Launched in 1996 in Brazil, as part of Fiat's "178 project", the Palio was Fiat's first attempt to build a world car, the same basic design being produced in numerous nations around the globe. Four principal models were produced, a hatchback, sedan / saloon, pickup and station wagon / estate, different versions being built in different countries. The powerplants, both diesel and petrol, also varied from region to region depending on local production capability, legislation and market requirements.
The basic chassis was a development of the Fiat Uno, but little remained unchanged. The entire structure was significantly stronger in order to be suitable on the rougher roads found in some of the markets for which it was intended, as was the suspension. The body was a completely new design by the I.DE.A Institute of Turin, who also designed the new interior.
Production began in 1996 in Brazil and was followed later that year by a plant in Argentina. 1997 saw production starting in Venezuela, Poland and Morocco whilst Turkey started building the same car in 1998. India and South Africa began production in 1999, Egypt in 2001 and China in 2002.