The Tata Indica has no doubt shaped the Indian car market by being a product with many firsts. It was the first Indian car to have AC and power windows as standard, features which were found only on sedans. The Indica has made the common man consider cars as it was the only hatchback in its hay days to feature a diesel engine, thereby making sense in running costs. Now 15-years down the line, Tata Motors continues to sell the same Indica, which has been updated several times. What doesn’t change though is the shape. The Tata Indica has evolved but it’s no Porsche 911 that it won’t look dated. The Indica even with frequent make ups has started to show its age. However the Indian automobile giant continues to sell it by calling it the “new Indica” every time it facelifts it. Does the Tata Indica make sense when you can get more modern vehicles at this price? We take a quick spin to answer that very question.
EXTERIOR AND LOOKS
The Indica is not a car which will win hearts for its looks. The Italians who are normally well known for the things they design didn’t seem to have done justice with this hatch. It looks very dated and bland. The design has not seen any substantial change since the time it was launched in 1998.One thing that we surely want Tata Motors to do is a complete makeover instead of just changing a few bits. So what differentiates this Indica from the earlier models? The Spanish Tan is a new addition which indeed looks better if not the best. The radiator grille has a bright coated finish which looks contrasting with the new shade The front face has been retained from the earlier generation models. The headlight assembly has turn indicators in them. The side profile is unmistakably same. Nothing has been changed in 15 years which doesn’t go in Indica’s favor. The ORVMs are equipped with turn indicators in them but then it is not a modern touch as many other models have it.The rear profile gets re-touched tail lamps and a subtle chrome garnish on the tail gate. The exterior profile fails to create any enthusiasm and looks very dated.
INTERIOR AND CABIN
The interior of Tata Indica eV2 is tastefully done and definitely impresses even in a cursory glance. Unlike other hatchbacks, it is loaded with some incredible features. The rack and pinion type steering wheel has four spokes and the instrument panel is very chic. Adding to passenger convenience are features like reading lamps, a cabin lamp that is operatable from all four doors, a lamp in the boot, a utility tray with a coin holder and a parcel shelf. The horn pad for the steering wheel, moulded roof lining, internal antenna and the door trims are other likeable features of this hatch. The dashboard is the same heritage Indica type and the music system is also the unchanged one with bluetooth connectivity and an aux-in port.
Tata Indica eV2 can accommodate five passengers and the comfortable seating is lined with soft fabric. The Air Conditioning unit is very effective and makes the ride very comfortable. The electronic instrument cluster has a digital odometer, 2 trip meters with light intensity control, a tachometer and a digital clock. The painted floor Console comes with the provision for Mobile Charger / Cigarette Lighter. The boot space of 220 L is adequate and adds to the convenience value of this car. The headroom offered is quite significant with 960 mm in the front and 940 mm at the rear. Legroom available ranges from 915 mm to 1080 mm; and the knee room available ranges between 640 mm and 750 mm. Taller passengers need not worry as India offers a generous shoulder room of 1335 mm.
ENGINE AND PERFORMANCE
The Tata Indica has two diesel engines, petrol and also a LPG version of the petrol motor. The 1.2-litre petrol develops 65PS@5200 rpm with a peak torque of 100Nm@2600rpm. 100kmph is reached in under 17seconds with a top speed of 155kmph and an ARAI claimed fuel efficiency of 16.54kmpl. Despite the mediocre performance the engine feels strong enough on the highway and with decent drivability in urban conditions. Mid range power delivery is good but the engine starts to show its weakness over 4000rpm.
The 1.4-litre diesel engine produces 54PS@5500rpm and 85PS@2250rpm. Refinement is poor and it delivers 17.88kmpl as claimed by ARAI. The 1.3-litre common rail diesel engine is sourced from Fiat and develops70PS@4000rpm and 140Nm between1800 to 3000rpm. This engine feels far more refined but isn’t as quick as on the Maruti Suzuki Swift. All engines use a five speed manual gearbox which feels rubbery and offers a vague response.
HANDLING AND SAFETY
In the city, there is no lack of poke. The Indica trundles through the traffic in third at 1500 rpm without a fuss. Downshifts are no longer a bother as the gearshift quality has been upped with each version of the Indica. The gearshift feels smooth, though some of the sogginess remains. Sudden overtaking manoeuvres can also be attempted and executed with gusto. However, the handling remains wishy-washy; the rear slides out at the hint of a slalom style manoeuvre and the steering does little to inspire confidence in pushing the car hard. The steering is well damped at low speeds, but lacks feedback and remains a little sluggish at high speeds. Tata Motors’ attempted part remedy for the weak-kneed handling are lower profile 165/60 R13 Goodyear GPS2’s. The low-profile tyres limit the car’s rolling tendency by a certain degree. The Airbags and ABS are now available in the Aura + segment of cars. The only thing that the Indica misses dearly are the alloy wheels.
As can be seen, not much has changed and the Tata Indica continues to soldier on in the same manner as it used to last year. Tata Motors has recovered the development and fixed costs) of the Indica long time back so it makes a lot of financial sense to keep the car going in its current form. Sure the Indica makes a lot of sense for taxi operators with its generous cabin, attractive price and high fuel economy. But if the company wants to lure private buyers, the Indica needs a bigger update, a more substantial one which will help it stand strong in front of more established and better engineered products.
Tata Indica Ex Showroom Price in New Delhi ranges from 4,99,410/- (Indica LS BS IV) to 5,46,849/- (Indica LX BS IV) .Tata Indica has 2 Variants of Diesel are available in India. Tata Indica comes in 4 colours, namely Spanish Tan,Jet Silver,Porcelain White,Sea Blue.