Somehow, the automobile was made and is still associated with men. The shapes, colors, styling, engines and tv commercials are all centred around the alpha male.
But a fact goes un-noticed : the power (read contribution) of women to the fancy little things on four wheels is just more than driving.
Carkhana starts a quest to find the “most women friendly cars in India” and with our experienced petrolhead Janhavi in-charge , the hunt gets better by the day.
In the first of this series, we spend a day with the all new Premier Rio Multijet to determine how well it is poised for women drivers and commuters : For a start, Premier calls it the compact SUV…
Excerpts from Janhavi’s day out with the Rio in Pune
Questions in my mind as I start my journey from Mumbai to Pune on rain drenched Monday morning. The beautiful Western Ghats are gearing me up for a ride of this new car, the Premier Rio Multijet.
Gaurav (my friend, camera team for the day and an automotive buff himself) and I are nearing the Premier plant in Chinchwad with anxiousness.
After greeting the team at Premier, who were prompt at giving us the keys at the latest, we step up towards the Silver colored Rio Multijet.
First Impression: It is a neat looking big car. Not the SUV big, but bigger than the norm. Colored in dual tone (metallic silver and black), it catches my eye. Also it has this pleasant feel to it, maybe as it has more space occupied than the hatchbacks we are accustomed to.
The Inside story: The door opens smooth and the interior looks comfy. The high seating makes you feel in command. Although the ignition is placed slightly differently than most cars ( especially petrol ones ), it wont take you time to get a hang of it. As I get comfortable with the insides and place my cell phone in front of the gear knob, I notice the wide view from the windshield. Not just for the view but this helps me with a certain confidence about the judgment of the car’s dimensions.
The music system and the AC switches are fair enough and right there in the center, so pumping up the volume is just a snap away. Outside mirrors have controls inside (helps me not pull the window down)
Seems like a good start and I find this car woman friendly already. Things inside are not too fancy and neither intimidating. The lack of multiple buttons and knobs as in modern hatchbacks actually helps me. Its old school with electronics and better that way.
The glove box is adequate enough to put your car documents, some books , a small ‘dabba’ or a perfume etc.
As I look around I notice that the car is spacious enough. There is good amount of space between the driver and the co-driver seats. The rear seats have good leg room and the rear seats are reclining so my friends or co passengers can enjoy a good nap or adjust them to create extra boot space and accommodate all the never ending stuff we like to carry.
All four windows give a wide and clear view of the outside. The front windows are powered but the rear ones are manual. While it may not work for the younger lot but it surely is going to make all the mothers happy.
Further back, there is good enough boot space on offer. So girls, all your shopping bags, all the groceries ,the gym bag’s, the shoes, your favorite heels and all the change over clothes can be accommodated with ease, leaving space for the occasional football for the guys.
Coming to the smaller issues I found, the driver seat is not height adjustable, a bummer for the shorter amongst us. Also, in order to make it spacious from the inside and compact from the outside the doors are too close to the seats, hence the driver cannot access the side pockets. The news papers or documents or your lip gloss or kajal needs to be placed elsewhere as a result. Also loops to hang your coat or sari might have been nice addition.
Importantly, there are no air bags.
Engine : To be honest, it never bothers me as long as it drives well. It has 72 horses at service (bhp) . For the record, this is a diesel and a good one at that. It does feel apt and has a decent mileage of 15-19 kmpl (city and highway)
On the Run : Sitting with Mr. Yashwant, who is a veteran test driver (and extremely polite) at Premier Motors, I switch on the ignition and as I shift to the very first gear the car gives this sense of the diesel engine-ness accompanied by noise, but it gets smoother gradually. The car has good pick up and the gear knob is not hard which is a real relief.
Amidst the hills of the picturesque Lavasa city, the mud pools and heavy showers, it was only an adventure to shift from first to fifth climbing up and down the hills and accelerating. The car feels gripped to the road even at high speeds.
The suspension is good and keeps you away from jolts and jerks and helps the passengers not swing in turns. Rio comes equipped with an ABS which essentially is good for the monsoon rides.
For city driving, the compactness makes it easy to park and swivel through traffic and the car is India potholes compatible and handles them well. A plus for the car here!!
Exteriors: Firstly, the car comes in only four basic colors (would’ve loved some funky dual tones for sure) . The smart cluster of the head-lights, front grill, is neatly placed on top of the Fog lamp-ed Bumper. A Plush Metallic Shiny body ; Body painted- ORVMs, Door handles and side cladding toss-in style into the RiO.
As we move towards the back can’t help but notice the vertical tail lams that fit just right and the spare wheel with the Premier logo on it. The alloy’s simply add to the definition.
Note : Girls, don’t try loosening the spare wheel unless you have seen/done it before.
Appeal: Ambitious car in its segment, with a steep price range. It offers all the features of a hatchback with a little extra punch of adventure. Premier has a practical car in hand (only a tad cheaper would make it super cool to buy)
Bottomline: This car is a combination of lean and mean. The looks are simple yet the engine does the business.
It stands as a good option for an average Indian woman, easy to drive, park and play around.
Irrespective of what you feel about the other brands of cars, if this solves your purpose, buy it (Make sure you have a Premier Showroom in your town)
[Keep watching this space for the video review]
Janhavi is Carkhana’s chief test driver for “Women on Wheels Initiative”
Reach her at email@example.com
|Overall Length||3970 mm|
|Overall Width||1570 mm|
|Overall Height||1730 mm|
|Ground Clearance||200 mm|
|Engine Capacity||1.3 Litre|
|Max Power||72 bhp|
|Max Torque||183 Nm|
|Fuel Tank Capacity||46 litres|
|Trunk Capacity||454 litres|