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An S10 comes home..Badge #73

Discussion in 'Classic and Retro FIAT's' started by Vidhyashankar Kannan, Jul 9, 2015.

  1. Vidhyashankar Kannan

    Vidhyashankar Kannan Regolare

    Avventura 1.3 90 HP
    I thank my well-wishers on this forum for all their advice that led us to bringing home this lost gem of a car. The Fiat Palio S10 – Badge #73. Although I might be repeating what I have said, I thought it fit to pend down this review of a car so rare and forgotten that it deserves a timely reminder of what Fiat has brought to this country only to be sidelined all the time.

    My wife and I are both driving enthusiasts. I love to drive a car that has composure and can handle well at speeds while my wife likes cars that offer her the perfect steering feedback and handling with no compromise on family safety. We went through a very long process of test driving a host of cars before finally purchasing an Avventura. Long story short. The Swift is an excellent car that offers nearly everything but the suspension and handling were a bit lacking. And its thin sheet metal put us off. The i20 Elite which is India’s darling right now offers oodles of trims but just above average handling and a lackluster steering. We felt like we were playing a video game. The petrol version was no fun. And the top end model felt too pricey. We nearly booked the Polo diesel but backed out in the last minute as its rear seats were too small and that nasty hump in the middle was quite uncomfortable for the third middle occupant. We wanted a car for long drives and finally went back to the Punto Evo that offered just what we needed. Great drives, solid safe feeling, telepathic steering and a trusted workhorse of a diesel engine that powers all the Marutis, Tatas, Chevys and Fiats themselves. The Avventura offered the same features but with the highest GC in its class and still retaining its superb driveability with little body roll. It became our first ever new car which unfortunately begs to be driven more.

    Long drives were a cinch and driving suddenly became fun. But we as a family enjoy driving small cars in the city with the occasional highway drives. The Avventura was for those long drives. For our regular daily driving, our 11 year old Maruti Zen MPFI was serving us well but for a family of 5, the power wasn’t enough anymore. And the razor thin metal used to build it didn’t inspire confidence in its safety. Besides, the AC is only about average and in summers, it just wasn’t enough.

    Now the search began for a used car; small, safe, joy-to-drive hatchback for my wife to take around the city and go for occasional long drives. Already owning a Fiat had spoilt us both. It had to be a petrol engine as the diesel’s infamous turbo lag was a no-no. All Marutis were removed from the shortlist as the safety in their hatchbacks is suspect. The Hyundai i10 Grande had all the trims but that was about it. A decent 1.2 engine with average handling and zero steering feedback. Besides, the premium pricing for used pieces was not VFM in any way. Lastly the Nissan Micra. My wife took one test drive (I refused to TD it) and came back unimpressed. For a pricing of 6 lakh for a small hatch, all it offered was good FE with little soul. And used car prices were too high.

    The Fiat Punto was too big for my wife. Besides, the seating position in it hampered her visibility as she is quite short. So we kept quiet for a few months and kept searching for older model cars. The more we searched, the more it became apparent that there are no cars that handle and drive as good as a Fiat. And for once, it would just be nice to have a car that hit the sweet spot in everything while retaining its small form factor.

    Our research led us to the Palio 1.6 series, namely, the GTX and the S10 versions. I reached out to owners of these models and many an individual who has purchased these cars in poor condition and restored them back to glory. The best part was that each and every single owner of the Palio 1.6 kept raving about how good this car was in every single thing that a car is supposed to do. No one had any complaints and people seemed to be having genuine fun driving over all other cars available today and even back then. Besides, when we sat in a 1.2 ELX model, the driving position was spot on for my wife and myself. And the car was smaller than the Punto series but had a good amount of space. My wife loved the handling and steering and braking. Performance was obviously poor as it was a 1.2. But seeing how the enthusiasts were raving about the GTX, we decided to get one on blind faith.

    The search began for a GTX as we are two abnormal Indian citizens who do not follow the game of cricket. We were not overly enthusiastic about a worshipped cricketer’s monogram adorning our car. So the S10 was the last option. But then beggars can’t be choosers. We suddenly understood how difficult it was to get a GTX because if the car was reasonably maintained, people were buying them immediately. This further gave me the faith that there must be something in the GTX to cause it to be lapped up.

    As luck shone on us, an S10 owner in Hyderabad had just purchased the car from the first owner and within 2 months, had to leave India on a long term assignment. As @prabhjot kindly thought of me, he pointed me in the direction of this post for sale. I contacted the owner the very next day after his ad was posted. We sat in the car for the first time and my wife was the first one to drive it. She had a grin that went from ear to ear as she drove around corners, braked hard and pushed the engine in each gear.

