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Tata Motors New Vista D90
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This Car Has Been Discontinued.
Customer Rating
: 4/5
Expert Rating
: N/A
Warranty
: 3 Yrs / 3,00,000 Kms (Whichever is earlier)
Ex-showroom price in 
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Strong Areas

  • Silent cabin 
  • Voluminous cabin 
  • Big car, bigger VFM
  • Very drivable diesel  
  • Good comfort-convenience features

Weak Areas

  • Small boot space
  • Plasticky  interiors
  • Reliability a suspect 
  • Handling not rival beating 
  • Lesser safety feature in lower trim
Tata Motors New Vista D90
 

Tata Indica Vista D90 ZX+

Think diesel hatchback and you automatically think of fuel efficiency, family, practicality and common sense. But here are three hatchbacks that aim to add a bit of spice, while retaining the core attributes of the segment.

Tata Indica Vista D90 ZX+

Think diesel hatchback and you automatically think of fuel efficiency, family, practicality and common sense. But here are three hatchbacks that aim to add a bit of spice, while retaining the core attributes of the segment. These cars are for people who want a bit more power without sacrificing the cheaper running costs of a diesel; a sort of have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too offering, if you like.

By that virtue, we can assume a few things – they are going to be primarily owner driven, they should be reasonably quick and entertaining to drive and, given that they are considerably more expensive than their lower-powered brethren, you would expect them to be well equipped. In fact, since you will probably drive these cars yourself, you would want as many gadgets as possible to keep you occupied during the mundane drive to work.

Meet the Fiat Punto 90HP, Hyundai i20 1.4 CRDi and the new Tata Vista D90. All three make around 90bhp, as you may have guessed, and all cost in the vicinity of Rs 7 lakh. The Punto, the pioneer of this segment, costs Rs 7.38 lakh. The i20 is the most expensive at Rs 7.62 lakh and the Vista, being a Tata, makes the others look overpriced. It costs Rs 6.83 lakh in this top-of-the-line ZX+ trim. At this price, it is more expensive than the regular Vista, but still seems like good value when you think of how much more the others cost.

The Vista doesn’t enjoy the same premium hatchback image that the Fiat and particularly the Hyundai do. Tata is trying hard to change this – the Vista D90 comes with engine, exterior, cabin and suspension upgrades. But is this enough for it to take the fight to the others?

DESIGN & ENGINEERING

If you’ve splurged on the extra diesel horsepower, you naturally want something that looks fast. Nothing in this group looks faster than the Fiat Punto. Everything about this car looks gorgeous – the snub nose, the tiny rear overhang, and wheels that fill out the arches nicely – it’s got Italian passion written all over it.

In fact, the Punto looks so good that the other two look a bit ordinary in comparison. That’s not because they are not trying – the Vista comes with bright colours, smoked tail-lamps and a black roof, and Tata is even offering a dealer-fit sports is even offering a dealer-fit sports body kit that alters the bumpers and adds side skirts and a spoiler (not fitted on our test car). But there’s only so much you can do with a car that started out as a family hatchback. The 14-inch wheels for example, look a bit too small for the big body, and the huge chrome grille and chrome strips along the side point more towards luxury than sport.

The i20’s recent facelift has really done wonders for the way it looks. The stretched-back headlights, slim grille and sporty chin make it look far more attractive. However, move back and its practical hatch nature is rather evident. The curves and lines don’t look as crisp as the Punto’s minimalist lines.

Of the three, the i20 is the widest, the Indica is the tallest and the Punto is the lowest. Surprisingly, for the amount of space on offer, the Vista has the shortest wheelbase, which serves to show how good its interior packaging is.

All three cars use the standard small-car suspension formula of independent MacPherson struts up front and non-independent, torsion beam, coil-sprung axle at the rear. All three use disc brakes up front and drums at the rear. Interestingly, the Punto and the Indica stick to hydraulically assisted power steering systems while the i20 uses an electrically assisted setup.

Sports hatch fans will like the fact that the Punto gets 15-inch rims, while the other two stick to smaller, 14-inch ones. And, though it doesn’t feel heavy, it’s the i20 that weighs the most at 1212kg, as against the Indica’s 1180kg and the Punto’s 1144kg.

INTERIORS

None of these cars will win any design awards for their cabins, but sheer functionality is where they score. The Vista’s upgraded interiors are a step up from the old car. The cabin plastics look plusher and feel more tactile. The grain on the dashboard, the soft-feel plastic on the dash and the improved fit and finish go some way in delivering the feel-good factor that has pretty much eluded the Vista till now. The best bits are the new touch screen multi-function audio system that’s great to operate and the dials for the climate control system, which look and feel upmarket. The instrument cluster, borrowed from the Manza, moves to the conventional position ahead of the steering wheel and looks quite good, but the small dials are a bit hard to read. Also, the cheap power window switches, the control stalks and sharp edges around the small door pockets are of iffy quality. Ergonomics are still an issue with the Vista. The pedals are a touch too high and there is no space between the clutch pedal and the centre console to rest your clutch foot

The interiors of the Punto have a bit of Italian flair, but the choice of materials is what lets it down. Though Fiat has improved the quality of the interiors, there are still plenty of hard plastics around. Even worse are the flawed ergonomics. The steering wheel is too close to the driver, the pedals a touch too high and the front seats, which are the least comfortable in this group, lack under-thigh support.

