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Tata Indigo Marina in India test drive







Tata Motors have used and abused the first generation Tata Indica platform that about half of the cars from its stables are spawned on the Indica platform. Well, this was to be expected since Tata Motors had clearly announced their intent of using the Indica platform for more than one car, in 1999. When everyone thought that the Indica was the best looking hatch in the country then, the Tata Indigo broke cover. Although a booted version of the Indica, this car still commanded second looks. Then the third one, the Tata Indigo Marina in India came into picture. This was actually the best looking car in its category as well as from the Indica family. I personally liked this car when it was launched in 2004. The estate hatch made it all the more alluring. Since we at Indiandrives have this mentality of testing every other car that is available in India now, it is the turn of the Tata Indigo Marina car. This car was borrowed from a businessman friend of mine and since he uses this car extensively, he could only give it to me for a test drive and not for an entire day’s review. Wish I could have written the review of the Tata Indigo Marina but …………… Check on Road Price

The Tata Indigo Marina in India is one handsome beast and one which hasn’t undergone many changes since the time it was introduced in 2004. From the front, actually if you are a short person, something to the tune of only 4.5 feet, then you would easily mistake it for an Indigo but then even with that height if you are a true automobile jerk, then you wouldn’t miss the drooping shoulders of the Tata Indigo Marina and infact would recognize it from a distance as well. The once prominent Tata grille smiley is still present in this car and now with a chrome garnish. The head lamps are also simple units with no LED gizmos or anything. Like the earlier Indicas, this car also sports the black rubber beadings on the bumper and also on the sides. The air dams convert into a frown sort of shape. The good thing is that the outside rear view mirrors are also body colored and provide a good view of vehicles coming from the back. The 14 inch tyres however seem a tad too small and a personal favourite would have been 15 inchers with tubeless tyres. The rear in the meanwhile shows Christmas tree type tail lamps with a single wiper and a chrome tipped lift gate. These look better on this car than the old Indica with a similar setup. Actually from the rear quarters, the car looks like it is jacked up or something. This is done in anticipation that Marina owners would load their cars to the gills.

Pre Indica Vista fixtures greet you once you settle down in the cabin. The dials are also carried over from the hatchback from its V2 days. The 4 spoke steering wheel and almost everything is shared from its siblings. This is done infact to keep the costs lower. Sadly, one doesn’t get the audio controls (no audio system by the way), forget Bluetooth connectivity. The steering ain’t tilt adjustable but then the seat adjusts for various positions. I am not sure if I ever mentioned that the Tata Indica was the first car wherein I didn’t have to contort myself too much, just to get in the driver’s seat. Like the Indica and the Indigo, there are various cubby holes in and around the cabin. Seats actually start to burn your bums after some time spent in them. The AC does deserve a special mention here with its effectiveness in cooling the cabin really fast. Infact, I had read somewhere that the AC combo in the Indica and cousins was far superior to the Mercedes E-class system as well. That is only till the cooling efficiency is considered. Comparing a Merc and Tata product is like asking David and Goliath as to who will be the first to slap the other in a duel. Do I need to say that the back seats take the cake as far as interior space goes. I remember climbing into a Fiat Palio Adventure once and the lack of rear seat comfort hit me real bad given the size of that car. No such problem for the Marina. Infact it is a wee bit more comfortable than the sedan. Boot capacity has increased to 410 liters but then if you need more space, then flip the rear seats and you would immediately have access to about 620 liters of total boot volume, enough to ferry around for house moving chores. The boot hatch also opens vertically and with internal release mechanism.

Tata Indigo Marina Photo Gallery

The Tata Indigo Marina in India Dicor version boasts of Independent,lower wishbone,Macpherson strut type with anti-roll bar and gas filled shock absorbers at the front whereas the rear boasts of Independent,three-link,Macpherson strut type with anti-roll bar and gas-filled dampers. All this technicalities translate to a ride quality, that Tata is known for. A bit nervous on broken road patches at low speeds, the Marina goes with confidence at higher speeds and smothers everything in its part. Unlike other estate cars or for that matter sedans, the Marina doesn’t bottom out even when fully loaded to the gills. Its handling is better than what I have experienced for the Indica hatchback. It seems that the added weight has brought about a sea change in this car. It displays a good poise while going around corners and other than the puny section of the tyres, I didn’t feel it to be any nervous. Body roll is well contained in the elongated body shell. The steering wheel like all earlier Tata cars doesn’t have too much of feedback but it does place the car exactly where one needs it to be. Press on the Tata Indigo Marina around a corner at speeds of 60 kmph and the car would take it easily. That too with a full complement of passengers and their luggage.