    What a car! We booked it immediately and in a few days, brought it home. After driving it around for a few days now in many different modes, this is what I feel. This car was released way too soon for the Indian market. It is possibly the BEST hatchback ever made in India till date. The car is so well put together that it functions like an extra limb of the driver. The steering is slightly heavier but telepathic. The car is a serious corner carver as it doesn’t even blink when thrown around at speeds above 80 km/hr. The seating position is so good that no real adjustments are required. It seems to fit all sizes perfectly. The gearbox is superb.

    Old car replaced with an older car

    A real looker
    Needs just a bit of denting and touchup


    The doors have pockets!

    And power? There is a bucketload of it. It pulls and pulls and pulls for as long as the throttle is held down. And the 3rd gear is so good that it is nearly like an AT car. It works over such a long powerband that one can slot into 3rd and putter around everywhere. On inclines, not even a hiccup. Tap the throttle and it goes smooth.


    A very classy gear knob and lever

    Meaty Steering wheel. Nostalgia

    Talk about legroom. there's so much of it in the front

    And in the rear! Why don't they design such simple cars today?

    But it is the Jekyll-and-Hyde character that shines. Ride it easy and it moves around like a sedan through traffic; well behaved, composed, modest and quiet. On the open road, it is psychotic! Floor that throttle and 100 bucking broncos come out of nowhere. I admit that my 13 year old S10 may not have all the 100 bhp but whatever is there sure makes it worth it. And build quality? It is truly built like a tank. Lifting the bonnet with one hand and then lifting our Zen’s bonnet with one finger felt the same. Amazing quality levels. The trims are average but we really don’t care. The car has racing DNA, performance DNA, handling DNA. That’s all that really matters.

    This is a car that should have sold in hordes. But it didn’t. Because of the golden question “Kitna deta hai”.

    We truly understand what a Fiat is all about. And the GTX is unexplainable. That exhaust note, those racy looks, bold colour and phenomenal racecar performance. And I missed it all these years.

    In all the pride and joy that I have on owning this car, I am truly saddened that Fiat products never got the due recognition they deserved. If just the Fiat badge on the GTX was replaced with a Suzuki or a Hyundai, I am 100% certain it would have sold in lakhs. But the boon in disguise? It is an exclusive product. And we own one.

    The golden question. Which car do we love to drive more? Yes, its the S10. The Avventura glides over roads in all its Fiatian style. But the S10 is a brute with the heart of a young stallion. Its just a lot more fun.
  2. harryaviator

    harryaviator Regolare

    Linea 1.3
    congrats on owning an S10. lucky are those who own one, luckier are those who get to own one, despite not specifically searching for the same.
  3. mchanna

    mchanna Esperto

    Linea T-Jet
    Welcome to the 100bhp yellow club vidhyasagar. The moment it was posted for sale I asked sudipz( who was also looking for the one) to check this and close it ASAP. But by the time he reacted, you acted on it ;)

    Good to see this beauty is with true admirer.

    Wish you happy Miles!!
    kedarbendre likes this.
  4. pabhishek

    pabhishek Esperto

    Linea T-Jet
    What writing buddy!!! Straight from the heart.. Loved every part of it.
    Congratulations for the yellow:)
    Murphy_Fiat likes this.
  5. kedarbendre

    kedarbendre Esperto

    MH 12
    @Vidhyashankar Kannan congratulation for the #S10. I also own Palio S10 and Grande Punto 90HP & I love to drive S10 than 90HP.

    Are you planning to do the denting painting. You can order the missing badges of 100 16V from www.99rpm.com
  6. Anup

    Anup Regolare

    Grande Punto 1.3
    I am with you @Vidhyashankar Kannan.
    I too have my Palio and seriously if you look at the body line or the interior it is seriously the best, infact the only car which come close to the Palio is the Fabia.
    The biggest reason why Palio lost it's value is all thanks to Idiotic Auto mags, Autocar,Overdrive you name it.
    Infact I had spoken to Sirish Chandran from Overdrive(he still wasn't the head at those times) he had only critics to write about and gave his verdict Tata Indica as Swift being the Best at everything except value and that he generously gave it to Indica, I simply asked him 1 question, did he drive the car by himself during the test and he just said a simple "No", so a verdict was given by a guy who never drove the car :rage:
    Anyway even Hormazd Sorabjee was no good, he gave his verdict as because Palio gives less FE, it's a uncool car for India.
    He never responded to my email till date (played it safe) all I asked was "is FE the only criteria of your test"?

