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Tata Indigo Marina TDi

8th Dec 2009 8:00 am

Estates cost more than their hatchback brothers and sisters


  • Make : Tata
  • Model : Indigo Marina

As many of you would be aware, this is not Tata's first estate. That was the 207 pickup-based ‘Estate’, sold back in 1992. The third variant on the Indica platform, the Indigo Marina, is built on the same extended wheelbase as the Indigo sedan.
A variant that will be built on the same line as the Indica and Indigo, the Marina looks familiar from head-on as there is virtually nothing to distinguish it from its booted cousin. The roof-rails are new, but apart from that it's the same nose. The additional cost of a new chin would have been a touch too steep.
The mass of the car and its elongated but voluminous lines are obvious once you walk around. The high roof drops towards the rear of the car, the long roof is ribbed to provide strength, but the hatch is barely different to that of the Indica.
Still, the Marina looks striking, especially the ‘pillar-less’ tail, where the tail-lights and flush-mounted glass hide the structural metal, easily its prettiest angle.
The front suspension, with its improved lower arm, is carried forward from the Indigo, as is the three-link rear, but softer springs and stiffer dampers have been used to deal with the load better. Like the sedan, the Marina also gets improved brakes, with a larger servo for better braking performance. The numbers also tell us that the Marina is shorter and slightly heavier than its saloon-car cousin.

Luggage space at the rear, even with the parcel tray in place, is impressive. But the 410-litre capacity can be taken up to 670 litres when luggage is loaded to the maximum, and if you want or need even more space you can flip the rear seat forward.
The Marina's rear has hooks and a net on the floor to help secure luggage, a couple of pockets in the side as well as a storage box on the roof. Loading the latter with heavy objects could prove to be extremely hazardous in a crash though, when these objects would instantly be converted to flying projectiles.
Interior detailing is a mix-and-match of that seen on the Indigo and the new Indica V2. The very European-looking ringed dials and air-con controls have been plucked from the V2, whereas details like the nice leather-covered steering wheel, gearknob and stalks come from the Indigo. There's new plastic, ‘galaxy-effect’ trim on the central console, and a sliding drawer, which took ages to slide out.
Plastic quality on the doorpads and the central console leaves much to be desired. Thankfully, the driver is sat high on softer seats that offer decent support, and these are comfortable on all but really long drives.
Legroom for medium and tall drivers has been curtailed by restricting the travel of the front seat, presumably in an effort to maximize rear legroom. A lever system replaces the rotary or knob-type seat back adjusters; this is sad because the latter allowed an infinite number of adjustments to be made.
There is ample legroom for back-seat passengers.  Rear seat comfort is good too, as the wide seat offers good thigh support and passengers are sat at a good height. The new shingle-type rear headrests may look good, but they affect shoulder comfort when not adjusted well.
Our tests showed that the air-con system functioned superbly despite the increased volume of the Marina's cabin, rear-seat temperature easily hitting 20 degrees in a short span.

Riding on suspension that has been visibly raised to deal with our roads and generous 175/65 tyres on 14-inch rims, the Marina possesses decent ride quality. This is especially true over broken surfaces at speed, where it feels composed and transmits only a few of the bumps through to the cabin. Low-speed ride is stiffer, the Marina getting jiggly over broken patches of road, despite softer springs at the rear.
Discomfort however is only mild. We loaded up the rear with luggage, added a full complement of passengers, and the Marina crests bumps and speedbreakers well, and ride doesn’t suffer on even poor roads.
Straight-line stability is also average. Bumps taken at speed nudge it mildly off-course, and the slow-acting steering makes keeping the Marina headed in the intended direction of travel more challenging that it should be.
It doesn't particularly enjoy being driven hard either. Despite front and rear anti-roll bars, body control is not great and the Marina looks at the world at a jaunty angle when cornered. Driven hard, the estate car begins to understeer and needs to be coerced back onto a chosen line. But push harder on tighter corners and it's the rear wheels that tend to lose grip first, and the tail tends to step out.
The brakes have a decent amount of feel, and retardation is pretty impressive too. A word of caution about the air pressure recommended by Tata, 26psi for all loads and speeds. It's too low, especially if the car is loaded with luggage and passengers, and is being driven at high speeds. Under these conditions, an additional five to seven pounds would be ideal. Happily, the rear doesn’t squat under loads. 

Tata Indigo Marina TDi
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