Fiat India has launched the Palio Stile Multijet diesel amidst high expectations.
The Fiat Palio Stile Multijet diesel has hit the market and expectations are already running high. Of the models that emerged out of the 178 platform, the Palio was launched in India in 2001. Well-received and despite the rave reviews in media, the car failed to set the sales charts on fire. A 1.9-litre diesel variant did not help matters much. Sales stuttered until Tata Motors came on the scene in 2006. A lot of water has flown under the bridge since the Palio was launched in 2001. Various reasons are attributed to Fiat's eventful journey in India, its decision to infuse fresh funds, and inking of a broad ranging agreement with Tata Motors. What set off as a marketing arrangement with Tata Motors has now come to a level where the two companies are 51:49 partners and set to jointly manufacture cars, share engines and more. The Palio Stile Multijet diesel is the result of Fiat's long journey in India and its perseverance to stay put. The Palio Stile Multijet diesel is made at Ranjangaon in a dedicated shop. It is in one corner of the seemingly gigantic 8,50,000 sq.m plant that will soon gather the capacity to produce upwards of 200,000 cars and 300,000 engines. A powertrain shop at one corner; a transmission facility adjacent to it; a captive power unit close by; a warehouse next to it and a paint shop, weld shop and final assembly across the road that dissects the plant into two is the general layout of the plant that also includes a training centre. The paint shop is common and, in addition to Palio, would soon be catering to the Tata X1 sedan, Linea and Grande Punto, which would soon go into production. In its second generation, the Palio Multijet, which resulted from Fiat's 178 platform for the emerging markets, is identical to the ones made by Fiat across the globe. Twin-beam lamps that carve into the bumper and separated by a mesh grille sporting the new red logo pen the attractive yet suave stance of the car. The logo, according to Rajiv Kapoor, CEO of Fiat India, "symbolises the dawn of a new era at Fiat". A swept back greenhouse nicely blends with the tailgate that has sparkling lamps on either side and below the windshield. Keeping the connection alive with the earlier model is the side profile of the car with pull-type door handles. Distinguishing this car from the petrol is the Multijet badge on the tailgate. The inside of the car retains the interior of the earlier model. The two-tone colour scheme with beige is new and good ergonomics make it easy to access controls. Seating is comfortable and refinement levels are ensured by sound deadening material and hydraulic engine mounts. Located transversely at front with the drive going to the front wheels through a 5-speed manual gearbox is the 1248 cc, 16-valve DOHC common-rail diesel engine that is enclosed in a one-piece engine block measuring less than 50 cm in length, 65 cm in height and a bore of under 70 mm. The dimensions of this engine make it not just the smallest four-cylinder common rail diesel engine on the market but also the most sophisticated. Marking a departure from the uni-jet common rail engines in two essential parts - the injectors and the electronic control unit - the 1.3 Multijet is a development of the common rail principle applied to first-generation JTD engines, the first of which made an appearance on the Alfa Romeo 156JTD in 1997. The new, 1.3 (second generation) Multijet engine uses more sophisticated injectors and control system (an electronic management unit) to perform more injections during each engine cycle compared to the earlier generation common-rail engines. Developing 1400 bar pressure, combustion is more gradual because pressures and temperatures developed in the combustion chamber are more accurately controlled and better use is made of air taken into the cylinder. Featuring a chain-driven timing system with fingertip control, hydraulic tappets, a cast iron crankcase with an aluminium base and an aluminium cylinder head, the Euro 4 compliant and Euro 5 ready motor generates 75 bhp at 4000 rpm and a maximum torque of 184 Nm at 2000 rpm. Good throw up of torque at low rpm results in superior driveability. It is easy to seek an amicable balance between sporty driving and high levels of frugality. Quite an achievement for a small diesel engine, which according to Mollo, head of Fiat Powertrain facility within the Ranjangaon plant would be manufactured here along with the 1.2 8V, 1.4 8V and 1.4 16V FIRE family petrol engines. Units imported from Italy will power the Palio Multijet till the first engine from the Ranjangaon facility rolls out by the end of April 2008. These are made at the Bielsko-Biala plant at Poland, which is jointly owned by Fiat and General Motors. Interestingly, the same engine has been licensed to many and is seen on the Maruti Swift diesel. Maruti-Suzuki manufactures the 1.3 Multijet at its new plant in Manesar near Delhi. Both, Maruti and the Fiat-Tata combine are said to be aggressively driving localisation for this engine in India. Expected to power the new Indica (X1) under the name of Quadra-jet, the new engine is set to drive a revolution in the Indian small car market. It is also set to bring in a number of world-class suppliers and generate a good business example for the Indian auto sector. Talking of suppliers, it is claimed that ElringKlinger's new facility at Pune would soon start supply of sealing solutions to this engine. Fiat Group supplier Magneti Marelli has already inked three joint ventures in India, all of which are said to be in connection with this engine primarily. One JV is with Suzuki Motor Co and Maruti Suzuki India aimed at the production of electronic control units for diesel engines; the other with Krishna Group through subsidiary Magneti Marelli Sistemi di Scarico S.p.A aimed at the production of exhaust systems; and with Sumi Motherson for the production of automotive components in the area of lighting and engine control systems. With prices starting at Rs 4.37 lakhs ex-showroom Delhi, the Palio Multijet diesel is said to be fairly localised to start with. ASAL India is claimed to supply sheet metal panels and TVS Girling, the braking system. Exide is the supplier of batteries and Goodyear, the tubeless radials. Motherson Sumi Systems is claimed to supply the wiring harness. Magneti Marelli is the supplier of fuel injection system and Asahi India, the supplier of glass. Rear windshield glass is supplied by Pilkington from Brazil. Lakhani Rubber is claimed to be the supplier of radiator hoses and Rane TRW, the seat belts. Magneti Marelli group company, Automotive Lighting is claimed to be the supplier of head and tail lamps. NTF India is the supplier of parcel shelf. Tata Johnson is said to supply the front seats and Vijayjyot, the rear seat. Magneti Marelli is also claimed to be the supplier of exhaust system and the instruments. Minda Huf is claimed to be the supplier of ignition lock, door locks and inside as well as outside door handles. Remsons is said to supply control cables. Hindalco is claimed to be the supplier of alloy wheels and Wheels India, the steel wheels. RSB is claimed to supply the front axles. Ranvik Engineers is said to supply the of wishbones and hinges.