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Old 20th October 2010, 18:35   #1
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Default Tata Indica Vista90 : Test Drive & Review

What you'll like :
  • Powerful, free revving engine. Great sounding note at high rpm too
  • Low-end torque supports driveability. Highway performance also satisfactory
  • Improved gearbox, light clutch and light steering make for effortless driving
  • Spacious interiors. Roomiest in the segment; beats some sedans
  • Absorbent, comfortable ride quality

What you won't :
  • Uneven panel gaps, fit and finish still have a long way to go
  • Soft suspension setup. Best driven sedately
  • Centrally-mounted instrument cluster takes some getting used to
  • Niggling issues & irritants persist (as reported by existing Vista owners)
  • Tata’s after-sales-service remains a gamble

The Vista D90:

Team-BHP's Review of the Vista D90 is located at this link (Tata Indica Vista D90 : Official Review)


Last edited by GTO : 13th February 2013 at 21:35. Reason: Adding link to the D90 Review
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Old 20th October 2010, 18:36   #2
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The Indian hatchback segment has never seen more action, and a slew of launches (including new entrants such as VW, Ford, Nissan etc.) have made the arena fiercely competitive. Till recently, the emphasis of most offerings in this segment was on fuel economy, size and ease of urban driving. However, the last couple of years has seen the Indian customer mature. Spending 6 - 7 lakhs for a big hatchback (a la Hyundai i20, Fiat Punto and Honda Jazz) isn't uncommon. Unfortunately, these premium offerings have been limited by their 1200 cc engines, thanks to government-provided excise benefits. So you have a premium hatchback loaded to the gills with equipment that can shame your C-segment sedan, but where is the power? Bring in the next wave of cars with powerful engines, aimed at not just the sensible hatchback buyer, but also the discerning customer who demands performance on the open road (including highways & expressways). We've recently seen the launch of the Volkswagen Polo 1.6, the Hyundai i20 1.4 CRDi and the Punto 90 hp. The latest to emerge on this power-hatch scene is Tata's new offering, the Indica Vista Safire90.



Since its introduction, the Vista has been powered by the 1.2 litre Safire65 engine. While the Vista Safire65 is available in four trim levels i.e. Terra, Aqua, Aura (w/ABS) and Aura+, the 1.4L 90 ps Safire90 engine is available only in the higher Aura (w/ABS) and Aura+ trim levels. The vehicle we tested was an Aura+ example which is the highest trim level available on the Vista range. The Aura and Aura+ trims get a host of features such as an integrated audio system with 4 speakers and 2 tweeters, an infrared remote control, the Blue5 Bluetooth system to pair your mobile phone or play music via A2DP profile, full fabric interiors, split 60:40 folding rear seats, height adjustment and lumbar support on the front seats, smart 14" alloy wheels, ABS with EBD and keyless entry.



The Vista 90 is offered in two new shades:





Another shot of the new Blue shade on offer:



Note : The blue examples were diesels and not Vista90 examples. They were painted in the new blue shade for us to see them in person. The red looks extremely good in person, and is well-complemented by the smart alloy wheels.

The line-up of Vistas ready to be handed over to us reviewers:



The front end of the Indica was refreshed with the launch of the Vista back in mid-2008. It was a welcome change, and gave the hatch a more aggressive, grown-up and mature look:



The large, prominent headlamps hog the attention up front, and provide good illumination of the terrain ahead:



Single crease running up the bonnet adds some subtle character to the front end:



The front fog lamps neatly integrated into the bumper. Also notice the rubber strip running below the front bumper, found on most hatches off late:



The side profile is dominated by a smart waist-line crease that runs with the door handles, but is largely reminiscent of the old Indica:



The side indicator lamp is given a smart clear-lens treatment on the Aura trims, and moves up from the usual position on the fender:



The rear did not change much with the Vista. The generic Tata rear-end was hardly touched with this iteration, and it has become quite common with the Indica / Marina and now the Aria. Tata needs to get some design flair into the rear end to complement the visually appealing Vista front:



Rear wash/wipe function a welcome feature, handy in the monsoons and in dusty environments:



Safire90 badge distinguishes the Vista90 from the earlier 65 bhp version:



Smart 14" alloy wheels compliment any colour, shod with 175/65 R14 Bridgestone B250 tubeless tyres:







