One thing which strikes me in all the Tata cars in India is the space quotient. Be it the small car, Nano or the biggest Tata Safari, there is no dearth of space in any one of the cars. Don’t believe me, you better do since I am 6 foot 4 inches and have driven or been chauffeured in every Tata car available now. This should be testimony enough of the space quotient which I have been harping about. The reason is because my newest fancy or should I say the oldest one is the Tata Indigo e-CS in India. When the Tata Indigo CS first broke cover, I was amazed with its design and compactness. But then last year, Tata brought on the modified version of the same and renamed it. Since I vaguely remember the CS’s interiors, I thought of getting the new one for a test drive.
The looks of the old car have vastly evolved but not like the Indica to Indica Vista transition. The new Tata Indigo e-CS in India looks very much like the old car that it replaced, from a distance. It has lost that Tata smiley but then there is that chrome plating on top of the grille. The head lamps are also peeled back units which reminded me of the ones on the top of the line, earlier Tata Indigo XL sedan. Other than that, the inverted air dam is also a new feature. The 175/65 R14 wheels don’t do justice to the bigger wheel arches and I would have preferred 15 inchers. The ORVMS have the turn indicators embedded in them. The rear is similar to the outgoing sedan and so there is no visual difference except for the somewhat parallelogram shaped tail lamps instead of the circular ones in the old one.
Tata Motors, when the first Indigo CS was launched, had percolated all their technological knowhow into it. Why, then the car boasted of un-Tata like interior quality. Rightly saying, it ushered in all the quality revolution in the Tata stables. For the e-CS, things aren’t much different. The steering wheel is a new unit which is shared by others in its stables. The meter dials are also carried over from the Indigo XL sedan. There are no steering mounted controls though. Power goodies abound in the cabin and space as usual is its forte. The dual tone interiors do a good job of eliminating the gloominess set on by the grey plastics. The aircon works well if a bit noisily though. Cubby holes abound in plenty and I am pleased to say that the panel gaps were also more even than an old Indica. Agreed that the quality levels weren’t similar to Volkswagens but then it was better than Marutis. Even at the rear, three passengers can sit comfortably provided not one of them is King Kong. The boot space at 380 liters is just a wee bit more than the Indica Vista but then it is loadable and useful as well.
Good handling cars was never Tata’s forte but then good riding ones are. The ride at slow speeds is a bit crashy with the suspension working overtime but then rise the speeds up and the car gives what we call as a pliant ride quality. Handling has lost some of the earlier nervousness from the Tata models but then this is no Swift Dzire. The steering wheel brings in more feedback than the earlier units but still isn’t upto the mark. It is light for city use but then you feel that something is missing somewhere, though you cannot place an exact finger on what it is. NVH has been significantly lowered on the DICOR engine and it felt like the Fiat multijet.
The Tata Indigo e-CS in India gets two engine options. One is the 1.2 litre MPFI petrol engine which pumps out 65 Ps @ 5,000 rpm and 100 Nm of torque @ 2,700 rpm. The diesel on the other hand is the familiar 1.4 DICOR unit with 70 Ps of power on tap @ 4,000 rpm and 140 Nm of torque between 1,800-3,000 rpm. Both these engines are mated to 5 speed manual transmissions. Though I cannot list the exact figures due to our testing equipment going kaput, I can say that it would be just 2-3 seconds more than what the Swift Dzire achieves for both the petrol as well as diesel model. Brakes are also good with discs at the front and drums at the rear. There are no electronic aids but then there is the gradient assist present. Safety is also bare basic with no air bags and only child locks at rear, door ajar warning, 3 point seat belts and a collapsible steering column.
Fuel efficiency of the diesel motor is what Tata is priming itself on. The diesel returned a realistic 15.6 kmpl in the city whereas the open highways saw the figure climbing to 21.1 kmpl. Almost similar to the claimed 23.2 kmpl figure by Tata. The petrol on the other hand returned figures of 13.4 kmpl in city and 17.6 kmpl on the highway.
The Tata Indigo e-CS is for those looking for a sedan at the price of a hatch. Tata Motors had claimed that this was the cheapest 4 door sedan available in the world and I am sure that there are no doubts about it. It has got the space, fuel efficiency, good interiors, price and some good looks. The negatives are less now with the interior quality still needing some prodding and Tata image. By the way, the e moniker stands for economy. The Tata Indigo e-CS price in India starts at Rs 4,08,000.00 and goes upto Rs 5.13 lakhs. All these prices are ex-show room, Mumbai.