Twenty-three kilometres to the litre – Tata claims that’s the ARAI-approved mileage this Indigo will give you. Naturally, the sceptics in us had to see if this was true. We brought out a diesel Renault Logan and then ran exhaustive back-to-back tests. Now, we know that the Logan is a fuel-efficient car, and our tests show that the Indigo is at least as efficient as the Renault. Though it didn’t return the promised 23kpl (we’re not surprised), we got 15.3kpl in the city and 19.3kpl on the highway – that’s an overall figure of 17kpl, which is fantastic whichever way you look at it.
How has Tata managed this from what looks like the 69bhp, 14.2kgm DiCOR engine on paper? What it did here was concentrate on reducing friction losses on the 1.4-litre DiCOR diesel. There are a series of design changes in the cylinder head and sealing gaskets, along with improved camshafts and valves and an ECU re-calibration. It doesn’t stop here. Tata’s engineers have also paid keen attention to small things like wheel bearings, and fitted the new e-CS with lower-rolling resistance tubeless tyres.
A happy by-product is that the redesigned common-rail motor (dubbed the CR4 engine) has lost some of the gravelly feel of the DiCOR. It runs quieter and idles smoothly too. Diesel clatter is minimal and this makes the car feel all the more grown-up.
We’ve always loved the responsiveness of the DiCOR motor, and this hasn’t been lost here. Throttle response is sharp and the car feels sprightly, thanks to the strong bottom-end and good mid-range. It does, however, feel strained towards the top end of its rev band, so it’s best to short-shift and keep the engine where it is happy. The peppy bottom-end and the relatively short gearing make this car a breeze to drive in the city.
What spoils it for the Indigo e-CS is the ride at slow speeds, which is jittery, and the suspension crashes over bad patches of road. It’s not what you would call an enthusiast’s car either, with the steering feeling vague around the straight-ahead position and middle-of-the-road dynamics.
There are other changes too – you can tell an ‘e-CS’ apart on the road by the silver-finished front grille, integrated turn-signals in the wing mirrors and chrome inserts on the rub rails. You also get dual-tone beige interiors, a new instrument cluster with chrome rings, electrically operated mirrors and a Bluetooth-ready audio system. That’s a lot of kit spoilt by an interior that still has some way to go in matching rivals on fit and finish.
The car is priced at Rs 5.13 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) for the ‘e-CS’ LX. The Indigo CS continues to be the cheapest saloon on sale in India but now, it is much better.