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.
Tata has said that nothing except the smiling grille of the car has been carried over from the old Indica, and we believe them.The front edge begins from a point just outside the registration plate edges and they sweep back over the wheel arch. Looked at head-on, they seem a little too large for the car. The new wipers have dual pivot points for the left blade, to help clean more glass area.
The wheel arches are flared ever so slightly, but even the optional 14-inch rims don't manage to fill them out well enough. The crease running along the door handles is a nice touch, but it is also prone to getting dinged in parking lots if someone opens a door against the car - the rub strip may not save it.The hatch itself feels light to shut, something that women will appreciate, along with the notch at the center of the bottom which you can use to pull the hatch down, instead of getting your hands dirty by holding the outside of the hatch.
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.
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.
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.
There's not much to say about the Fiat powerplant - we simply love the engine! The turbo lag on the Indica Vista isn't too much and the engine cleanly pulls from even low almost -walking speeds even in the second gear. Tata claims to have made some changes in the gear ratios of the Indica Vista Drivetech4.
The Indica Vista has pretty good ride quality and Tata have really managed to get the Indica Vista to ride well without compromising too much on the handling front. The one thing we wished that could have been better on this car was its stability at high speeds, especially during strong cross winds. While we did not encounter this issue while testing the Indica Vista Drivetech4 Safire, the Quadrajet didn't feel very confident above 135kph. This however should not pose to be too much of a problem as it is difficult to drive at such speeds, both, within the city and on the highway, not to mention it would be considered illegal! The steering also disappointed us a little as it felt slightly slack at speeds in excess of 100kph, but then we're putting this down to the extremely wet conditions we drove the car in.
The top-of-the-line Tata Indica Vista Drivetech4 Quadrajet (Aura+) can be yours for Rs 5.51 lakhs (ex-showroom, Mumbai) and considering the space, ride quality, peppy & frugal engine, safety features and low ownership costs that Tata vehicles are renowned for, it can safely be said that it is complete value for money. It's very hard to really fault the new generation of Tata products for their sheer value for money proposition and we believe that the Indica Vista is a great car for those looking for a roomy hatchback (for five tall well-built people) with low purchase and running costs. What turns most people away from the Tata badge is the lack of some quality materials on the inside and the fact that the car's used to depreciate faster than its competitors. We think it's a sensible, no nonsense VFM package with improved reliability and build. Sure it may not excite you, but it'll get the job done without fuss. If you don't use your car much, then the Safire won't be a bad option considering the bells and whistles that come at a very competitive price.