The i20’s interiors are quite sober, but the interestingly detailed steering wheel, the information pod on the dash and the two-tone split give it a bit of character. It feels wider on the inside and the front seats are large and well-bolstered as well. The large dials can be read at a blink, the chunky controls and switches can be used almost blindfolded and the insides have a well-screwed-together feel. The plastics quality is pretty impressive too, especially the big bits like the dashboard and the doorpads. Moves rearward and you’ll find the space in the Punto’s back seat is noticeably tighter than the other two. Legroom is tight and the sloping roofline means headroom isn’t generous either. Sure, there’s enough space for your kids in the back, but you’ll wish it had more, should you want to take friends out. There’s a lot more space in the i20’s rear, but there is a slight lack of thigh support and the flat, hard cushion doesn’t cosset you too well.

Not surprisingly, it’s the Vista that has the most spacious rear seats. The broad cabin makes it easy to sit three abreast and the high-set seat is very comfortable. But in maximising passenger space, Tata has eaten into boot space. At 232 litres, it is the smallest in this group.

The Indica Vista and i20 run nose to nose as far as equipment is concerned. The indica gets unique features like a touchscreen display with voice-guided sat-nav and a DVD player. The i20 gets kit like an auto-dimming mirror, a reversing camera, auto-folding outside mirrors and an optional six airbags! The Punto’s only standout feature is Bluetooth connectivity, and this is something both the other cars offer as well.

ENGINE, GEARBOX & PERFORMANCE

Both the Indica Vista and the Punto share the proven Fiat-sourced 1.3-litre Multijet diesel engine, pumping out an identical 89 bhp and 20.4 kgm of torque. What’s more, even the gear ratios on their five-speed boxes are the same.

Despite the variable-geometry turbos they use (which is how they make 15 bhp more than the lower-powered Multijet), both have considerable turbo lag, and it’s only when you get past 2500 rpm that they really wake up. That said, the Vista feels slightly stronger when the engine is running off-boost. Both these cars are also handicapped by absurdly short gearing. In the Vista, you have to shift to fourth gear before it’ll get to 100kph and the Punto has a slightly higher maximum speed in each gear only because its wheels are an inch bigger, thereby giving it slightly taller gearing than the Vista.

Multiple gearshifts before 100kph adds vital seconds to the acceleration times. The Vista takes 13.9 sec to do the dash from 0 to 100 kph, while the Punto takes a whole two seconds more – times which are, quite frankly, unimpressive (the less powerful Maruti Swift diesel does the run in 13.6sec).

Even the in-gear acceleration is much stronger in the Vista. It takes 11.78 seconds for 20-80 kph in third and 13.33 sec for 40-100 kph in fourth gear. While the Punto takes 12.40 sec an 14.23 sec for the same. This difference in performance is down to the tuning of the ECU and it’s quite disappointing that Fiat hasn’t perfected this on its own engine, which doesn’t feel like it has an 89 bhp motor under the hood.

The 1.4-litre motor in the Hyundai i20 is in a different league. The 1386 cc engine is remarkably more free-revving, the power doesn’t tail off suddenly, and the engine spins happily to 5100rpm. Sure, there is some turbo lag, but the boost comes in at a much lower 2000rpm, and this makes all the difference. Performance is pretty impressive, with the dash to 100kph taking 12.88 seconds. What also helps the Hyundai’s cause is its six-speed gearbox, which means a 100kph cruise sees the engine turning over at a relaxed 2100 rpm.

The i20 also has the most refined engine here. It’s quiet at idle, smooth when revving and gets a tad noisy only near the redline. Of the other two, it’s the Vista that is more refined, thanks to a new sound insulation package that Tata has installed.

RIDE & HANDLING

The Vista’s improved road manners surprised us the most. A revised spring and damper setting and optimised bushes are small tweaks that have a made a huge difference, and as a result, the Vista now rides really well. The pliant suspension soaks up potholes with ease and even sharp ridges are smoothened out without the passengers getting jarred. It’s fair to say the Indica has the best low-speed ride in this test. Straight-line stability is impressive, but show it an undulating road and it doesn’t feel as flat or planted as the Punto.