Three engine options were available with the Tata Indigo Manza in India. Two diesel and one petrol engine. The diesels consisted of both direct injection as also indirect injection ones. The one that I tested was the DICOR version which Tata had introduced later on in keeping with growing emission norms. The 1.4 liter diesel engine with common rail injection and a variable geometry turbo charger meant 70 Ps of peak power at 4000 rpm whereas the torque figure reads as 138 Nm from as low as 1800-3000 rpm. It is mated with a 5 speed manual transmission. Mind you, this isn’t the Fiat gearbox but something which is entirely different and from Tata’s own stables. First about the gearbox, it is a bit recalcitrant on up shifts and sometimes on the down shifts as well. The turbo takes some time to kick in and by that time, if you are stuck in traffic, you would be cursing the motor and even slipping the clutch to get the car moving. There is a big gap between the second and third gear and I was always wondering if I have to keep it in 2nd or upshift to 3rd. However once on the boil, the turbo spools up nicely and provides for decent acceleration figures. Expect 0-100 kmph times of close to 17 seconds. The owner told me that he had once crossed the 160 kmph mark. I myself did around 140 clicks and the engine was smoothly humming at just above 3000 rpm then. At idle, the typical gravelly nature of the DICOR engine comes to forte. But then rev it a bit and you would get that smooth feeling. The petrol 1.4 liter motor, I believe made 85 Ps of peak power at 5,500 rpm whereas the 117 Nm of torque came in at 3,500 rpm. This motor was also mated to a 5 speed manual. Then there was the TDI motor which was also had a capacity of 1.4 liter producing an identical 70 Ps of power but only 132 Nm of torque. Brakes were the industry standard at that time, the discs in front and drums at rear. For the DICOR version that I test drove, it felt as if the brake pedal was a bit spongy. No ABS or EBD was available then for this car. Applying emergency brakes at the speed of 140 resulted in wheel lockup. Safety was also bare minimum with no air bags. The only safety features were the child locks, collapsible steering column as also the 3 point seat belts.

Fuel efficiency that the DICOR owner gets on a consistent basis is 14.3 kmpl in city with the AC on and 18.1 kmpl on the highway with AC on. He says that he prefers cruising at speeds in excess of 100 kmph on the highway. A light foot on the accelerator would well result in the fuel efficiency climbing up.

The bad news for all those who might be impressed with this car after reading this test drive report is that this car is no longer manufactured by Tata Motors. It has been discontinued. Checked Tata’s website and there is no mention of this car anywhere. Well to sum it up, I pretty much liked the Tata Indigo Marina in India. The main reason been its utility factor and its good looks. But the owner or rather my friend told me that this car has big time maintenance as also reliability issues. He said that he had to replace the tyres, engine gasket and many more things with the odo reading just 20,000 kms. That’s strange. Estates usually cost a bomb but then Tata Motors did the right thing by pricing the Tata Indigo Marina just a notch above that of the sedan. The Tata Indigo Marina price in India, on-road for the fully loaded DICOR variant was Rs 6.40 lakhs. The Tata Indigo Marina boasted of 7 variants namely the Indigo Marina GLS, Indigo Marina GLX, Indigo Marina LS, Indigo Marina LX, Indigo Marina GSX, Indigo Marina LX DICOR and the Indigo Marina SX. A product which deserved to do well but then poor marketing and some of the interior quality, reliability issues did it in.

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One Response

  1. I spent much time to read what Indian public says about this car. Overall it has mediate rating, I mean not bad, it is better than ever stylish car. It is comfortable, good performer…gives tough time to even premium segment cars.

    However, people abuse this car as it has small hiccups bad quality plastic, no extra cup holders, no alloy rims, no steering adjustments, no bonnet light, poor requisite qualities illumination head lights.

    Anyway this car looks like a winner on highway, runs with great dignity.

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