Decisive mandate, strong government and hope of an end to policy paralysis have helped the Indian automobile market to show some signs of revival. Though it will be a bit early to term this newly infused enthusiasm as resurgence of industry sales still one can safely assume that worst phase is now over. For last two years almost each organization had been hit by plummeting sales numbers though it was Tata Motors that was at the receiving end of this deceleration curse. The company which was ranked # 3 in marketsometimes back today finds it extremely hard to fetch even the minimum respectable sales units.Of course overall weak economic environment had been one of the reasons behind this poor performance though the root cause of the problem lies somewhere else. Actually the absence of effective leadership and lack of customer-centric products took their heavy toll on the overall performance of company.Company also became aware of these shortcomings and under the able leadership of late Karl Slymeffectively accomplished radical changes in people, processes and resources. Like other interested stakeholders, we, at eacrdlr, also closely followed all these proceedings and started speculating about the after-effects of this reshuffling exercise. While we were busy in betting about the possible outcomes, somebody popped over and caught the glimpse of new Indigo; one of the 8 launches steeredunder the leadership of company’s all new top management team.
What further hooked our interest towards this upgraded creature was the large mouthed claim of company’s officialsthat this offering has been upgraded with features exclusively based on customers’ feedback. Now that’s a catch because Tata Motors, we knew till date, give a shit about any sort of feedback and though this turnaround is a pleasant surprise, we found it rather hard to digest. So in order to avoid dyspepsia, we quickly rushed to the clinic of Tata Motors, got the prescription of new upgraded Indigo and took its comprehensive dose for whole day. Now to know whether the treatment results are actually that much effective or not, tag along as we comprehend you fully about this new improvedantidote from Tata Motors aimed to curb the curse of slowdown.
In a bid to make Indigo look more contemporary Tata Motors has infused some fresh designing cues all over the car though overall posture has not been altered heavily to retain Indigo’s inherent identity. Front face of Indigo now features a refreshed hawkish chrome grill flanked by new smoked headlamps. Though front bumper feels the same as in older version but in reality it has gone under the scissors as now it features chrome housed fog lamps; another attempt for uplifting the overall luxurious feel.
Profile view remains largely unchanged though the adoption of multi-spoke alloy wheels and wing mirrors with integrated indicators very subtly paly their role in making Indigo more suited for well-heeled masses though we would like tio see this new skinning featuring the modern pull-type door openers rather than the flap type Indigo continuous to feature for a long time. Side panels feature the same plain yet balanced dimensions and do their job well in restricting the car under sub-4m length.
Rear of the Indigo clearly feels to have derived its inspiration from the old model of Dzire as the car features the same chrome bar stretched between the ends as used once by Dzire. Nonetheless it looks great and it suits the overall design theme surprisingly well. Rear bumper now houses the parking sensors which will sure to make things comfortable in congested city traffics and tight parking lots. A dead on look at the rear three quarter easily reveals the underlying similarity between Indigo and Manza though Indigo’s boot looks more balanced than featured by its elder sister.
Overall the newly infused design elements do its job very intuitively and effectively. Though one has to give a proper watch to get acquainted with the changes, still we feel this mild approach will bode well for the remaining product life cycle of Indigo.
Step inside the roomy cabin of Indigo and one can easily sense the upmarket feel of this face lifted version. A combination of black and beige interiors further exaggerates the voluminous Indigo cabin and really helps to make the things more cheerful. Black dashboard houses the silver colour centre console with basic instrumentation comprising of AC and stereo housing. Quality of the buttons though is below the standard as switches feel fragile and shabby.
Beige inserts at the door pads along looks classy and the convenience of cooled glove box with pen and coil holder furthers up the ante of Indigo’s offering. Antiglare rear view mirror along with theatre type dimming light helps to cosy up the whole atmosphere.
Instrument cluster now features the octagonal shape though the fonts are still small and not very readable. Temperature warning has been integrated into the speed dial in order to steer clear from any congestion. Forte of space and room has been carried over by Tata engineers as new Indigo features a very comfortable front and rear seats for the passengers. Doors open wide almost to 90 degrees making ingress-egress an easy affair. Seats are well supported and even though a little low on bolstering, these snug you quite well. Rear bench has an optimum height and good thigh support as well. Legroom and knee room are offered in plenty though the head room is not as that good. Overall Indigo offers plenty of space and the occupants are sure to get bowled over by this extra-large feel of Indigo’s cabin especially if you are or have been the owner of any Maruti car. Boot space of 380 litres though not in the leagues of Amaze or Etios, still it is far better than the many of its rivals competing in the same category.
