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New Tata Indica Vista review

S.Muralidhar | Updated on: Oct 12, 2011
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The Tata Indica has evolved over the years to become what it is today. The Vista that was born in 2008 was a better car, but the new Indica Vista introduced earlier this year is a big step in the right direction. Compared to the predecessor, the changes to the new one finally arms it to take on the others in the premium hatch category.

The design

The changes to the all new Vista are very evident, though the design is all-together very familiar. It is a classic example of what the right choice of trim can do a car's appeal. Inherently, the design lines are all carry forwards, but within that the changes help the new Indica Vista bloom and suddenly there is a lot of premiumness that radiates from the car.

At the front of the new Vista, the elongated, semi-circular headlamps now feature the same three-barrelled reflector design that the Tata Manza has. In fact, there are more borrowings from the Manza like the chrome-lipped, four-slatted bonnet grille. There are a lot of chrome elements all around, re-confirming that we Indians are still madly in love with this finish. The grille is entirely coated with chrome and there are chrome strips on the front bumper, the door protection rub-strips, on the door handles and surrounding the front fog lamps. At the rear, the most prominent new addition in the Indica Vista is a new black, mirror-polished tailgate garnish at the bottom of the rear glass. An intelligent rear wiper and demister and some minor alterations to the rear bumper are the other changes at the rear.

The shut lines in the new Indica Vista are tight as was the case with the predecessor too. Panel gaps are uniform and well within limits that are found amongst similar cars in the segment. Quality of materials used and the overall finish quality of the features in the new Vista take the exterior appeal to a new level never seen before in an Indica.

The interiors

Step in and you will find the same goes for the interior of the new Indica Vista too. There is sea change in the quality of the interior, with much of the change evident in just the quality of the material used, for example in the dashboard plastic, the plusher seat fabric and the knobs and controls.

Steering mounted audio controls, under seat tray, electrically adjustable door mirrors, height adjustable driver's seat and an illuminated key-hole ring to make it easy to find in the dark are some of the features in the new Indica Vista.

The interior also gets soft-finished dashboard plastic and a new Sahara Beige and Ebony Black dual-tone colour theme. The instrument cluster continues to be centrally located on top of the centre stack on the dash. Previous users will be familiar and possibly even like the location of the dials, but new buyers might take a while to get used to it.

Electric HVAC controls and nicely shaped and bolstered seats were a treat in the new Vista. Rear seat comfort, including the shoulder space and legroom are still excellent compared to many cars in this segment. Safety also gets a leg up in the new Vista with dual front airbags and ABS with EBD being available in the top variants. Keyless entry and an engine immobiliser are the other additions.

The drive

On the road, the new Indica Vista seems to behave with new found confidence. There is no hesitancy or delay in braking and at first the reasons are not apparent as much as the feeling of strength is. The previous Vista also felt like a lumbering hulk, with the power train sounding like it was straining hard to pull the car away quickly. The effect was very similar when you tried to stop in a hurry, with the car lurching and coming to a stop after a nose dive. But this is almost gone in the new Vista.

The change agents here are the larger brake booster and the much improved clutch. Braking performance has clearly improved and the new clutch that keeps the same power trains engaged has contributed significantly to improving the drivability of the new Vista.

More progressive in response, pliant during use and quick to engage, the new clutch in the Vista managed to leave me with a happy left foot. There is still room for improvement though.

I test drove the new Indica Vista Quadrajet, fitted with the same 4-cylinder, common rail diesel engine that is also offered with the Fiat Punto, Suzuki Swift DDiS and a couple of other cars from the three brands.

Developing a peak output of 75 PS and peak torque of 190Nm, this engine, like the other three on offer – the Safire 65 and Safire 90 petrol mills and the other Tata turbocharged intercooled TDI diesel engine – felt the same. All the engines have been carried forward and offer the same intrinsic performance.

The clutch has made the difference and changed the way the new Vista feels to drive. It is clearly more oriented towards its target audience – individual buyers. In cabin noise levels are also lower in the new Vista, though again there is room for further improvement.

Talking about comfort, Tata engineers also seem to have reworked the suspension of the new Vista, making it more pliant and softer. The ride quality is more accommodating over bad roads and there is a lot of that now after the monsoon. The ride is not exactly wallowy, but there is a lot that gets soaked up and only some really big potholes leave the Vista ruffled. However, some of the retuning to the suspension has meant that the driving dynamics have had to be compromised.

I felt a lot of body roll when I tested the new Vista on windy roads, quick overtakes and through tight corners, but it doesn't interfere much during city driving.

The new Indica Vista's claimed fuel efficiency continues to be 22.3 kmpl for the Quadrajet and 19.4 kmpl for the TDI (which is a BS3 version only) and for the petrol engines - Safire65 it is 16.7 kmpl and 13.7 kmpl for the Safire90.

Armed to be as loaded as, yet priced just lower than the Suzuki Swift, the new Tata Indica Vista wants to be seen as the better car. Surely, there is a lot going for it in the car itself. This new version just could be the image changer.

>muraliswami@thehindu.co.in

Published on October 12, 2011
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