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.