    Just wished Fiat starts to make 1.2/1.6 Palio (only 2 variants) with Euro 4 standards and sells it at 5-7 lk budget, for sure there will be takers.
    abhinav_nani likes this.
  7. Vidhyashankar Kannan

    Vidhyashankar Kannan Regolare

    Avventura 1.3 90 HP
    Thank you. Yes, we know how lucky we are and we won't forget it anytime soon. My wife wasn't that keen on a yellow colored car but one drive made her accept everything the way it is :happy:

    Thank you. To be very honest, I have a friend; a hard core Fiatian who told me to drop everything and respond immediately to any such ad as the cars get sold fast. I wasn't sure of this but I believed him anyway and acted quickly. Turns out he was right! But I am sorry that @sudipz missed this one. Wishing him Good luck on finding the best one! I call tell you now that it is worth it.

    Thank you. We are actually taking it out everyday for atleast a small drive.

    Thank you. Yes, I can imagine that you cannot see an S10 with even one dent on it. Neither can we. We will be getting it fixed and painted soon as this car needs to be kept pristine for pride's sake. I have also ordered the badges from 99rpm. I will post an updated photo once everything is fixed. I know how passionate you are about your car. I can understand why now.

    My thoughts exactly! The Palio's body quality is matched only by the Fabia today. And yes, since Fiat doesn't believe in buying favourable reviews, they will keep getting battered in the mags. But it is news to me that Sirish posted a review without even driving the car! If this is true, it is totally unfair. And the FE thing is something which passes on from generation to generation via genetics now. We are hard wired for FE details though most Indians completely forget about it 6 months after ownership.

    I too think that if the Palio is released again now, it will have more takers. But the acid test is the sales of the Punto TJet. Let's see what happens.
  8. mchanna

    mchanna Esperto

    Linea T-Jet
    Whoever says palio has low FE. They should be shot in the their middle of the head.

    1.2 is extremely economic vehicle and returns nothing below 14 in city and 18 on highway.

    1.6 on the other hand gives 11-12 in city and 15-18 on highway. Since this machine is happy revving one, people tend to push it hard and then complain about FE.

    If we do a economy run these mini elephants will match the FE of others easily.

    Here is my cheetah's thirsty report

    Last edited: Jul 10, 2015
  9. kk27

    kk27 Amatore

    Kandivali - Mumbai
    Kandivali - Mumbai
    Fiat Enthusiast
    Wow... truly nice.

    Good to see a classic being saved! Just like I did mine. Infact my wife loves my car more than me, even though she doesn't drive :). I'll tell you...with this car you can drop the panties off any new vehicle on a hill, you name it... i20, verna 1.6, Siwift and yes even the polo tsi. I've dropped them like a bag of stones on Kasara ghat, Such that at a food court I was asked how much BHP does the car have, is it modified. The only problem is, fuel because it's so good to rev the economy goes for a toss..... But I the smile put on your face is a lot more valuable than fuel. :) Enjoy yourself.

    P.S. You know what I answered to the TBHP guy's question. "How much BHP?"
    - "It's stock & has enough to beat any car at will" :p
  10. Vidhyashankar Kannan

    Vidhyashankar Kannan Regolare

    Avventura 1.3 90 HP
    It really doesn't matter. Even if the 1.6 gave 25 kmpl, people would still say its a lie because the mags will not endorse this and people are Fiat averse. So I really don't care about the FE at all. If its above 7 kmpl, I am happy. After all, I get a 100% satisfaction on performance, steering, handling, braking, safety, GC, quality, legroom and pride. The FE just becomes a thorn in the issue; something to feel dissatisfied about. FE is a mindset when you get a car like this. What people don't realise is that marginal increase in fuel bills (unless one does 50 km per day) is not even worth thinking about than all the satisfaction of this car.

    Thank you @kk27. You do know that the person who convinced me on the S10's ability is our common friend in Mumbai :rolleyes:

    And unlike your case, my wife and I are now fighting over who gets to drive the S10 when we go out. Most of the times, she wins as its her car. :depressed:. But then, we have mutually agreed to take turns. Of late, she has given me the keys as she sees a "boy after a toy" in me. She anyway gets to drive it when I am in office. And by jove! you are so right. This car mops the floor with every other India's darling. The Verna is not even considered because you see, in any road, there is a thing called a "turn" where the road goes to the left or the right. And the Verna's cornering is like a freighter. The S10 will still be at the same speed while the Verna has to slow down. I cannot comment on the Polo though because it has pretty good handling. But if you've done it, then I wholly believe you. I have thrown the S10 around and it holds. The FE doesn't matter when you're having this much fun. In fact, I haven't even bothered to check the FE. When the tanks shows "E", I fill it up! And drive.
    Naughty, kk27, prabhjot and 2 others like this.

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