Tata Indigo Review
Car Tested: 2013 Tata Indigo eCS VX
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 7,21,210/-
The changes on the Indigo eCS makes it a better overall package but only just.
The Indian junta’s favourite body style is a sedan. Now the Indian government believes that sedans are space consuming vehicles and are a big part of traffic congestion, hence they imposed 15 percent extra excise duty on cars measuring more than 4 metres in length and having engine capacity above 1.5-litres (diesel) / 1.2-litres (petrol). This is where the concept of compact sedans came in. Tata Motors was the first manufacturer to slot in a car in this sweet spot. They launched the Indigo CS in 2008 at the Auto Expo featuring a 1.2-litre petrol and 1.4-litre diesel engine subjected to lower excise duty. Later in 2010, Tata Motors launched the Indigo eCS with the new CR4 diesel engine and this year it gets updated with mild styling and mechanical tweaks. Today the compact car segment is pretty mature. We examine whether the Indigo eCS has the potential to compete with established rivals or not.
Motor Quest: The Indigo eCS is based on the first generation Indigo which was launched in 2002. 11 years down the line, not much of the design has changed.
Exteriors – The Tata Indigo eCS looks exactly like the Indica until the C-pillar, post which there is a short boot slapped at the rear that looks disproportionate when viewed from the side angle. The pre-facelift version had a sober face, while the updated Indigo eCS gets aggressive styling elements such as the smoked bezel headlamps and front grille which is sleeker. The fog lamps now get chrome housing, which is integrated onto the dual tone bumper. The side profile shows new turn indicators on the rear view mirrors, a fresh set of multi-spoke alloy wheels and a wide strip of chrome garnish at the rear. The carmaker has tried to give the Indigo eCS a sporty touch but the overall appeal of the exteriors remains more or less the same as before.
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Interiors – Stepping inside the cabin of the Indigo eCS will remind you of the Indica again, as the dashboard layout is exactly the same. The difference from the previous version is that the colour scheme has turned into black/beige from brown/beige. The seat fabric is finished in beige that matches with the door pads. The steering wheel has grown bigger, derived from the Sumo Gold. However, the previous version had a better looking steering wheel, which was sleek in design. There is a digital clock placed in the middle of the dashboard and the new octa instrument cluster is a neat touch, which is simple and easy to read. The quality of plastics has been improved slightly but the fit and finish still needs to be worked upon. The power window switches are unconventionally placed in the centre console but thankfully the driver side window gets one touch function.
The audio system comes with 4 speakers + 2 tweeters that sound decent. The system also has CD, Bluetooth, AUX and USB connectivity options. Special mention goes to the air conditioning of the Indigo eCS that chills the cabin brilliantly. The stowage space inside the cabin is decent enough to keep the cabin neat. The cabin space of the Indigo eCS has always been its USP, as there is ample space to accommodate five passengers easily with good comfort. An arm rest is provided in the second row for added comfort. The seats are well cushioned and give decent support for long drives. On the flipside, the footwell is tight on space and the pedal placement is high without any deadpedal. It is a pain to keep your foot upright in bumper to bumper traffic. The boot space is well carved out and you can easily fit in a couple of suitcases.
Performance – The Tata Indigo eCS is offered with three engine options – 1.2-litre petrol, 1.4-litre TDI diesel and 1.4-litre CR4 diesel. We got to test the 1.4-litre CR4 common rail diesel engine that produces 70 PS of power and 140 Nm of torque. The Indigo has clutch to start working and once you crank up the engine, the decibel levels feel surprisingly low because of the improved NVH. The turbo lag is evident until 1800 RPM, post which the motor pulls in a serene pace and there is no sudden surge of pull. The engine can be pushed till 5000 RPM, where it feels strained and audible. Otherwise, the engine feels happy being in the mid-range with decent grunt for city runabouts and highway performance.
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The Indigo eCS comes mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox, which has significantly improved with cable shift operation that feels easy to use and is precise. It doesn’t feel sluggish anymore and operates smoothly but the reassuring feedback is still missing. The gearbox needs to be worked frequently for the car to get going in a continual manner because the in-gear performance is pretty inflexible. It can be appreciated as a highway runner, as the CR4 engine has good cruising ability. Gathering speed up to 130 km/hr doesn’t consume much time but post that mark, the motor loses steam and feels reluctant to move ahead smoothly. The company claims 25 km/l of fuel efficiency but in real world conditions expect 16-17 km/l. With the addition of a smooth gearbox and light clutch, the carmaker has managed to slightly improve the city drivability of the Indigo eCS.
Driving Dynamics – Tata Motors has tweaked the dampers for better ride quality and that definitely shows in the updated version. The ride is not exactly flat, it bounces a bit at the rear but the potholes and undulations are taken very easily by the suspension. Whatever the speed is, slow or fast, the Indigo just soaks up the harsh roads smoothly. The handling department is on the weaker side, where you feel a bit nervous when taking on corners at high speeds. There is certain amount of body roll and the corners should be taken in a balanced manner to maintain a neat line. However, high speed stability is good.
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Talking about the steering feedback, it is indefinite. You don’t feel connected with the big steering wheel that cannot be adjusted according to the height and is placed a bit high. It feels slightly numb at the centre and at parking speeds it is a bit heavy. Gather some pace and it weighs up decently but you have to provide relatively more input for quick action. On the highways, lane changing is brisk and easy. The stopping power in the Indigo eCS is impressive. The car sheds speed without any drama and comes equipped with ABS that works perfectly. However, the brake pedal bite could be better at high speeds; otherwise it is precise at normal speeds.
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Verdict – Tata Motors have improved whatever they could have in an existing product. The Indigo eCS now comes with an updated styling, a reworked cabin with additional features and few mechanical tweaks that make it a better overall package than before. It looks a bit fresh and is relatively easier to drive because of the mechanical tweaks. At the end of the day, the Indigo eCS still lacks the punch in terms of styling, equipment and drivability when compared to the much accomplished Maruti Swift DZire and Honda Amaze. The Indigo eCS will continue to have a strong reputation in the taxi segment because of its spacious cabin, smooth ride and frugal diesel engine.
The Indigo eCS has a spacious cabin, good ride quality and is fuel efficient but at the same time it is not mature enough to compete with other sub 4-metre offerings.
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* Interior Room
* Boot Space
* Ride Quality
* Fuel Economy
What’s Not So Cool
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2013 Tata Indigo eCS Specifications
* Engine: 1396cc, 4-cylinder, DOHC, 16V, CR4
* Power: 70 PS @ 4000 RPM
* Torque: 140 Nm @ 1800-3000 RPM
* Transmission: 5-speed manual
* Fuel Consumption: 18 km/l (City), 20 km/l (Highway)
* Fuel Type: Diesel
* Suspension: Dual-float
* Tyres: 175/65/14 Tubeless
* Brakes: Discs (Front), Drums (Rear)
* Safety: Engine Immobiliser, ABS
2013 Tata Indigo eCS Dimensions
* Overall length x width x height: 3988 mm X 1620 mm X 1540 mm
* Wheelbase: 2450 mm
* Ground Clearance: 165 mm
* Boot Volume: 380-liters
* Turning Radius: 5.0-metres
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 42-litres
* Kerb Weight: 1110 kgs