In fact, the Punto’s overall ride is even better than the Vista’s. It is simply phenomenal and you have to go on to far more expensive cars to find ride quality like this. At any speed and on all surfaces, the ride any speed and on all surfaces, the ride is flat with very little vertical movement, which is more than what can be said about the i20. The Hyundai has a soft setup, so the low-speed ride is decent, but it’s not half as competent as the Punto or the Vista when it comes to keeping its occupants isolated from the road. It’s not as stable at speed as the other two either, and in comparison to them, it’s quite clear that Hyundai is quite some way off from perfecting the right ride and handling balance.

Adding to the i20’s woes are a steering that is incredibly light and body control that’s rather sloppy. It’s not the most secure car to drive at speed.

The Vista surprised us again with its steering feel, which has never been a strong point of Tata cars. Thanks to a slightly stiffer setup than the 75bhp version and a new bigger-capacity hydraulic steering pump, it turns into corners better than before. Sure, you do get some body roll and squeal from the tyres when you push it hard, but the steering feels well weighted and the car feel secure and predictable. But again, it doesn’t have the ultimate grip or body control of the Punto, which is simply in a class of its own. Fiat, sometime during the Punto’s life here, raised the ride height by 14mm, and this Punto doesn’t feel as planted as before, but it’s still a cut above in this company. The steering is accurate too, and though this car isn’t particularly quick, the overall dynamics make it feel quite sporty.

It must be said that the i20 works best as a city car, it is easy to drive thanks to its light clutch, easy gearshift, super-light steering and relatively more responsive engine.

FUEL ECONOMY

The i20’s responsiveness also helps its fuel efficiency. Because you’re not feeding in as much throttle as the others in any given situation, it sips less fuel. It gave us 13.8kpl in the city and 19.5 kpl on the highway, and that’s impressive. The Vista isn’t all that far behind, with an equally impressive 13.0 kpl and 17.8 kpl, and it’s the Punto that consumed the most. It returned 12.8 kpl and 17.6 kpl for the city and highway cycles respectively.

AUTOCAR COMPARISON TEST

Vista D90 ZX+

I20 CRDi Asta

Punto 90 HP

The Punto has the looks of a winner. The eye-catching proportions and the beautiful ride and handling truly stand out. But even these don’t make up for its biggest shortfall – the disappointing performance. There really is no point in spending more money and buying a ‘powerful-on-paper’ hatchback when it doesn’t translate to the road. The Fiat is also the one that gives you the least equipment for the one that gives you the least equipment for the money.

The Vista, on the other hand, came as a big surprise to us. We are really impressed by how far it has come in terms of the way it feels and drives, It’s reasonably quick, very well equipped, costs a lot less and has a well-judged ride and handling package. There’s a big step up in perceived quality and the subtle improvements Tata has made all over the car have seriously improved it. It’s also the best value for money here. However, the Vista does have an image issue, it’s a bit long in the tooth now, the looks are no longer fresh and quality niggles are still known to surface. The truth is the Vista still doesn’t have enough of that all-important feel-good factor.

And feel-good factor is what the i20 has aplenty. Its refreshed looks, matched by a strong and smooth engine, nudge it ahead of the Tata. It’s well equipped, well built and the easiest to drive in traffic too. Sure, it’s expensive and the sloppy handling may not be the best here, but it’s still the car with the maximum appeal and the one you want to have.

TEST SCORECARD

COMFORT

Indica Vista D90                                                          8/10

I20 CRDi                                                                      8/10

Punto 90HP                                                                 6/10

Vista the most comfy, i20’s seats a bit hard and punto’s cabin is cramped.

PERFORMANCE

Indica Vista D90                                                          6/10

I20 CRDi                                                                      8/10

Punto 90HP                                                                 5/10

I20 is the quickest and the other two have modest performance.

REFINEMENT

Indica Vista D90                                                          7/10

I20 CRDi                                                                      8/10

Punto 90 HP                                                                7/10

I20 ‘s motor is the smoothest. Vista is quiet too, Punto feels gruff.

VALUE

Indica Vista D90                                                          8/10

I20 CRDi                                                                      7/10

Punto 90HP                                                                 7/10

Vista is best value. I20 pricey but well equipped. Punto has fewest features.

SAFETY

Indica Vista D90                                                          8/10

I20 CRDi                                                                      7/10

Punto 90HP                                                                 7/10

All three cars come with ABS and two airbags as standard.

RIDE

Indica Vista D90                                                          7/10

I20 CRDi                                                                      6/10

Punto 90HP                                                                 9/10

Punto has the best overall ride, Vista very good too. I20 feels unsettled.

HANDLING

Indica Vista D90                                                7/10

I20 CRDi                                                            7/10

Punto 90HP                                                               8/10

Punto is the most innolving, Vista is predictable, i20 good in the city.

BUILD STRENGTH & QUALITY

Indica Vista D90                                                        7/10

I20 CRDi                                                                     8/10

Punto 90HP                                                                8/10

Punto feels more solid than Vista. I20 has the best quality.

 

 

 

 

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