Tata Indica Review
Car Tested: 2013 Tata Indica eV2 LX
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 5,72,910/-
The Tata Indica receives minor changes yet again but remains very similar to the previous model.
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.
Motor Quest: The Tata Indica was launched in 1998 and was India’s first indigenously developed passenger car. It is also Tata Motors’ (then Telco) first passenger vehicle.
Exteriors – Tata Motors has made minor tweaks to the styling of the Indica yet again. When it was launched (even in the V2 avatar), the Indica was quite an appealing vehicle. But today, no amount of chrome can hide the vehicle’s age. The Indica looks dated and Tata Motors has done its usual bit of adding a chrome strip at the rear and turn indicators on the rear view mirrors. Sadly this is not enough of an update to the design of the Tata Indica although we like the brownish maroon colour which has been added to the palette.
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Interiors – Step inside and you are greeted by the familiar Indica cabin, which keeps evolving over time. While the dashboard design remains similar to the V2, the 2013 Tata Indica gets improvements in quality along with dual tone interiors of ebony black and sahara beige. The seats are now beige in colour with similar coloured inserts making their way on the door pad. The side AC vents, centre console, gear knob and glove box knob are finished in silver metallic colour.
The 4-spoke steering wheel gets ebony black finish but sadly the steering wheel is so big, you feel it’s lifted out from Tata’s 407 truck! The rear view mirrors are electrically adjustable and a digital clock has been placed on the centre of the dashboard. The driver side power window gets one touch function but the location of the switches (in the centre console) is ergonomically wrong. The audio system gets Bluetooth connectivity and audio quality is decent. The AC works well to chill the cabin quickly.
Where the Indica continues to score well is the space. The vehicle boasts of excellent interior room for all passengers and this car can truly seat five in comfort. The use of beige makes the cabin a bit more airy and the large glass area ensures that passengers feel at ease even on long journeys. The seats offer good comfort although the rear bench doesn’t have adjustable headrests. Boot capacity is good and there are quite a few storage spaces inside the car including a new magazine and cup holder in the front doors. There is a storage area below the steering wheel as well.
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Performance – Lift the rather heavy hood and you will be greeted by a 1.4-litre diesel engine, which Tata Motors has badged as ‘CR4’. This motor has the intercooler mounted at the top and gets no updates for 2013. The company claims a mileage of 25 km/l and you shouldn’t find it difficult to extract 17-18 km/l in real world conditions. NVH levels are surprisingly good and the motor isn’t much audible at low engine speeds. However when you push it near its 5000 RPM redline, it does get heard. This engine does decently in the city while performing very well on the highways, thanks to the taller gearing.
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The Indica eV2 has a clutch to start operation and once on the move, you will realise there is considerable amount of turbolag. Once past 2000 RPM, the Indica starts to pull decently but you do need to downshift frequently to get going. The oil burner doesn’t struggle till 120 km/hr but in-gear acceleration isn’t its strong point. The pre-2013 Indica was known to have a rough gearbox but the company has updated the transmission with this facelift. The Indica now uses a F-shift gearbox which has a cable shift instead of a linkage. This helps in smoother cog swapping and the vibrations have reduced too. However there is still some rubbery feel in the way this lever operates. The clutch is light and overall performance sees a minute improvement due to the improved gearshift.
Driving Dynamics – The Tata Indica has never been applauded for its handling and the latest model is no different. What really robs away the feel from the car is the extremely large steering wheel (placed too high) and imprecise feedback from it. There is quite some body roll and the Indica is not a car you would push through the corners as it simply doesn’t convey to you what’s happening at the front wheels. High speed stability is good though and the Indica doesn’t feel unsafe or nervous at triple digit speeds.
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Where the Indica does fare very well is the ride quality. The vehicle has been known for absorbing most of the bumps on the road and Tata Motors has now updated the suspension shifting to a dual path front suspension which enhances ride comfort slightly. The Indica gobbles up most of the bumps on the road with authority although low speed ride isn’t as comfortable with a bit of bouncyness being felt by rear seat passengers. The brakes offer decent stopping power but the pedal positioning needs a re-think as their placement is very odd.
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Verdict – 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.
The updates to the Tata Indica will keep it going strong in the taxi segment but aren’t enough to make private buyers consider it.
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* Ride quality
* Interior space
What’s Not So Cool
* Dated design
* Average dynamics
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2013 Tata Indica Specifications
* Engine: 1396cc, 4-cylinder, DOHC, 16V, CR4
* Power: 70 PS @ 4000 RPM
* Torque: 140 Nm @ 1800-3000 RPM
* Transmission: 5-speed manual
* Top Speed: 160 km/hr
* 0-100 km/hr: 15.50 seconds
* Fuel Consumption: 18 km/l (City), 20 km/l (Highway)
* Fuel Type: Diesel
* Suspension: Dual-float
* Tyres: 165/65/14 Tubeless
* Brakes: Discs (Front), Drums (Rear)
* Safety: Engine Immobiliser
2013 Tata Indica Dimensions
* Overall length x width x height: 3690 mm X 1665 mm X 1500 mm
* Front/Rear Track: 1400/1380 mm
* Wheelbase: 2400 mm
* Ground Clearance: 165 mm
* Boot Volume: 220-liters
* Turning Radius: 4.9-metres
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 37-litres
* Kerb Weight: 1105 kgs (LX)