Is the Indica Vista a segment breaker?
Tata Motors is in its 13th year of manufacturing passenger cars and the Vista is their second generation hatchback. World class cars like the Polo, Fabia and Micra have joined the bandwagon and Japanese manufacturers are also occupying this space by tailoring a car for the needs of India. Segment king Swift is now one generation ahead, the Liva diesel and the Brio are about to reside in the same zip code as the Indica Vista.
With limited experience and a sudden rush of international products, it is difficult for Tata Motors to bring the Vista on par with the competition overnight.
For Tata Motors the task was to improve the Vista with the market feedback and to that extent they have done the job well. If Tata is to invest 100's of crores, it is better spent on the next generation Indica expected in 2013-14. Tata has to benchmark the next gen Indica against the new Swift to come up to the risen levels of expectation.
The next generation Indica has to be quieter, more engaging and more stylish than the Vista.
Where does the Indica Vista score freely?
There's unbeatable levels of space and comfort. Though the Liva is ahead on space, it does not provide the Vista's seat comfort or the interior quality, look and feel. The Vista is the most comfortable car among the current crop rivaling some C-Segment products. Tata Motors expects 22% increase in sales with the facelift and the space/comfort will stay as its trump card.
How is it like from the driver's seat?
Tata has reworked the steering system, brakes and transmission. The gear lever is light, but the gates seemed to have widened a bit more than our liking on our 700km old test car. You grow used to it over a dozen gear changes but feel the need for a better shifter. The clutch is light, but we never stalled the car at stop-go traffic.
The brakes need more communication from the wheels, but a bigger booster means stopping distances have reduced. The ABS system kicked in during panic braking, and apart from the audible modulation, there are no complaints. The cable-operated gear lever does not vibrate during driving, but it jiggles during acceleration.
The 1.3-liter Multi-jet engine is tuned very differently on the Vista. At about 2k RPM the turbo wakes up, and a noticeable wave of torque is absent. There's linearity to acceleration and power delivery beyond this point, it feels like a petrol. You don't get kicked into the driver's seat during hard acceleration.
When the turbo spools, instead of a power wave, you get a power stream that flows uniformly till about 3.5k RPM. The engine revs freely, but past the 4K mark, surge is fully replaced by sound.
The steering feels engaging, unlike the Aria the controls or the horn do not foul with your palms while taking turns. The wiper and indicator knobs need more spring action, the horn is powerful and the height adjustable steering and seats will provide a commanding view of the road to the driver regardless of his build. The air conditioner provides instant cooling and we had to frequently turn it off during our drive.
Can you list some useful features on the Vista?
The power socket installed on the C-Pillar, a retractable bottle tray beneath the passenger seat, AUX and USB slots on the dashboard, electrically adjustable mirrors, keyless entry, intelligent rear wiper (operates when the front wipers are on and reverse gear is engaged), a clutch-operated start mechanism to protect the starter, Bluetooth compatibility of five phones at once with answer button on the steering and illuminated keyring are some very useful features customers will love on higher variants.
Like every product does, where are the Vista's short falls?
The media car provided to us was the VX diesel variant (one below the top-end) and we felt that the unsecured floor mat was a bad idea. On a long drive, it snaked under the brake pedal and there was a fear that it'll do a Toyota on us. The aircon controls felt loose and the gear operation needs stiffness. At over 110kph, there's a fair bit of tire, engine and wind noise that creeps into the cabin. Tata Motors can drown the noises by providing a louder sound system. This is the trick Ford pulls on the Figo.
Why will I buy the Indica Vista?
The Vista is priced under the Swift, and there's good reason for that. Priced starting from Rs. 3.88 lakhs (ex-showroom Delhi) for the Safire petrol range and from Rs. 4.79 lakhs for the Quadrajet diesel range (ex-showroom, Delhi), this car does not handle or drive like a Swift or the Micra.
It is not a driver's delight and to put in a nutshell it is a typical Tata vehicle - huge amounts of space and comfort, three-passenger rear seat, good mileage (ARAI approved 22.3 kmpl for the diesel), powerful air conditioner, easy ingress/egress and a functional cabin with many cubby holes and useful features.
If you are looking for a spacious VFM car for your five member family, you can buy the Vista with your eyes closed.