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Rating 8 8

Tata Indica Vista Quadrajet Aura

8th Sep 2009 7:00 am

Tata set out to deliver even more car per car with the new Vista

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  • Make : Tata
  • Model : Indica Vista

Under the skin, the Vista is a far cry from the Indica. Twenty-five percent stiffer and built using hi-tech tailored blanks of steel that vary in strength from section to section, the Vista’s  chassis is far from basic. It forms the basis of Tata’s new car platform and as a result has a lot of sophistication.

The nose of the car is compact and starts low, the car has a tight-fitting, modern skin, and stylistic details are very subdued. The wheel arches have only a hint of a flare, there is a subtle crease along the door handles and the front bumper is fused seamlessly with the car’s rounded nose section. The rear of the car with the tall tail-lights is difficult to tell apart from the Indica, though the lights are much narrower and the rear considerably wider. The only telltale sign, if you can’t compare, is a crease that runs across the hatch. The Vista, however, looks severely undertyred and excessively raised — a Tata signature if ever there was one. 

The Vista has been engineered to pass stringent European crash test norms and even the bonnet height has been optimised for pedestrian safety. Other areas that have been optimised include a fuel tank large enough to cater to a number of body styles, wheel wells can take 15-inch rims, suspension towers that have been strengthened, and a steering rack that is now placed on the front subframe to isolate it better. The design of the front suspension is an evolution of the MacPherson strut system seen on the current Indica, but Tata has opted to go for a non-independent rear. It uses equal length driveshafts for improved refinement and minimising the effects of torque steer.

The front seats adjust for height along with the steering wheel, the front seats are large, and back and thigh support is good too. There is plenty of legroom for tall drivers and for once general ergonomics are pretty good as everything falls easily to hand. The rear seats offer sofa-like comfort, with just the right amount of firmness as well. The bench is placed at the perfect height, thigh support extends all the way to your calves and the bench is wide enough for three. The backrest, though very comfortable and supportive, feels a bit too reclined. The door pockets (careful, they have sharp edges) are strangely very shallow, there isn’t too much space below the central console and though there is a very large and lockable glovebox as well as an tray under the passenger seat, a cabin of this size could easily have had more.

What Tata has got, by and large, right is quality. Yes, you heard that right, the Vista now has plastics and other bits that feel well built. A clear improvement from the crude Indica interiors, the grain on the dashboard, the soft-feel plastic on the dash and the improved fit and finish are things that will go some way in delivering a feel-good factor not earlier attainable in a Tata car but there is more to do still. Parts like the door locks, the air con controls, the buttons across the dash and bits like the ones that adjust steering and seat height are still not upto scratch. Skoda Fabia-like interior quality is still some way off.

With its radical centrally- mounted instrument panel, similar to the Nano’s, the look of the Vista cabin is bright and airy. What impressed us probably the most was the relative lack of squeaks and rattles. Doorshut is nice and solid, nothing worked itself loose over the period of some rigorous testing and fingers crossed, things should stay that way. 

Sitting on its wide track and long wheelbase, with 65 profile tyres, tall springs and gas shocks all round, ride quality on the Vista is terrific. The suspension works really well compared to the earlier Indica, the Vista having a composure and cohesiveness about it the Indi lacks and this raises comfort on roads considerably. There is less movement of the cabin when you hit a bump, absorption of hits taken in potholes is impressive and, though some shock is transmitted, it’s only the really sharp or steep-edged bumps that catch it out.

It wouldn’t be incorrect to state the Vista rides nearly as well as the Fabia. And the Vista also pitches only in extreme circumstances. Overall, it feels far more composed than a Swift on bad roads and doesn’t fidget about. Where a Swift feels choppy and unsettled, the Vista is completely unruffled. Still, despite the good straightline stability and feeling of surefootedness, this is not a car that enjoys being hustled around. The high suspension means the car rolls a lot, grip from the narrow rubber is not sufficient and the Vista is nowhere near as happy to get into a corner as say a Swift or even the Palio.

Though the light steering is a boon in city traffic and takes the muscle out of driving this car, it’s numb on centre feel at high speeds and a general feeling of vagueness does not encourage spirited driving.  The brakes however help build confidence but there is no ABS and on the narrow tyres absolute stopping distances are not that impressive. Nevertheless, for the most part they have plenty of bite and the pedal is nicely tuned as well.

Tata Indica Vista Quadrajet Aura
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