Not exactly the performance predator, but a capable and powerful hatch nonetheless:



The doors open quite wide and it's convenient to get in and out:

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Old 20th October 2010, 18:37   #3
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Interior :



Slide in, and you will notice the usual beige interior theme that has become a rage in India in recent times. The interior has been given the dual-tone treatment, with shades that Tata likes to call Ebony Black and Vanilla Beige. A large glass area ensures that a good amount of light enters the cabin, and also ensures super all round visibility. The overall effect is pleasing, roomy and pleasant. What is interesting is that the bits - which should ideally not be beige in colour - are left black in the Vista. For example, as seen in the above picture, the dashboard top is finished in black, which ensures that in harsh sunlight, reflections on the windscreen are minimal. It is very comfortable to drive the Vista under the scorching afternoon sun. Another example (also visible in the above picture) is the door trim along the window frame, which tends to get dirty in beige due to habitual driving with the right arm rested on the window frame. Thoughtful or a coincidence, it's surely welcome.



Materials used for the dashboard are quite good, they do not feel like the el cheapo hard plastics which usually make their way into Tata cars. However, maybe a black panel for the centre console (and the two bits on the steering) would be more visually appealing than the weird shiny golden panel that Tata has decided to go with.

The centre console:



The centrally mounted instrument cluster housing the speedometer, tachometer, fuel gauge and an MID:



MID includes the odo, two trip-meters and the engine temperature gauge:



Large steering wheel. I have always wondered why Tata sticks this cheap plasticky badge on the steering wheel, instead of just putting their monogram there, for a classy and upmarket feel. Even the Aria suffers from this. It's like putting stickers instead of monograms on your bootlid in this day and age:



Vastly improved gearshift by Tata standards, but nowhere close to the best in the business:



The integrated music system has average sound quality, nothing out of the ordinary. Single CD slot and FM radio. Buttons are of decent quality:



What's worthy of mention is the presence of both, a USB slot as well as aux-in:



A unique feature here is the Bluetooth functionality. Pair your phone and you're good to dial hands-free:



The screen of the audio system is a low-res dot matrix example from the eighties:



Sufficiently large rotary knobs for the HVAC controls are easy to reach and operate, and feel well finished. AC cooling was quite effective, but right from blower speed 2 onwards, the air-con became noticeably audible, and bordered on intrusive. By the time the blower speed was at setting 3 / 4, it was annoying:



Some improvement with fit and finish; the air con vents are well fastened onto the dashboard panel and do not show any unpleasant panel gaps. Sufficiently large range of adjustment on all vents, but no option to shut off completely:



The key has an integrated remote-locking solution. An LED is also incorporated, and it flashes to confirm every press of the button:



A pair of cupholders just up ahead of the gear shifter. You can also see one of the two power sockets that the Vista has:



Door pockets cannot hold a bottle, and are quite shallow. Good only for documents & the like:



Glove compartment is quite large:



...and has separate compartments for holding a pen and the manual. It took some effort to get the manual in there, though:



The front seats are wide enough and supportive...



...and I did not have much trouble finding the right driving position, thanks to the height adjustment available on this top-end Aura+ model:



The internal rear view mirror as well as the external mirrors are large & provide good visibility:



Quality of stalks has improved significantly, in terms of material used as well as feedback on click / twist / flash. The vehicle is equipped with speed-adjustable intermittent windshield wipers:



Roof-mounted lamp (up front) is super cheap in appearance. They could have done better:



The rear bench itself is quite comfortable, although it's a bit flat and lacks under-thigh support. Headroom is good, and tall passengers will not be complaining. The bench has a slight hump in the centre, but it's not as bad as some of the other cars in the market today. A fifth passenger might be able to stick around over reasonably long durations. This is also helped by the floor-hump, which is quite low and flat:



Seen here is the minimum and maximum legroom available to the rear passengers. Also notice the little lumbar support knob on the side of the front passenger seat. Lumbar support standard on the driver seat as well as the passenger seat:



Available legroom with front seats set up for 6 footers:



The rear bench has a 60:40 splitting function. Very convenient for those days when there's extra stuff to lug around:



Boot space offered by the 232 litre is okay, though nowhere as large as you'd expect in a hatchback of this size. 4 - 5 such medium sized bags will fit comfortably:



Boot space with both rear seats collapsed. The rear parcel tray can be removed in a jiffy:



Spare wheel tucked underneath the floor of the boot. Note that the fifth wheel is NOT an alloy wheel. Learning the wrong stuff from the Germans, are we now?

