Select Your City

for best experience

Road Test: Tata Indigo CS [2008-2011]

CarWale Team, 25-Nov-2008. Car Tested: Indigo CS [2008-2011], Version: LS DiCOR
265 Views

Introduction

Indigo CS is the cheapest sedan in the world.

Introduction

Once upon a time, there were two distinct segments: the lowly hatchbacks and the high-and-mighty sedans. If you had arrived in life, four wheels alone wouldn't do the trick. You needed a boot to show the world that you were ahead of the game. Of course, since then the Indian car market and owners have grown up. We've got hatchbacks worth more than Rs 8 lakh now! That doesn't stop us from giving sedans respect, so how about a cheap entry-level sedan that slots in between a hatch and a ‘propah’ sedan? No one thought of that one, until the Tatas did.

Exterior

New silhouette so much better than regular Indigo's.

Exterior

The second styling update since the CityRover nosejob that was made across the Indica/Indigo range in 2004 means the CS's front end has a fairly pleasant look to it. The mirrors have chrome strips that liven up their look. The profile is identical to the Indigo's, but differs from it when you reach the rear end. The truncated posterior isn't bulbous like the Indigo; in fact, there's a sense of balance that the Indigo cannot carry off. The redesigned tail-lamp cluster looks so much better than the Indigo's oversize units. This is a good-looking car. However, traditional Tata trademarks like large panel gaps remain. One must also remember that Tata was able to squeeze in a boot just under the regulation size of  four metres to qualify for an excise cut and pass on the attractive price to the consumer.

Interior, Comfort

Lots of space, but quality can be improved.

Interior

The interior of the CS has swathes of grey, livened up a little by, er, different shades of grey and a fake aluminium centre console. The sea of grey makes the cabin look a bit smaller than it really is. But the grey interior is only found on the diesel variants since the petrols have a beige interior.The passengers will have no cause for complaint with the space on offer, but the driver will not agree. The steering wheel is slightly too large and at too van/truck-like an angle for comfort, the pedals are placed awkwardly and the gear shift lever is too short. If you're a tall driver, you're caught between making space for your legs so that your ankles don't hurt on long drives, and keeping your arms at a comfortable angle so that you don't have to stretch to the steering wheel and shift lever. The switches for the power windows are also placed in an awkward position, ahead of the shift lever at its base. The seats are supremely comfortable though and have the right amount of bolster for long distance travel. The rear seat comfort on the Indica / Indigo range is still hard to beat.        

The plastics are shiny and hard-wearing, and we wish they were at least a few soft-touch bits at points of contact. The fit and finish of the plastic could have been so much better with a little attention to detail and panel fit, but at the price, we don't think one should be complaining. The space on offer is really very good for the size of the car, with good legroom and headroom for the occupants. There aren't enough places to keep things like change, phones and wallets. The front door pockets are wide, but they won't hold large bottles. The rear doors don't have pockets, but they house ashtrays. The boot is not much larger than a hatchback's, and the usable space is intruded upon by the suspension's strut towers. Some of the stalks and plastic bits feel worse than some of the older Indicas now and we wish that Tata could get the plastics quality spot-on once and for all.

Engine, Drivetrain, Fuel efficiency

The common-rail engine makes the CS a sprightly performer.

Engine

The 1396cc common-rail turbodiesel generates 70bhp@4000rpm and 140Nm@1800rpm. There is not much turbo lag thanks to the variable geometry turbo, and our test figures surprised us, with the Indigo matching the Fiesta diesel second for second in most areas. The torque is spread thicker than the pile of a monarch’s carpet, but the power dies off quite suddenly beyond 4000rpm. It is a little slow-witted below 1800rpm despite the high-tech turbo, but it pulls without complaint. This car is extremely drivable. However, what it isn’t, is refined. The engine makes a lot of noise both inside and outside the cabin, and sounds quite unhappy near the redline. There’s also a fair bit of cabin boom that does manage to filter in, so NVH is something that needs some working on.

Fuel Economy

The lack of weight and generous spread of torque from the variable-geometry turbo helped keep engine revs low and fuel efficiency high in the CS DiCOR. A city figure of 12.8kpl mated to a highway figure of 17.9kpl meant a respectable overall figure of 14.1kpl. Hard driving doesn't seem to faze the fuel consumption: our antics during testing managed to give us returns to the tune of 10.2kpl.

 

 

Ride & Handling, Steering

The CS has lots of grip, but is nervous at high speed.

Ride and handling

Tata cars have had good ride, especially since the suspension was revised in 2004. The CS is no exception. It rides really very well in the city, absorbing all but the biggest bumps and potholes without transmitting shocks into the cabin. The suspension does transmit a fair bit of noise to the occupants. Handling has been sacrificed at the altar of ride quality, but it fits the car’s target market. The car grips well enough, but it isn’t confidence-inspiring in corners, what with the body roll and numb steering. The steering is numb, and not as accurate as we would’ve liked. Ground clearance isn’t an issue with this car. One peculiar thing is that the car does get affected by crosswinds or sudden gusts if you overtake someone at relatively high speed – 140kmph +. You can almost feel the rear want to step out of line and this may have something to do with the aerodynamics thanks to the stubby new rear end and not the suspension setup.

Braking, Tyres, Safety

ABS isn't even an option.

Braking, Tyres, Safety

The brakes are powerful, but it’s hard to use them effectively when there isn’t much feel through them. There is resistance through the pedal, but it doesn’t progress well. The initial bite is quite soft, but a few days of driving around will get you acclimatised. The positioning of the pedal also leads to discomfort. The CS runs on 175/65 R14 Apollo Amazer XL tyres. They give up on grip quite early. They run fairly silent at speed, and give the suspension a big helping hand in providing that good ride quality. There is no ABS or airbags, even as options. This is probably in the interest of keeping costs down.

Cost, Overall evaluation

The cheapest sedan in the world is probably one of the most VFM ones in the world as well.

Cost

Less than Rs 5 lakh will get you the world’s cheapest sedan, which will be cheap to run as it drinks the sticky stuff – AND it will be cheap to maintain, it being a Tata product! There aren’t any rivals to compare it to, and we’re sure the rivals are ruing that fact.

Overall

The CS is for those who’d like a sedan without having to pay the premium for it. It takes really good advantage of the government’s excise cuts on small cars, and yet offers a lot of space inside for the money. It even looks good and performs well! We wish quality, especially on the inside, was better, though.

Exciting touches

  • Engine now has variable geometry turbo and common-rail direct injection

Painful touches

  • Hard, shiny plastics on the inside

Test Data

Engine Specifications

1396cc, four cylinders in line, common-rail turbodiesel, 70bhp@4000rpm, 140Nm@1800rpm. View specifications

Speedo Error

Speedo Reading (kph) Actual Speed (kph)
40  37.1
60  56.6
80  76.4
100  96.5
120  115.7
140  134.8

Max in Gear

Gear Speed (kph)
1st  37.1
2nd  69.3
3rd  105.6
4th  148.6
5th  167.2
6th   ----

Performance Test Data

Top Speed 167.2kph*
0-60kph  6.2sec
0-100kph  17.5sec
Quarter Mile (402m)  20.9sec
Braking 80-0kph  35.1m/3.43sec
30-50kph in 3rd  5.5sec
30-50kph in 4th  11.4sec
50-70kph in 5th  13.2sec

Fuel Efficiency

  City Highway Overall Worst
Mileage (kpl)  12.8 17.9
14.1
10.2^

*Achieved ^During testing.

Quick Research

Ask the Experts

1800 2090 230

(Toll free)