Was selected as part of a blogger contest with Blogadda where I could get to test drive a Tata Vista D90 for 3 full days and write a review in return.
I had requested for a car over the weekend so I could drive it about in Mumbai in various parts of town, but TATA Motors ended up (regrettably) coming on a Thursday. The driver reached my building complex and asked the security guard to let him speak with me over intercom before handing over the keys. The guard, by pure error, dialed someone else, who denied the fact that they had asked for a test drive. The call ended up being my dad who was absolutely clueless and the driver was asked to go back. After about 2 hours, I dialed TATA motors asking where is the car they promised on a Thursday. The TATA Motors exec said that ‘Sir, you yourself said that you did not want to drive the car’. Being clueless about this discussion as well, I asked him to come in again tomorrow and call me on my mobile once the guy is in. Friday morning, the same driver showed up and called me on my phone and I quickly arranged to pick up the keys from him and headed to work.
First time I got inside the car, I was pleasantly surprised at how spacious the car was. The driver seat was too high and too far ahead. Managed to get in a driving position in less than a minute. Steering height was also adjusted. Kick started the engine and figured that the RHS ORVM was not right and went ahead to adjust that, but found out that 1/3rds of the ORVM was reflecting the driver and the back door. Blind spot!
The first time I started the car, it was eerily quiet. No vibrations, no diesel engine clatter, nothing. Pulled down the windows and the story did not change. Figured that this was a ‘warm’ diesel engine and was confident that the noise would be even worse on a cold start. Got comfortable and started driving to work. The engine was very rev-happy with the pull-zone being between 2000-3500 RPM, and the rev needle went all the way to 8000RPM!. Figured that the turbo lag would be insane, but it was just fine. Power delivery was linear and there was very minimal turbo lag. The engine starts making a noise at 3000RPM and wants you to push more. And it does not disappoint. Post the turbo band, the power delivery is still linear but the acceleration is not as hard. Also, the power delivery is not as violent as the Verna VGT, which means that the car is driveable in bumper-to-bumper traffic. When you do rev the engine, you feel (and hear) that you are going fast, but in reality, you are always about 20kmph slower than what you expect. (Verdict: LOVED the engine)
With a great engine, you will always need a great gearbox. Unfortunately, the D90 disappoints. This one has a 5 speed gearbox with the gear ratios inconsistently spaced. The 1st gear is good for you to get to 20kmph, even though you rev to 4000, switch to higher gears and you will experience a jerk. This engine deserves a 6 speed gearbox for you to actually ‘cruise’ at the speeds you want to – which is about ~100kmph. (Verdict: Disappointed)
An Indica of 2012 still has the roots of the old Indicas of the 1990s. The same mouse-like design, but the styling has evolved to a great extent. The headlights are wickedly swept back and the rear looks clean. I am not a very big fan of chrome plating and thank God, it did not have that gaudy tacky-looking chrome everywhere on the car. The side indicators are embedded into the body and hidden under the ORVM. Not a very optimum design, but it did not seem to bother me too much. However, I still prefer the pimple-like side indicators we have on the Swift. (Verdict: Happy with the design refresh)
Having owned an Indica about 10 years back, I was not expecting anything better. But boy was I surprised! Not saying that the interior quality was great, but the fact that they did think over the design made it worth it. The plastics were below average and it should really have been similar to the new Swifts at least. The cabin was insanely quiet and almost no ambient noise from the outside made it’s way into the car. (Verdict: Confused – Dissatisfied at the quality of plastics, but happy that they did put their heads together for the design, though it being a direct rip-off of the Manza). The seats are flat and hard. There is no lateral support and can be slippery when turning sharply.
(Verdict: Let down with the interior quality)
Far too many, I am afraid.
1. There is a huge blindspot on the RHS ORVM, which is quite frankly, dangerous when you are merging on to a highway at night.
2. No dead pedal. You will always have your left foot on the clutch (see pictures). There is no ‘rest’ position for both of your legs if you adjust the seat to the lowest position.
3. The Horn was feeble and at the end of the 2nd day, the horn sounded like it is going to give up entirely on me. Sounds like an old man yelling at you, while being choked by someone.
4. The Central Console might look pretty with the decent paint job on horrible plastic, but there is no excuse of making a tiny ‘OK’ button 6 inches away from the navigation pad. The Aux/USB rubber protector will fall off after 10 uses.
5. Tyres need to be wider and the wheels need to be at least 2 sizes bigger. This is ridiculous.
6. Seats are hard and flat. Replacing them with benches with spikes in them would be more comfortable, IMHO.
7. Seat belt slot does not move. The seat belt is always in an awkward angle which cuts through your neck if you are a 6-foot largish man.
8. If you take the keys out and if the lights are turned on, they will remain on. Come on! Even my 2006 Swift VXi turned off the lights when the key was pulled out. You risk battery drain and the only thing to remind you is the forgetful beep, which you think is the car telling you that the key is out.
In a nutshell, I was expecting the Vista D90 to be the same as what I had driven ~10 years back, but I was surprised at how much the car has evolved. There still are things which remind you that this car was not entirely thought through (or was intentionally left behind citing cost cutting). This car is all about the engine and the engine alone.
As a first car, I would recommend it, surely. With the mileage it (and the instant mileage-meter) claims at 25KMpl, I think this is a good deal.