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Old 20th October 2010, 18:38   #4
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So, this is what the fuss is all about. The Vista90 is powered by a 1368 cc 16 valve DOHC engine which puts out 89 BHP (@ 6,000 rpm) and 116 Nm of torque (@ 4,750 rpm). That's an increase of 25 BHP & 20 Nm torque over the 1.2L Safire65 petrol, and makes for the most powerful production Indica till date. Fire up the engine and the refinement levels seem to have been worked on; there is a marked improvement in NVH as compared to earlier Tata cars. Press the light clutch and move into first, the gearshift feels much smoother too. The car moves effortlessly off the line, but is no scorcher up until 3,000 rpm. Get past 3,500 rpms and the engine note becomes very pleasing; you actually start pulling to the redline in every gear, which is exactly how this car was driven on the Tata test track and the expressway. At high rpm, the Vista 90 can make good progress on the open road. Throughout this entire exercise, the engine felt refined, and only seemed to go out of breath at about 150 kph. Claimed top whack of 163 kph was never achieved, although something in the region of 145-150 kph was managed on the test track. Unfortunately, at high speeds, the light steering doesn't weigh up and isn't very confidence-inspiring although the high speed stability is quite commendable. It's only lane changes and sudden manoeuvres that have to be consciously controlled. Further, there is a significant amount of wind noise past 130 kph, and it is quite loud and audible, unless you have some music playing along on the drive. Tyre noise is well controlled and is not intrusive at high speeds.



On hard braking, the car does lurch forward but does not lose composure, and the brakes are well complemented by the ABS (standard on the Safire90). The brakes too need a bit more bite, and are spongy at the end of the travel, but overall they do a good job at hacking away the velocities. You would do well to avoid throwing this one into the corners though. Body roll is there and is quite discomforting, and in those situations the light steering doesn't help either. The 175 section tyres squeal around; I suspect a 185 upgrade would do wonders to this car.

Within the city, what's impressive is that the low-end grunt that this engine packs in ensures that you have enough power lower down the rev range for most urban driving conditions, such as the typical urban crawl, and relaxed highway overtaking maneuvers. In typical bumper-to-bumper traffic, the light clutch, light steering and low-end torque will translate into less hard work while inching forward repeatedly, and will definitely not wear you out within reasonable durations. All round visibility also helps in tight parking situations, and weaving in and out of heavy traffic and small lanes. There isn't a need to constantly shift down either. This powerplant is truly impressive in the way that it is flexible to suit most driving environments. That it's spirited nature is not complemented by the chassis is a different story altogether.

Thankfully Tata had arranged for a 1.2 Safire65 standby incase anyone wanted to have a go at it. I promptly did that, and it was only then that I could truly appreciate the difference that the ABS and extra power made. The 1.2 felt lethargic, coarse and strained when driven fast, and extremely discomforting under hard braking. The 1.4 on the other hand felt comparatively fast, reassuring and composed in similar conditions. Somehow, even the transmission felt much smoother in the 1.4, although I must admit that the shifts on the 1.2 car might have been horrid due to the car's age. Even the low end torque on the Safire65 felt poor in comparison, and I suspect that it would be an exhausting drive in urban bumper-to-bumper situations.

The soft suspension does not really help matters for a car that is being positioned as a performance machine (the A/V presentation we were shown depicted some serious tarmac-scorching stuff, leaving everything else biting dust!), but makes sense as a daily driver, given it's absorbent nature & comfortable ride over bad roads. The car employs an independent McPherson strut up front, while the rear gets a semi-independent setup.

