Read it -- Tata Vista. The Indica badge at the car’s rear has shrunk. So has its Indica-ness. The car’s first major makeover in three years is Tata’s clear attempt to get deep into the premium hatchback segment and make it a popular choice among those who hesitate to proudly say, ‘I drive a Tata Indica’.
The new Vista shares its front fascia with its elder sibling Manza. The chrome grille and larger triple barreled head lamps make its face more belligerent – and upmarket. The chrome lines that extend to the C-Pillar don’t go all the way to the rear. Instead, there’s a mirror-polished black garnishing below the rear windshield; a chrome variant of the same would have looked better there.
The interior is where the new Vista makes the real difference. Available in four trims, the car offers integrated six-speaker music system with steering-mounted audio controls, USB support and Bluetooth connectivity on all but the base variant. Steering-mounted controls on the lower variants – isn’t that a revolution in this segment? Indica has always been a leader in interior space and seating comfort. The Vista’s seats cocoon passengers with comfortable head, thigh and lumbar support. Besides, the new edition offers tiltable steering wheels and height-adjustable driver’s seat on the higher variants. The overall quality of the dual-tone dashboard has improved although the plastic is not yet up to the mark. The instrument panel stays at the centre – whether this distracts the driver or not is open to argument.
Don’t panic when you turn the key and the car is unresponsive. It’s a new feature called Clutch-to-Start, which means you cannot crank the engine unless the clutch is fully depressed; hence there is no risk of re-cranking if engine is already running. (Mind you, cranking a running engine might eventually damage both the starter and flywheel). This new feature appears desirable in a fairly hushed cabin compared to the forerunner – looks like much burning of midnight oil has gone into reducing cabin noise and tuning various suspension components to improve ride comfort, refinement and road-holding. Front Macpherson struts with gas dampers mounted on sub-frame and rear Twist Beam suspension plant the Vista firmly on the tarmac and the car reacts to every steering wheel input with reasonable precision even at sharp turns. However, there’s evident wind, road and engine noise intruding at speed. At lower speed, they’re so well contained that you’d swear you were in a much larger car, perhaps a ‘sedan class’ as Tata brands the new Vista.
The basic underpinnings of the newcomer are carried over from the previous-generation car. Petrol buyers can choose from 90PS Safire90 and 65PS Safire65, while the diesel line-up consists of a 71PS TDi and a 75PS Quadrajet. My favourite is the 1.3 litre CRDI Quadrajet, which really loves to rev and delivers 75PS of max power at 4000 RPM. It delivers acceleration with linear precision and with minimal turbo lag. At low speeds and in city traffic, the petrol variant excels and the Quadrajet is more fun to drive on a straight line. Although Tata claims smoother gear shift due to improved shift mechanism, it still lacks refinement and requires little more than a flick of the wrist. Braking is, however, front-biased and you’d really feel the need for ABS at high speed, which is available on the top two variants along with EBD.
The new Tata Vista is claimed to deliver a mileage of 22.3 kmpl for diesel and 16.7 kmpl for petrol.
For a generation that’s obsessed with safety, Tata offers dual airbags on the top variant, ABS with EBD on the two higher variants, collapsible steering column, crumple zones and side intrusion beams on all variants.
Prices start from Rs 3.88 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) for the Safire petrol and Rs. 4.79 lakh for the Quadrajet diesel. Considering the premium features the all new Vista offer, the slender increase in the price is worth every penny. While the car lives up to Tata’s promise of “more car per car”, the company needs to relook at the service quality and durability concerns so that the new Vista gets an edge in the overcrowded B-segment.
Clint Thomas, News Editor
Motorhead, rubberneck, lotus-eater