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Old 18th September 2011, 00:09   #1
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 297
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Lightbulb Pista (my Indica Vista) turns 14k

It’s a month less than what would be 2 years since I bought my first new car - the Tata Indica Vista. I previously had a second hand Maruti 800 and this was literally a ‘big’ upgrade from there. You can find my initial ownership thread elsewhere on this forum (http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/test-d...ica-vista.html (I give you Pista - My Tata Indica Vista)), however now that my car is nearing 2 years I think its time for a write up on my long term ownership experience.

My Pista clocked 14000 kms last week. I had clocked 9000kms in my first car after hanging on to it for 2 years, so that goes to show that I have upped my driving a notch with the new car. Oh well, when office is just 3kms away from home, clocking mileage becomes quite a herculean task. Nevertheless, thanks be to my in-laws place that is a good 25kms away from home, I at least get to use the car on the weekends.

So that being the car, my car has primarily been used for driving around within the city. You could argue that I drive on the ring road in Bangalore a lot, but trust me, the ring road is far far worse than city roads both due to its potholed nature and incessant bumper to bumper traffic. I spend an average of 2hrs to cover a one-way travel of 25kms and that is how bad the traffic is for me, for me car, and for fuel efficiency.

The very reason mentioned in the last time prompted me to want to switch my car for an Automatic, as I was fed up having to resort to using the car to exercise my hamstrings. I wanted the ride to be peaceful and not a workout. Of course, I had to shelve that idea and that is one long story. To cut it short - I changed my job, my lease was too high to pay off (not owing in any small measure to the atrociously low resale value of a Tata car), and I decided to just keep the car and wait for a better moment to write it off.

Well, that means I have been stuck with the car for another 5000kms (1 year) after I had planned to give it away. And stuck it is, for reasons you will find out soon enough.

As mentioned, primarily my drive was to ferry my wife (and later my baby) to and from her in-laws. That of course meant that I had a lot of luggage to lug around. Now the Indica is reputed to be a huge car, but on the Vista, that description applies to only the passenger space. The boot space is quite small and irritating at times. During occasional airport trips, I could barely fit in a 20kg suitcase and a couple of laptop backpacks. Had I had to carry one of the larger suitcases that we Indians are accustomed to carrying (at least those that frequently travel by train), then I would have had to ask my passengers to take a cab, while I carried their luggage.

In fact the boot + rear cab is a such a black mark on the Indica’s luggage carrying reputation that I could barely fit in a bi-cycle (with the front wheel off) without it serving as a headrest for my wife in the front passenger seat. Of course it has to be said that the bike had to serve as her headrest since we had to take off the actual headrest to fit in the bike. The space was inadequate to carry a fairly large cane chair, and I probably had more trouble loading and unloading my baby’s crib, than the trouble a lady might have had delivering a child. It was absolutely rubbish trying to cram the crib into the car, and I chipped quite some paint off the interiors of the car.

On an i10, that is understandable, but not on an Indica. I mean, I am ok with it not having space, but the reputation that it carries is ridiculous. When I am asked what car I have when I need to carry some large items, and I say I have an Indica, people laugh at me for being skeptical about carrying that load. And then when I try to cram that load into the car, I feel like giving one tight slap to the person that convinced me to use my car instead of a goods vehicle to do the movement.

The ride is plush and comfortable on the Indica and it doesn’t wheeze with all that load. However, seat two adults in the rear and I have had many instances where the car bottomed out on Bangalore’s speed breakers. Again, the next person that talks about the ground clearance on the Indica without riding the new Vista is going to get it from me. I feel embarased when my car bottoms out and the wayfarers around look at me with an expression that reads - how did that guy manage to bottom out an Indica? “The Vista is softly sprung my dear friend, learn the mechanics of springs first” - is what I want to scream back at him.

Speaking about softly sprung, lets talk about body roll, or lets not. Body roll is incredible to the point that you just don’t want to turn your car at double digit speeds. Ok, its not that bad, but I feel quesy each time I take the Airport road flyover loop at speeds just under 40. My wife feels that I am doing a 100kmph turn and grabs on for dear life.