The braking system is a ubiquitous front disc / rear drum setup:



The engine bay has quite a bit of empty space, behind the engine on the right:



Recommended tyre pressures on the Vista Safire90:



Overall, the Vista90 is not exactly the tarmac-scorching, hair-raising out-and-out performance car that Tata is pushing it to be. However, the new engine packs in a good amount of grunt with an extremely encouraging engine note that eggs you on. The car is now much more suited to city + highway runs. The chassis may not encourage spirited cornering but a majority of buyers, even for this car, will appreciate the ride comfort it offers. What Tata really needs to do is tighten up its tolerances and take fit, finish and build quality more seriously in order to avoid downers like uneven panel gaps and switch panels coming off. For the typical buyer who might want just a little more power from his hatch, the Vista90 presents a good case for itself as an able city car, and a reasonably powerful highway cruiser. A cruiser, yes, but no bruiser.



Disclaimer : Tata invited Team-BHP for the Vista90 test-drive. They covered all the expenses for this driving event.
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Old 20th October 2010, 18:38   #5
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Other Points :
  • Nicely backlit in white and blue, making it clear to read and visually attractive at night:

  • Interestingly, you can get into a fair bit of detail with the sound tuning on the audio system

  • Passenger sun-blind gets a large vanity mirror. The ladies will be pleased:

  • The car is equipped with ABS and dual front airbags. The passenger airbag can be disabled using the key with a slot that's placed beside the dashboard panel, and is visible when the passenger door is opened. A similar arrangement as seen on the Hyundai i20:


  • The now-common rear headrest design which not only provides good support when up, but also ensures good rearward visibility for the driver when pushed completely down. Also notice the reasonable C-pillar which does not obstruct rearward visibility much:

  • There is a second power socket placed beside the rear parcel shelf. While the placement is not exactly ideal, it does spell convenience in the form of a laptop / mobile phone charger for rear passengers:

  • The doors auto-lock once the car crosses 20 kph. Neat.
  • Driver's side window has one-touch-down function.
  • Meek single horn is really inaudible. Dual horn is a recommended upgrade for those highway trips.
  • Large headlamps give the car an aggressive character. Looks hot, especially in Spice Red and with those alloy wheels:
  • Build quality as well as the fit and finish on our test car was not up to the mark. Several spots showed inconsistent panel gaps, both on the exterior as well as the interior:
  • Inconsistent gaps around the rear tail lamp:
  • It continues inside...
  • ...and onto the power window panels. The switches themselves are of good quality:
  • It gets worse on the seat base:
  • A brief adjustment of the external driver side ORVM resulted in this happening on one instance. A gentle push and the panel snapped back instantly:
  • Buttttttt this happened when I was done with driving for the day, and flicked the driver's side window switch up!
  • The OBD was a bit of a mess too. Notice the absence of a dead pedal:


I don't know if these were just faults with the test car we had, or characteristics of all Vistas, but Tata really needs to tighten their tolerances in this regard. No longer is the playing field only populated by Marutis and Hyundais. With biggies like VW entering this segment, the consumer now has access to comparatively good build quality and levels of fit and finish.
  • The passenger-side wiper has an unusually long arm. Look closely at the picture, you’ll see it extending from one side of the windscreen to another! The wipers move in a rather complex manner:
  • Lateral shot of the interior:
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Old 20th October 2010, 19:00   #6
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That's one heck of a detailed review, FlyingSpur and, I must add, some stunning exterior pictures. Rating the thread a well-deserved 5 stars.

Here's how I see the Vista : It's a very competent hatch & I made several recommendations for the car, especially when it was launched in '08. However, in the last 1.5 years, there's been a slew of launches (Ritz, i20, Jazz, Beat, Figo, Polo etc.) and the Vista has simply....got lost in the crowd. Of course, the fact that it looks so similar to the earlier Indica (Related Thread (That's an Indica. Nope, Vista...Nah Indica!! SIGHHHH!)) and uses the same name (i.e. Indica) have restricted it from digging deep into the individual owner's segment.

Still, no hatchback can touch the Vista for interior space or ride comfort. It's a rare, genuine 5 seater car for 5 lakhs. Though my pick for the Vista would be the 1.3 MJD diesel, I can see how this 89 BHP petrol will widen the Vista's appeal. Great to see ABS as standard with this engine.

P.S. : I do think its about time Tata figured out how to fit interior parts properly. I mean, seriously!

Last edited by GTO : 20th October 2010 at 19:02.
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Old 20th October 2010, 19:09   #7
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Thats a fantastic review FlyingSpur. To the point and super attention to detail. I especially liked the exterior shots you have taken.

