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Indica eV2: More than skin deep eVolution

S. Muralidhar | Updated on August 17, 2011

Tata Indica eV2   -  BUSINESS LINE

Tata Indica eV2   -  BUSINESS LINE

Tata Indica eV2   -  BUSINESS LINE

Tata Indica eV2   -  BUSINESS LINE

Tata Indica eV2   -  BUSINESS LINE

Tata Indica eV2   -  BUSINESS LINE

Tata Indica eV2   -  BUSINESS LINE

Tata Indica eV2   -  BUSINESS LINE

The introduction of the Vista contributed significantly towards boosting the image of the Indica brand, making it much more appealing to individual buyers than ever before. The Indica V2, in the meanwhile, was finding it tougher to grab the attention of the family man.

Tata Motors' engineers recognised the need for reworking the equation of the Indica V2, to ensure that it got a bit more comfortable to drive, became more fuel efficient and of course, met the new BS IV emission norms, which the previous version failed to do. It was a good time for the V2's entire packaging to be given a bit of a makeover.

So, the evolution, quite literally too, comes in the form of the Indica eV2. Much of the work for the eV2 is focused on improving the driveability and efficiencies based largely on feedback received by Tata Motors from current owners of the V2.

The profile of these owners indicated that they mostly use the car for long trips or for heavy duty usage, and these included both institutional and individual users, according to Tata Motors. Feedback was mapped to profile the driving habits of these users and the data was then used to tweak the engine to ensure better fuel efficiency – a trait that continues to be the topmost in the minds of most users in this segment.

Inside and out

But first, though Tata engineers didn't change the design of the V2 much, they focused on improving the aerodynamic efficiency of the car and in reducing weight, so that there is an immediate beneficial side-effect in the form of improved mileage.

To improve aerodynamics, the front bumper has been slightly redesigned and the wheel arches have been dumped for a simpler, smoother side profile. The eV2's redesign is said to have been inspired by the European Rover CityRover's design. The new look is meant to improve the stance and appearance, especially the much criticised part about the location of the tyres when compared to the rest of the body.

The other exterior changes include a set of new decals that adorn the door panels, a slightly reworked tail-lamp combination, new set of alloys and front and rear fog lamps. The body shell of the new eV2 is also said to be lighter than the predecessor's.

The interior of the eV2 gets a new shadow beige colour theme and the top (LX) trim gets central locking, front power windows, Bluetooth-enabled music system and wood inserts in the centre console.

New diesel engine

The bigger change in the eV2 is in the new diesel engine. The eV2 gets a new 1,396cc, CR4 common rail diesel engine. While being more frugal and BS IV compliant, the engine also offers big boosts to the power and torque it delivers. The engine, getting its boost from the addition of a turbocharger and an intercooler, now generates a healthy 70 PS of peak power at 4,000 rpm (about 30 per cent over the BS III version) and about 140 Nm of peak torque from as low as 1,800 rpm, which is a 65 per cent increase.

The new engine has retuned to offer ample support for city and highway driving, with most of the focus being on delivering more mileage, which is now claimed to be 24 per cent higher at 25 kmpl (as certified by ARAI). Improvements to the performance and driveability has also been achieved by tweaking the settings to the engine management system to calibrate various functions, based on feedback from an array of sensors such as the engine speed sensor, throttle position sensor and the gear sensor. Changes that the EMS effects are said to include valve timing, compression ratios and pressure volume ratios.

The engine block and piston assembly design has also been changed marginally to improve air intake and circulation of charge for better combustion. The resultant improvement is reflected in the loads of toque available at the low end. Also helping the eV2's slow speed performance are the taller gear ratios in the five-speed manual gearbox. I drove the car mostly in city conditions and the improved driveability is immediately evident, with fewer gear shifts and quicker acceleration in each slot. There is a bit of turbo-lag, but nothing too distracting.

Verdict

But, there are other areas of improvement that could have been considered. The engine is still a bit noisy and a considerable amount of it seeps into the passenger cabin. The clutch is not very progressive and the car still tends to lurch, unless the clutch pedal is held depressed well into the gear change. Some of the other issues that I thought could have been addressed include the fact that the brake pedal and throttle are set too close to each other despite there being considerable real estate in the area. Plastic quality continues to be poorer than in competing cars, and in the absence of seat height adjustment, the eV2's drive position was uncomfortably high.

But, the new eV2 is offered at very attractive price points starting from Rs 3.95 lakh to Rs 4.77 lakh for the CR4 diesel and ranging from Rs 2.95 lakh to Rs 3.58 lakh for the petrol variants (Indica eV2 XETA).

Published on March 23, 2011

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