The Indica was Tata’s first attempt at making a hatchback and more so, a people’s car. And though the car was an instant success, many cursed its lack of quality and reliability. So when the Indica Vista was conceived, Tata had to make sure that all the negative tags that were now synonymous with the word ’Indica’, had to be eradicated if the Vista was to become popular as a quality product. And for achieving this, their obvious ally was FIAT – the Italian company that has done more good to Tata than itself in recent times.
Design and Features
Look at the Indica Vista from the side profile and it looks under-tyred and yet too tall, like most other Tata cars. The large wheel wells have been designed while keeping in mind the 15” rims that would later go onto the Vista’s sedan sibling – the Manza. But in the tradeoff, the Vista looks weird with small 14-inchers trying hard to fill in the large gap. A saving grace is the subtly flared wheel arches, which if more pronounced, would have made the Vista look like a sumo wrestler tip-toeing on a pair of stilettos. The rest of the car follows subtle lines too – like the crease on the boot-lid and door handles, or the centre parting on the bonnet etc. Contradictory to the subtle lines, the Vista has an aggressive front end, with the large, swept back headlights, a stubby nose and the mischievous smiley grille. The taillights still follow the Indica’s familial stack-up design theme but their narrower form distinguishes this Indica in a jiffy from the old school one.
The car’s high shoulder line and comparatively flatter curves than the old Indica make the car look fresh and a tad Italian (Palio-esque) in design. The interiors too are a departure from those in the old Indica and have a centre-up instrumentation console and a cleaner dashboard layout. Depending on the variant, the Indica boasts of all the creature comforts that you would expect from a standard 5-lakh rupee hatch – no extra frills here. There are no variants that offer alloy wheels either, which is a downer considering its competitors like the Swift, Ritz, Palio etc. have them in atleast one variant. The music system offered on the top end variant however, is decent and on par not only with the units in the competing cars but also units available for serious bucks under some notable entertainment brands.
Drivability and comfort
Thanks to the tall suspension, the Indica Vista has a fair amount of body roll. Hustle it around in the twisties and the Vista starts breaking a sweat. The skinny tyres further deplete your confidence and are vocal about their inability with a fair amount of squeals. Tata claims that the new chassis is stiffer and more sophisticated than the Indica. But the sophistication doesn’t seem have taken inspiration from the Palio’s chassis which in itself is a much better car when it comes to spirited driving.
Though the Indica Vista isn’t a great enthusiast’s car, it does its job perfectly well in the urban environs. The tall suspension may induce body roll, but when it comes to the great Indian potholes, the Vista’s shockers are amongst the best in its class. They’ll absorb most of the undulations and craters with utmost ease but tend to fret when these undulations are too sharp to steep edged. Overall it’s a potent city car and the light steering wheel takes the effort out of the traffic maneuvers in busy metros.
FIAT’s blessing comes in the form of engines as well! The Indica Vista benefits from one of the best engine options in the hatchback segment – with the 1.2-litre FIRE petrol mill and the highly acclaimed 1.3-litre Multijet diesel engine. While the petrol mill is tuned well enough for a 11-12 kmpl overall, the Multijet manages a frugal 16-17 kmpl! However, if you are not ready to pay the extra money for the Italian powerplants, Tata has its own 1.4-litre TDI engine powered variants at the cheaper side of the price range!
Being a player in the hottest segment of the Indian car market, the Vista competes with the Swift, Ritz, Grande Punto and the Hyundai i10 to name a few. While the Korean car can be left aside for its smaller size, the rest of the hatchbacks pose a serious challenge with better design and quality in the FIAT and a strong after sales service back-up for the Maruti Suzuki. But these basic factors apart, the Vista holds its ground firmly with a fresh design, better reliability and frugal engines, as compared to the old Indica.