When it was launched in 1998, the Indica was billed as a peoples car for Indians by Indians and the response it got was almost euphoric. Over the years, the Indica went through several revisions and became more refined in every way. But nothing could have prepared us for this. Ten years down the line, Tata is all set to replicate the original Indicas success with the new Indica Vista.
The Vista retains a visual resemblance to the old Indica; the design is more evolutionary than revolutionary. The massive headlights are the first thing that you notice along with the new smiling grille, an Indica trademark.
The rear of the car is where you could have difficulty telling the new car from the old one. But the rest of the car looks completely different and, on the whole, is well-proportioned, except the tyres which look too thin for the cars size. The design uses creases running along the bonnet, the sides and the rear hatch to good effect, making the Vista look beefy without any excess flab.
The interior is the big surprise here and is miles ahead of the older car. Space levels are comparable to cars that fall into higher price brackets. The legroom at the front is very good and the front seats, now adjustable for height, are large and comfortable.
Combined with the height-adjustable steering wheel, it makes finding a comfortable driving position quite easy even for tall drivers. The rear seat is the best in its segment and offers sofa-like comfort with just the right amount of firmness.
The quality on the inside too has hugely improved over the older car. The quality of materials and the fit-and-finish deliver a feel-good factor that the earlier Indica couldnt. The cabin looks bright and airy and all controls fall to hand easily. The instrument panel is centrally-mounted like the Nanos and along with the low base of the windscreen, makes for good visibility.
UNDER THE HOOD
On the move, the cabin is silent and there is little vibration which is most unlike a Tata. This is because of the Vistas Italian heart in the form of Fiats brilliant 1.3 Multi-Jet engine, which Maruti uses under the DDiS moniker.
Tata calls it the Quadrajet, and in the Vista, the engine makes more torque at lower engine speeds and feels responsive and tractable in city traffic. The clutch is light and the gearshift, though it requires some effort to operate, works well. The Vista is a good highway cruiser though its not the fastest diesel hatchback around. 100kph comes up in 16.4 seconds from rest and top speed is a decent 151kph near which the Vista can cruise all day.
The suspension is tuned more for comfort as a result of which the Vista possesses terrific ride quality. The Vista is composed on roads that would unsettle other hatchbacks. Its only sharp or steep-edged bumps that catch the suspension out. Otherwise, it soaks up bumps impressively and moves in a composed and cohesive manner. However, the narrow tyres and high suspension mean that the car rolls a lot in corners and is far from happy when its being hustled around.
The steering, though light, has a vagueness that doesnt encourage spirited driv ing. The brakes are confidence-inspiring, but there is no ABS and on the narrow tyres absolute stopping distances are not that impressive.
The Quadrajet engine combined with the short gearing mean that the Vista returns around 13kpl-14kpl in the city. On the highway, the Vista returned around 17kpl.
With the Vista, Tata has clearly taken the Indica to the next level as far as building a modern and thoroughly engineered hatchback is concerned. While there are little things that still need attention, Tata has combined Fiats excellent engine with a good-looking design that is well-executed.
The new-found quality is sure to find many new takers who earlier shied away from the Indica due to the absence of the feel-good factor. With the Vista Quadrajet priced from Rs 5.06 lakh for the Aqua version to Rs 5.36 lakh for the Aura version, the Vista is truly a lot of car for the money.
Tata Indica Vista
Turning circle: 10.0m
Kerb weight: 1140kg
Engine: 4 cyls in-line, 1248cc, common-rail, turbo-diesel
Installation: Front, transverse
Power: 74bhp at 4000rpm
Torque: 19.37kgm at 1750-3000rpm
Gearbox: 5-speed manual
Fuel tank: 37 litres
Brakes (F/R): 240mm ventilated discs/200mm drums
Tyre size: 175/65 R14, tubeless Goodyear GT3
Price: 5.06 lakh for Aqua version, 5.36 lakh for Aura version