cars from higher segments. Of course, one could buy, say a hot version of the Skoda Octavia and conceivably get a better car overall, but then the Euros have a poor reliability and upkeep costs record in a hot, dusty and rough place like India.

    • 0 avatar

      Hey Corey, looks more modern than something like the Toyota Etios sold here. That said, yeah it does look dated, but since its been continually mechanically updated, its quite modern in that sense.

      It also did set a template for small cars from the 90s on. It’s taller than the compacts that came before, could sit very tall people rather comfortably and the trunk had good capacity.

      It could (and can) come very complete and will the gismos and safety feature one wants. You do have to pay though. It did force the other makers to add luxury and ease of use to their smaller cars and just for that, the Palio will always have a place of honor in Brazilian history.

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        I love it. Nice tall greenhouse (by modern standards), good ground clearance and Derek says it has a soft ride. For a slow driver like me, what’s not to like?

        I’d think I’d be happier with the Brazilian car market than American except possibly for relative prices.

        • 0 avatar

          I think you’d be really unhappy with the relative pricing!

          As to the car, yeah, a pretty big step up from compact Euro and Brazilian cars of the 80s in terms of space, trunk. And a pretty civilized ride quality that would make the most of your style are driving. There are of course quite a few exceptions to that very broad, general statement I just made.

          Thanks for reading!

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            Derp… did I misunderstand who wrote this?

            I hope you did and it was just posted under Derek’s name. Because I’m a huge fan of anyone who finds a “soft, compliant ride” to be worthy of mention and praise.

          • 0 avatar

            Anything soft and compliant is good in my book. :)

            Yeah, I wrote this.

  • avatar
    Pebble

    Neat-O! Bring this to America, Chrysler.

    • 0 avatar
      Beerboy12

      It would have the 1.4l motor and that is a good thing. I agree, bring it here to the US, it would knock the Spark out of the park even though it’s an older design.

  • avatar
    Victor

    And yet curiously I’m tempted to buy one.

  • avatar
    Victor

    Why is my comment awaiting moderation?

  • avatar

    EDIT: the following was supposed to be a reply to Pebble.

    Don’t really think it’d make a dent. The price would probably have to be under 8 thousand dollars for people to even take a look.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Seems not bad; I like the upright styling.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    This looks like the original Palio. The original was Fiat’s first “world car” and a great little car. Fiat beefed up the suspension, built a stronger body and really focused on reliability and that… explains the success.
    This add was popular at the time ;-)

    • 0 avatar
      Beerboy12

      OK search on you tube Fiat Palio cyclist advert, seems like my link was not accepted.

    • 0 avatar

      Agree Beerboy, though it was a little different than that. The Palio was “the other world car” while the Punto was the “First World Car”. Reasons for that were exactly what you mention. The Palio was always more robust, though less refined than the Punto. Its success owes to that plus, at least in Brazil, but I think most everywhere its offered is probably similar. It doesn’t have the best fuel economy, but far from the worst. It’s not the best riding or handling in the segment, but far from the worst. Its not the biggest or roomiest, but far from being excessively small or tight inside. In other words, though rarely at the top of any given category, it was never at the bottom or near the bottom. In other words a really well rounded out car for the segment.

      FWIW, the Palio made it into Europe much sooner than the Punto graced developing nations’ streets. Be it in hatch, sedan, station wagon, pick up form, all were sold in Europe with varying degrees of success (built in Brazil and Argentina mostly, don’t know if the Turkish Palio family made it to Europe). It still is sold in Europe, even Germany and France, in its highly accoladed pick-up form: the Strada.

      • 0 avatar
        Beerboy12

        Hey! Marcelo, my memory is not as effed as I thought, this from Wikipedia ;-)

        I had to double check. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiat_Palio

        Launched in 1996 in Brazil, as part of Fiat’s “Project 178 “, the Palio was Fiat’s first attempt to build a world car, the same basic design being produced in numerous nations around the globe. Four principal models were produced hatchback, sedan, pickup and station wagon, with different versions being built for different markets.

      • 0 avatar
        Beerboy12

        The Palio was developed from the Punto but the Punto was not the world car :-)

        • 0 avatar

          I expressed myself wrong. When I wrote the Punto was the First World Car, what I meant to say is that the Punto was developed with an eye on Europe and was never intended for most parts of the developing world, while the Palio came a little later, building on the Uno (that could be argued was a kind of world car for Fiat) and something from the Punto, with the intention of being sold in other places, but not Europe. Like i said the whole Palio line was sold in Europe, but I don’t know how “serious” was the effort and seems to have been rather incidental (specially comparing to the success the Premio/Duna and Elba had before the Sinea and Palio Weekend).

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