')">When the Tata Indica Xeta was launched in 2007, Tata Motors had a very funky ad and tagline to go along with it. As far as I can remember, it was something on the lines of “We want a sizzling hottie who would like to get naughty”. The ad showed a few girls asking lift from a person in an Tata Indica Xeta and the rest is history, as they say it. I have always loved Indicas for the very fact that it was my mode of transport for the approximately 5 years that I spent in BPOs. Over the years, I did appreciate the spacious nature and the no nonsense attitude of the car. Why, even after a few years, when I became friendly with the drivers, I was even allowed to drive the car. If you are a 6 footer, you would understand how hard it is to fit into the driver’s seat in a small car. But then the Indica used to accommodate me fine. So paying a tribute to the same, I am ready for a review of the petrol Tata Indica and that is the older Tata Indica Xeta in India.
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The IDEA designed car which made for great presence initially when it was launched made for a great companion to all those cab drivers and like. But then demand started waning and Tata had to bring in the revised version soon. The V2 version was launched as result. It featured a more rounded version of this car. The Tata smiley grille has been also given prominence. The fog lamps were also bigger in size and shape. There is a black bumper cladding all around the body of the car. The alloy wheels of this car are also slightly different than its more famous diesel cousins. The 14 inch wheel tyres still don’t do justice to the flared wheel arches. The rear is where all the action is. It does show some visual changes than its diesel cousin in the arrangement of the tail lamp cluster. Don’ know if its just me but then I have been always able to recognize a turbo version as well as the Xeta one from a distance.
Unlike the earlier Indicas, the V2 generation gets a gob smack in place of the boring interiors. The new Indica Xeta in India gets beige color interiors with a white faced instrument panel. The 4 spoke steering wheel is different than the 3 spoke one which was there earlier. To make a good case of itself especially in front of the Marutis, Tata Motors have skimped out on offering a music system in the Tata Indica Xeta. The outside rear view mirrors however can be manually adjusted from inside. The front seats are very comfortable and as I had blabbered earlier, even so for 6 footers or plus size. The gear lever has now been made a tad stubby in heed of customers feedback. Power goodies are absent but there are many storage spaces available. Quality is still a big issue especially when it seems that Tata Motors isn’t keen on refreshing the quality of the interiors like those seen in the Indica Vista and Aria. Plastic quality is not of the soft types and somewhere down the line, you feel that the plastic quality could have been better.
The rear seat is very good and comparable to the Maruti Ritz in terms of comfort in small, economical cars. But then the under thigh support can be caught a bit lacking as compared to the now more modern cars. But then the sense of space makes one forget about this small things. The very fact that almost all of the Indiandrives team (spare for one, all are 6 foot plus) could sit comfortably and not even so much as brush shoulders is a good testimony of the space utilization by Tata Motors. Boot space is not much to speak about but then it is way bigger than the Maruti Swift.
Handling and ride quality
The suspension bit hasn’t changed for the Tata Indica Xeta in India. It still sports the same settings as its 1.4 liter petrol engined cousin. The front suspension is Independent, Wish Bone type, with McPherson struts and Anti-roll Bar whereas the rear one is the Independent, Semi trailing arm with coil springs. The ride is very good at low speeds however it isn’t as refined as I would have liked. Especially after sampling all those German and Japanese cars. The handling is okay and as far as the skinny tyres can hold out for. It is definitely better than the Zen Estilo which I reviewed some time back. Due to its low stance the feeling of security is a bit enhanced. The steering is not like the modern Tata units and it is irritating to say the least. At city speeds, those accustomed to Tata vehicles would immediately recognize the numbness straight ahead feel. It actually requires more locks to go for a turn. Out on the highway, the car feels adrift and much like as if you are floating around. The NVH is slightly on the upper side but much lower than its diesel sibling. Go to high speeds and the NVH level rises two folds.
Engine, performance and fuel efficiency
The engine is the biggest change in the Tata Indica Xeta in India. The 1.4 liter petrol engine’s bore has been reduced so that it now displaces 1193 cc. The change was to bring down the price of the car and position it against Maruti’s entry level offerings. This was done at a time when the Tata Nano was still in conception stages. The 1.2 liter engine now makes 65 Bhp @ 5,200 rpm whereas the peak torque is now 100 Nm @ 2600 rpm. This figures are less as compared to the 1.4 liter engine but not by much. But then the weight of the car is still the same and it is approximately 150 kilos heavier than the competition. This means that acceleration figures are bound to suffer. Moreover, the 5 speed gear box is as vague as it can be. It isn’t smooth as the newer Vista’s unit. First three gears are okay but then move onto the 4th and 5th, you would be hunting or rather concentrating on the gear lever rather than the road. The 0-100 kmph dash comes up in 16.27 seconds and the top speed is 156 kmph. Since the torque is available lower down, there is a judicious use of the gear lever to be made. Also the car is geared low.
Brakes are the usual discs at front and drums at the rear. Unfortunately there is no ABS or EBD offered. Brake pedal feel is similar to the diesel Indica and the wheels do lockup under full bore braking stints. Alarming. Safety is also not that good with Tata Motors not even offering air bags as an option on this car. It gets the usual 3 point seat belts, anti submarine seats, collapsible steering column and side intrusion beams.
Fuel efficiency was another factor where Tata Motors have concentrated in the Tata Indica Xeta in India. The fuel economy, I managed to coax out of it was 13.3 kmpl in the city, with the AC on and 17.5 kmpl on the highway between speeds of 70-80 kmph.
The Tata Indica Xeta in India is one such product that inspite of its shortcomings, I would heartily recommend to anyone on a tight budget. The reason is that if you are a family of 5 heavily built people, then no other car in this price bracket can cater to your needs more than this car. That is if you are willing to overlook the Maruti Eeco van. After a few days, I am sure that you would be forgetting its bad points and enjoying the sublime ride quality in the city as well as the space quotient that the car provides. Don’t get me wrong. I am not paid to elevate the Tata Indica Xeta but it is one car which actually struck me with its innovative packaging. Its bad points are its somewhat iffy build and plastic quality, lackluster driving experience and lack of safety features. I firmly believe that if Tata Motors can bring up the interior quality like those in the Vista and also tune up the engine for more performance, then they have a certain winner at hand. The Tata Indica Xeta price in India starts from Rs. 2,44,014 – Rs. 2,79,094 . All these prices are ex-show room, Mumbai. At this price, it is better value than the Maruti Alto and the Hyundai Santro Xing.
Technical specifications of the Tata Indica Xeta
Engine type: 32 bit Microprocessor controlled ignition with 475 SI 4 Cylinders
Fuel system: Multipoint fuel injection
Displacement: 1193 CC
Configuration: In-line petrol
Maximum Power: 65 Bhp @ 5,200 rpm
Maximum Torque: 100 Nm @ 2600 rpm
Weight and dimensions
Length: 3674 mm
Width: 1675 mm
Wheelbase: 2400 mm
Height: 1485 mm
Kerb Weight: 995 Kg
Ground clearance: 170 mm
Fuel tank capacity: 37liters
Transmission: synchromesh-5 forward, 1 reverse
Steering system: Hydraulically assisted Rack and pinion
Rear suspension: Independent, semi trailing arm with coil spring mounted on hydraulic shock absorbers
Front suspension: Independent, Wishbone with McPherson strut and anti-roll bar
Minimum turning radius: 4.8 m
Brake type: vaccum assisted with PCR valves, dual circuit, diagonally split
Front brake: Ventilated disc
Rear brake: Drum
Tires: 165/65 R14 (tubeless)