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Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Road Test and Review: Tata Vista D90

 Indica has been an important car for Tata. Ever since its launch in 1998, the car has evolved into a capable and practical hatchback that always stayed on top of sales charts. Now in its latest Vista D90 avatar, Indica has shifted the goal posts to another pitch. Powered by a specially tuned Quadrajet diesel engine, the new Indica is a completely different animal that delivers 90PS of raw power. However, does it live up to the hype? I recently spent two days behind the wheel of the D90 to find that out.
Design
Tata has thrown in some new design elements that reflect the sportiness of the car. However, the new bumpers and an aerodynamic rear spoiler seen in the pictures are not part of the original D90, but a body kit that you may purchase from the dealership. What come as standard are just a contrasting roof and the D90 badge at the rear.

When it comes to the interiors, the D90 receives major changes. The Manza-inspired dashboard looks pretty neat and thankfully the centre-mounted instrument cluster is back to where it belongs. The quality of dials and other bits and bobs have drastically improved. The moonlit white illumination looks classy and creates a pleasant ambiance at night.
The centre console now houses a small digital screen that shows real-time and average fuel consumption, distance-to-empty, ambient temperature and a digital clock. You also get a large multicolour touchscreen console that combines the entertainment, navigation and communication functions.

Other convenience features include 2-way adjustable steering wheel with audio/Bluetooth controls, 6-way height adjustable driver seat with lumbar support, intelligent rear wiper, electrically adjusted ORVMs, rear charging point and follow-me- home headlamps
The overall interior quality has commendably improved and like the previous editions of Indica, the D90’s USP remains the cabin space- and a lot of it.
Performance, Ride and Handling
The Quadrajet diesel engine helped by a variable geometry turbocharger and tweaked ECU develops 89bhp of power and 200 Nm of torque. As the figures suggest, the motor snarls pleasantly under the whip. Low-end drivability is really good, which means you can scamper through urban traffic without much downshifting. Turbo spools in at around 2500rpm and dipping into the torque is delightful. The engine has a strong midrange, pulling eagerly till 4500rpm before the needle glows red at 5000rpm.

The D90 accelerates from 0-100kmph in 15.5 seconds and is absolutely stable at three digit speeds.  Steering is on the heavier side and it gives you a confident drive, but it could be tiresome during long drives. As the D90 trundled along the highway, I saw many eyeballs from swankier cars glaring with flabbergasted looks that say: “Darn! Isn’t that an Indica just zipped away?”
Suspension has been reworked to cope with the sportiness of the car and it has certainly taken its toll on ride comfort.  Compared to Vista, the D90 offers a stiffer ride on rough patches but on the flipside, it handles well and has less bodyroll. Tata has engineered the D90 with a special NVH pack and it shows. Engine roar is well contained and road noise impressively low.

The D90 comes with enough safety and security features including dual front SRS airbags, crumple zones, side intrusion beams, engine immobilizer and ABS with EBD.
Tata claims a fuel economy of 21.12 kmpl and when driven sensibly, the D90 returned 19.8 kmpl on highway (with AC turned on). While exploiting the car’s full potential, however, the figure dropped to somewhere between 14 and 15 kmpl. The D90 is also equipped with a powerful air-conditioner that doesn't sap much engine power.
Having spent several hours driving the D90, I can attest that this car is a great package and is fun to drive. More remarkable is Tata’s undying effort to improve the quality of interiors. It may not be so refined as its direct competitors, but with a starting price of Rs. 5.99 lakhs, the Vista D90 gives you the best value for money.

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