Engine & Transmission
The heart of the older model has been carried on to this new face lifted version as same power plants displacing the similar capacity has been retained though Tata Motors has made some important tweaking to improve the overall NVH and drivability package of new Indigo. Power developed by 1.4 litre, common rail direct injection diesel engine is rated at 70 PS while max torque is labelled at 140 Nm according to the specification sheet. Modern architecture of 16 valves mounted on double overhead cam (DOHC) is employed for the breathing purpose which really helps to improve not only the overall refinement levels but also keeping the NVH level to minimum.
Over the years the prowess of Tata’s engineering team has reached a new high and CR4 is another manifestation of the continuous learning that Tata Motors has now started to integrate in their new products. This in-house built engine is silent and far more refined than its previous iterations as now there is no earthquake-ish shake that rumbles this oil burner. A good use of noise insulation restricts the NVH level within an acceptable limit and that’s a welcome change.
Slotting the gear into first one and we were completely taken in as clutch was ultra-light; just like the petrol cars. We again confirmed that whether our test drive car is a diesel one or not as the perception of heaving some heavy and weary feel of Tata diesel has been rooted deep into our memory. Nonetheless the change is ridiculously good and sure to bode well for the sales aspect of the Indigo. But that’s not all about it. As we geared up the things another misconception of the vague and imprecise feel of the shifting exercise ripped apart as new transmission with cable type linkages feel far smooth and slick than the older version. But then some areas where Tata Motors has still to learn; drivability is the key one. Indigo has very noticeable turbo lag which although one could get over by shifting to low gears, is sure to feel irritating in the peaked traffic hours. Its drivability is several notches below the benchmark created by Amaze in compact saloon segment and that is only sore point in otherwise commendably improved version of this face lifted version. Midrange however shows some brisk progress potential as turbo push comes very handy after the rpm needle crosses the very common 2000 rpm limit. From there onwards Indigo hits you with a sweet wave of torque which is quite capable to dart pass any vehicle either in city or on highway.
Suspension hardware of Indigo features the independent McPherson strut up front and anti-roll bar at rear to suspend 175 mm wide tyres mounted on new multi-spoke alloy wheels. Company claims to have tweaked the suspension further for good ride comfort and there is no reason to doubt the claim. Already inheriting the good ride from its parental model, new face lift has further notched up the passenger comfort as additional efforts made by Tata culminated into blissful ride. The dampening of the spring has been on the softer side which is apparently perceptible the moment we hit the first pothole. The suspension travel is quite long and virtually there was not even a single crashing we witnessed in our entire test drive.
Handling on the other hand still remains below the benchmark though it is quite acceptable for such a good riding car. Steering feedback has been good at the slow speeds and though a bit heavy, it won’t intrude into the comfort factor. At high speed however the intensity of talk-back of steering wheel get reduced as it tends to be more on the lighter side. Overall dynamic package is well sorted as far as you drive with considerate attitude.
Available in three trim levels for eact petrol and diesel version, Indigo price is ranged between Rs 4.78 lakh to Rs 6.03 lakh (ex-showroom price, Delhi). Value for money (VFM) of Indigo offer ticks anywhere between good to very good scale as this price point undercuts the retailing of its all competitors from low to heavy margins. With this new face lifted version Tata has tried to liven up the glory of Indigo that actually kick-started the trend of compact sedans in Indian market though with passage of time it lost its leadership position. Now with contemporary wardrobe and intuitive interiors, company is hoping to get its lost turf back from the rivals though the enhanced intensity of competition in this compact segment is sure to make things difficult for even this face lifted version. Still Tata has played its gamble and whether it hits the bull’s eye or not, only unfolding future will tell. However for the moment we like and laud the efforts of Tata Motors for coming of the age and most importantly for finally listening to the feedback.
Style& Substance 3/5 Ride & Handling 3.5/5
Interiors & Ergonomics: 3.5/5 Safety & Equipment 3.5/5
Power-Plant & Transmission 3.5/5 Fuel Efficiency 3.5/5
Value for Money 4/5