With the Gypsy gone and the Bolero Crde being priced on the steeper side, the market for sub 7-lakh SUVs is a huge vacant space. Suzuki could have launched the Jimny to fill this void with the same 1.3 liter multijet engine doing duty on the diesel Swift, D-Zire, Indica Vista, Fiat Palio, Linea, Grande Punto, etc, but they haven't.
And suddenly you have Premier Automobiles, a company that is faded from our collective memory, launching just the thing: a sub-7-lakh diesel SUV with the same old Peugeot IDI engine that was used in the 309 GLD. Apparently they were always there and didn't die out. All these days they had a strategic collaboration with Tata Motors to provide specialized engineering services.
Here's an image of the Premier Rio. Cute, small, lovable, and an SUV for the common man. An IDI engine means you have to wait for a glow plug to go off before ignition. The car is a small Daihatsu, made by Zoyte Motors of China, with the legacy French mill that can well be called Indian now. In an age where multijet diesels are ruling the market, launching an IDI engine from the prehistoric era may sound a strategic blunder, but if you look at the price tag, you know who the Rio is targeting. All the auto mags this month are carrying stories about the Rio, so we have to wait and watch where this story heads.
Am sure other auto majors are gonna wait and watch this story like us, and I won't be surprised if this attempt at resurgence by PAL is sabotaged by other companies. What we would want is a healthy competition from Suzuki with the Jimny 4x4, which has a better finish anyday. Maybe Mahindra will launch the Classic in a compact avatar again (think Jeep Wrangler Sahara) and price it at that band? The choice of engine will have to be the 2500 cc, 97 bhp engine from the Bolero Crde.
(Jeep Wrangler Sahara)
And that would give prospective buyers of the Skoda Yeti (to be priced at 12 lakhs on road) a chance to think twice. And the Yeti will die a slow death like the Fabia even before it is born.
Way to go, Premier.