The National Engine of India: Fiat 1.3 MultiJet
The Next Installment in my series – Automobiles That Drove India: The Fiat-sourced 1.3 Liter MultiJet diesel motor powered India for decades and got many Indians on the road.
The fourth instalment of the series- Automobiles That Drove India, isn’t about a car, SUV or bike that changed the whole scene of the industry or topped the sales chart – but this time, it is an engine that served the Indian consumers for more than a decade in various forms and size of cars.
Fiat as a brand didn’t manage to hold its own in the past few years and if I am being honest, apart from a few models Fiat Cars were never a sales behemoth. Sadly, Fiat had to shut its shop in India although Fiat as a company does operate in the form of the Jeep Brand- one of Stellantis’s sub-brands but not the Fiat brand itself. This is a shame, they used to sell one of the best hatchbacks in the nation at the time.
The National Engine
But amidst the arduous relationship between India and FIAT, one thing Prevailed-The 1.3 Litre MultiJet, which served 20 plus cars ranging from five different brands. And rightfully so, it was termed as the ‘National Engine Of India’.
This engine was shared by a lot of brands and many of those models that came equipped with the 1.3 MultiJet went onto the top sales chart and some turned into cult classics. Apart from Fia, Brands like Suzuki, Tata, Chevrolet and Premier used the 1.3 Engine in their cars. Suzuki Called it the DDiS and Tata called it Quadra Jet.
Some notable cars that came with the 1.3 Multi Jet engine are:
• Suzuki Swift
• Suzuki Vitara Brezza
• Fiat Linea
• Suzuki Ertiga
• Fiat Punto
• Tata Bolt
• Chevrolet Sail
• Suzuki Baleno
• Premier Rio
• Suzuki Ritz
One thing is clear Maruti Suzuki extracted everything they could from the Fiat 1.3 MultiJet since it was introduced in the late 2000s. And, clearly, the consumers loved the cars this engine came with which made it such a success in the Indian Market.
What Made this Engine become a hit in India?
Firstly, we have to remember it was Fiat that took the initial step into developing a diesel engine technology that we all know and love today, The CRDi – Common Rail Diesel Engine technology was all but pioneered by the minds at Fiat and later on perfected by Bosch for Mass Production.
Diesel Engines were known for their rattly nature due to the need for high pressure needed to inject fuel inside the chambers for the actual combustion to happen, which made them loud and vibey. What Fiat did to solve this issue was to add a very high-pressure fuel injection system that injects fuel multiple times for every power stroke, and then add a turbocharger to produce torque figures unlike any petrol engine with similar capacity all while being extremely efficient and frugal.
The Fiat’s 1.3 MultiJet employs the very same technology in a four-cylinder configuration-Which comes in two different states of tune and Turbocharge configuration, one produced 74 bhp and 190nm of torque with a fixed geometry turbo and the other a more powerful version that used a variable geometry turbocharger producing 90hp and 200nm of torque. The 75hp version also won 2005 The International Engine of The Year in 1.4-liter category.
As much as the credit goes to Fiat for engineering an engine that was loved and appreciated by many in so many different forms – The engine wouldn’t have been this successful if it wasn’t for Suzuki and not because Suzuki threw that engine in almost every model they made and was a sure shot success – but because it was Suzuki who took the plunge in mass producing the engine for the Indian market and because the engine was fairly high-tech due to its high-pressure fuel injections and turbocharger exporting them from outside was going to be expensive to sell and later on to maintain and provide the service Suzuki became known for – So, Suzuki invested heavily in localization of the engine bringing in partnerships from various vendors and manufacturers such as Bosch and later on with Fiat that got the engine into Suzuki Swift in 2007 that became an instant hit among general consumers and enthusiasts alike.
Speaking of Enthusiasts, when this engine came onto the market a lot of enthusiasts loved it due to the tune Suzuki opted for which made the engine feel peaky and lively – this sporty nature opened the room for various Tuning packages from multiple tuning shops.
Certainly, one of the biggest reasons for this engine’s success was its reliability – the engine despite being equipped with high-pressure fuel injectors and a fairly complicated setup of the turbocharger, the engine was reliable and very economical to maintain and live with. And let’s not forget the biggest thing we Indians loves over anything – Fuel Economy the engine was frugal and topped that torque with a small and lightweight car, making them fly on the Indian roads.
Whether most buyers knew or not that the engine in their car was shared by other 23 car models from 5 different car brands – one thing was certain Indians approved the 1.3 MultiJet for Indian roads and up until 2020 almost 50% of the diesel cars that were sold in the country were with 1.3 Multi Jet engine, speaks volumes about the success of this engine in India.
Sadly, nothing stays constant – and, unfortunately after producing more than 8,00,000 engines in more than a decade – Fiat Decided to end production in the year 2020 when the BS6 norms came into effect which forced this legendary 1.3 MultiJet engine into retirement- which didn’t comply with the new norms and Fiat exclaimed they had no intentions to put in the effort to make it compatible with BS6 norms.
Not many owners realize that the Diesel car they are driving has an engine that holds such a significance in the Automobile History of the nation. Hey! Even I didn’t up until I got to drive the Suzuki Ritz DDiS that came with the same engine and let me tell you it’s amazing and I wrote a article about it, you can check it out here https://thecorneaimpression.com/suzuki-ritz-the-diesel-and-the-turbo/
Other Articles in this series
The Legend of the Fortuner
The Torch Bearer of Sub Compact SUVs
The Forgotten Middle Class Hero