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Road Test: Tata Indica Vista

CarWale Team, 25-May-2010. Car Tested: Indica Vista, Version: Aura + Safire BS-IV
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Slow and Steady...

Tata Motors have been advertising rather heavily for their ‘freshened’ up Indica Vista over the last few weeks and have been asking everyone to go and surprise themselves on their website in a fun interactive manner so people can understand what all has been changed or modified.  The Drivetech site didn’t really tell us how much of a change the Indica Vista has really undergone; apart from the major by-pass surgery in the form of a engine tweak (to meet the Bharat Stage-IV compliance) and a much better gearbox. And before we forget (since it’s not immediately noticeable to most), it’s also had a slight cosmetic update and is now known as the Indica Vista Drivetech4.

The Indica (including the first generation car) has always had a lot of good things going for it. To start with, it’s had lots of interior space, a very comfortable (if a little upright) seating position, great legroom both front and rear and excellent ingress & egress. The Vista added to this list much better powertrain, ride and handling which were miles ahead of the old car and much better levels of fit & finish (and features!) to the basic recipe. The new Indica Vista Drivetech4 looks similar, on the outside, like just another Indica Vista. It’s on the inside where things have changed for the better. The Drivetech4 has now got a few touches from its elder sibling, the Indigo Manza. There’s a new steering wheel, a new audio system with Bluetooth connectivity and of course now the Indica Vista Drivetech4 has the airbags and ABS added to its list making it a safer hatchback. Both the power trains; SAFIRE(petrol) and Quadrajet(diesel) have been worked upon to meet the recently enforced Bharat Stage-IV norms.

Get into the Indica Vista Drivetech4 and sit on the comfy seats (front seats have excellent lumbar support) and you’ll find lots of available space. You’ll also find that the driver’s seat is now height adjustable and this will no doubt, make it easier for shorter drivers to find a near perfect driving position. (No doubt, the adjustable steering also helps here!). The beige colour interiors, the matte-chrome centre console and the steering wheel in general remind us of the larger Indigo Manza. Of course, the Indica still retains the instrument cluster in the centre. The beige dash however, tends to reflect on the windscreen in harsh sunlight and it can be distracting whilst driving. Tata has moved up a notch in its fit and finish, but there is still plenty of room for improvement. On our press demonstrator, there was a colour mismatch on the door lock plastics, the gap between the dash panels (instrument cluster in particular) and the switches and the indicator and wiper stalks are very hard and not as well finished as one would expect in this day and age of plastics technology.

Slow and Steady... (contd..)

Start the engine and hardly any sound filters into the cabin at idle. The Indica Vista Drivetech4 Safire has a Fiat sourced 1172cc engine under its bonnet, which is a four-pot, SOHC (8-valve) engine that produces a just-about-adequate power of 64bhp and a maximum torque of 96Nm. Shift into the first gear and floor the accelerator (which incidentally is drive-by-wire) and the engine will rev & scream in a nice way and you might think that you’re going to be the next drag strip star. The reality is that the car would have just about inched ahead and even the slowest thing that you can find on the road has overtaken you in a guffaw. Forward momentum is quite lethargic. We did wish that the car had a 16Valve head that would have made the car so much more drivable. The Indica Vista Drivetech4 SAFIRE took a slightly sleepy 18.7 seconds to reach 100kph in our acceleration run and 20.9 seconds to do the quarter mile. Somehow, even on smooth acceleration the car jerks even though the hatch sports a drive-by-wire throttle (basically a potentiometer based system) and even at steady revs the car sometimes jerks badly. We’re trying to find out why this happens, so do watch this space.

The biggest leap forward (apart from powertrain) for the Indica Vista at its time of launch was the composed ride quality at low and high speeds without compromising too much on the handling front. It was a big step forward for Tata Motors in this department and thankfully the underpinnings on the Indica Vista haven’t been touched and the Drivetech4 still comes with struts at the front and twist beam at the rear. The gearbox also now feels much improved with shifts being more positive and a lot smoother than before. In our in-gear tests the car clocked the 30-50kph run in 5.9 seconds in third gear and 8.1 seconds in fourth gear. The 50-70kph run in fifth was achieved in 13.1 seconds.

We also managed to get a fairly decent overall economy figure of 12.9kpl and this did include some fairly trafficked stretches and some spirited driving which we attempted. The Drivetech4 is definitely a step forward for the Indica brand and with the features it offers at a value price coupled with the fantastic interior space, it really stays quite core to the Indica’s brand values.There’s no doubt that the car will have a fair share of customers who want the space and comfort without really caring too much about how powerful or quick the car is. However what would have made the car just that much better, would have been a slightly peppier engine and slightly improved interior fit and finish. Let’s hope there’s a Drivetech5 around the corner. But for now, we guess the mantra for the day is slow and steady. The question is, will it win the race?

 

Test Data

Engine Specifications

 1172cc petrol engine, 64bhp, 96Nm View specifications

Speedo Error

Speedo Reading (kph) Actual Speed (kph)
40  37.9
60  58.1
80  78.9
100  97.9
120  118.2
140  

Max in Gear

Gear Speed (kph@rpm)
1st  42.1@6500
2nd  81.2@6500
3rd  120.2@6500
4th  151@6500
5th  158.1@5900
6th -

Performance Test Data

Top Speed 158.1kph
0-60kph  7.2secs
0-100kph  18.7secs
Quarter Mile (402m)  20.9secs
Braking 80-0kph  29.2m
30-50kph in 3rd  5.9secs
30-50kph in 4th  8.1secs
50-70kph in 5th  13.1secs

Fuel Efficiency

  City Highway Overall Worst
Mileage (kpl)      12.9  10.3

 

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