What else? The electricals are mental, its like it has a life of its own. The wipers go on every 50th time I turn on the ignition, for no apparent reason. It does a singe wipe, draws a neat little dust scratch on the windshield and settles down. The fuel indicator seems to be measure the wind speed for all you know. At times on a full tank, after a short drive, the indicator drops to half. At times, even after 3-4 days of drives, the needle points to the same level. In order to be safe, I need to ensure that top up the moment the needle drops around the 25% mark. At time I still have a lot of petrol, and at times I have almost dried the tank through. I remember once incident where I topped up the tank and the day or so saw the tank needle point close to empty. I was surprised and thought there was some pilferage. I took it to the bunk and asked him to fill to cut-off. Cut off was then reached within Rs. 100 athough the needle felt I could fill half a tank at least. Mental.

Ahh well... enough of the negatives, lets talk about the positives of the car too. Its been 2 years and I have driven it over the dirtiest and bumpiest patches of roads and the car still doesn’t rattle or squeak. Well, it has been rattling a bit over the last two days, but I think it is the remote in the glove box. Panel gaps or not, the car is built quite well and mercifully nothing has fallen off its socket, and nothing makes a sound while I am driving. The downside only being that the cabin is not well insulated from the engine. The revs are clearly heard inside and at times I wonder whether there is a Diesel engine out front. Of late, I ran out of wiper fluid, and when I tried it open the bonnet, I find that the bonnet doesn’t open. On checking with Tata, they say that the cable was cut and would take a couple of hours to fix. Upon hearing that, I went on my way, and I have not had to reach into the bonnet yet.

The suspension though soft, makes the car very comfortble to drive around in. At moderate to high speeds, the car is simply a bullet. It can take in the roughs in the roads wtih aplomb and is very steady and pliant. In fact on rough stretches of roads where the other vehicles twist and turn to find the tarred spots, I just plough on straight at around 30-40kmph and I do not feel a thing. At high speeds, the car is very stable and at times I needed to coax my wife to look at the speedo for her to believe that I was driving at over a 100 clicks. Of course, since the time I was caught by cops for overspeeding at 67kmph (the speed limit being 60), I have never exceeded the 60 mark. At time I do so without realizing, but I have trained my eye to look more at the speedo and less towards the road so that I immediately come back to 60 if I ever shoot up.

The car itself has quite a good pick up when I drive solo, but runs out of steam very quickly. It accelerates much better than many cars on the road, except the ones with the very high displacements. Maybe that is due to the gearing. One crib that I have is that the first gear is way too short. It darts forward like a rocket and before you try to recover from that pin to your seat, you are thrown forward since the engine redlined. At times the acceleration in the first gear is very smooth and a few times it surges forward unannounced, probably with the intent of giving the car in the front a whack on its backside. Either the ECS or the Clutch is to blame there I figure. Very scary when I have my kid in the car.

Oh then, there is that clutch - lifted from a truck I assume. The clutch pedal has such a looong throw and it is so hard and rough that I feel I am doing something wrong. But I could not have been wrong for 365x2 days. Getting into a good driving position has been very tough. Though I have kept the driving position steady for the last 2 years, over the last week I have had to drive a lot within the city and my back has gone totally bust. I don’t know what it is, but long rides have just killed my back and maybe that is due to the riding position. If I push the seats back so that my feet are comfortably away from the pedals, then my hands and shoulders stretch forwards and cause some strain. If I go closer to the steering, I get into a very bad angle and stress out my ankles. It is very irritating. Today I lowered the seat to the minimum and I think that position feels better though there was some hint of back pain. However, the steering is high up at the lowest setting and I think I might get a shoulder pain very soon, at this rate.

I also had my very first puncture (in my 4 years of riding a car) last month and I managed to replace the tyre all by myself which I consider a nice little achievement.

Finally the mileage is sad. I get around 10-11 kmpl with a light foot and 9 kmpl while driving a little spiritedly. With the petrol prices going up like one of NASA spacecrafts, I need to start worrying about my fuel bills, and Vista is not helping even one bit there. Which again is making me think of breaking my lease and getting myself a new car.

I would not say that the Vista has been a pleasure to drive and is not a car that I would like to keep. However it has been a reliable and comfortable people mover with the occasional excess bit of luggage to ferry. The car has served me well, though for my next car, I would like to step into something a few many notches higher in terms of quality.
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