The Vista was the first step forward from Tata to move ahead in terms of quality which was followed by the Manza and now the Aria. Though they have done a good job at that, they still have some way to go as I can see from your review. Still it is a VFM hatch for the price and Tata does throw in some goodies as well. And the space and comfort you get in one of these is unmatched by the rest.

Rating this thread 5 stars.
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Old 20th October 2010, 19:25   #8
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a brilliant review my friend, rated it 5 stars
and really cool looking shots of the car, must say you managed to make that cherry red color look smashing on this car.

have always had a soft spot for this car, owned couple of them for 5 years each,love the space and comfort it offers, but the inconsistent quality and generic problems made sure it did not go for it a third time.

good to see things are improving but still they got a lot of catching up to do with the rest of the competition, if they can get their act together in quality control and the after sales department then this car can surely teach the cars in its vicinity a thing or two.

like the dark ebony treatment extended to the interiors and is quite well suited to our dusty environment.

really appreciate your keen eye for details after-all god is in the details
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Old 20th October 2010, 19:34   #9
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Great Review FlyingSpur. Really 5 Stars for this one.
And as GTO rightly said, some stunning exterior pics. Commendable job.

I think TATA's are somehow seriously reading TBHP reviews(and they should)..they are catching up with the missing action slowly into their cars(may be a bit too slowly). Vista undoubtedly was a welcome upgrade to the erstwhile Indica and with it not being offerred to the Taxi class, it meant a sigh of relief to the owners. I personally feel we have always gone overboard with our criticism of the use of Indica name. Its a genre name I feel TATA's want to carry. "An Indica for everything." So far so good.
Coming to the Saffire 90, yes it was highly needed. Saffire sales were always overshadowed by the MJD, and with petrol not a territory of the TATA's, buyers used to turn their likes away from this one. But now, its a good contender for sure, not sure it can give stiff competition though. With that offering, it will beat Figo Petrol for sure, K-series is still a big competition.

Nevertheless, great going TATA. They really need a pat on the back for learning faster than many others. And again for FlyingSpur, the review came out with flying colors.
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Old 20th October 2010, 19:43   #10
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Great review!
Anyone following the TATA threads in this forum ( and any other forum for that matter) must by now be totally immune to the fit and finish issues. I mean that it has reached a point when the mention poor fit and finish and poor attention to detail hardly strikes one as being something out of the ordinary!! ( The pics of the floor carpets in the Aria review actually had me in stitches! Shame on TATA . It's time that the company got out of the "Chalta Hai" attitude which is "Oh! so Indian!" and started behaving like a mature automotive manufacturer which produces mature products.
Come on Mr TATA, would you accept the standard of your own products if you had to buy them??
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Old 20th October 2010, 19:48   #11
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Whats the deal about dead pedal?
Its just a small protusion stamped outwards on the chassis. Or is there some evil expensive complexity under it?
I fail to understand why manufactures fail to give one.

And that picture in which the whole power window switch assembly took off? I was shocked!!!
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Old 20th October 2010, 19:51   #12
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A very well written review and a well deserved 5-star.

Coming to the product, those quality issues are really shocking. Its appalling that Tata still hasn't pulled up its sock.
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Old 20th October 2010, 20:01   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by download2live View Post
Whats the deal about dead pedal?
Its just a small protusion stamped outwards on the chassis. Or is there some evil expensive complexity under it?
I fail to understand why manufactures fail to give one.
I read somewhere, windscreen wipers (even manual ones) were developed years after the automobiles came into production. Seems the dead pedal for some is the same story, or may be its a part of a grand makeover next generation launch.

Quote:
Originally Posted by download2live View Post
And that picture in which the whole power window switch assembly took off? I was shocked!!!
May be TATA wants to show how modular their cars are : you take it out - you fix it back. Real Push and Play!
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Old 20th October 2010, 20:11   #14
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Avant garde review with avant garde pics, rated this a well deserved *****. The evening sunset pic is just amazing.

The rear end pic shows the vista badging bigger than the indica moniker. The estilo effect? FS, do you have a close up pic of the new vista badging?
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Old 20th October 2010, 20:38   #15
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Very detailed and brilliant review.

Makes me a bit sad though- what will it take for Tatas to realize that a knee jerk approach to Quality Control just won't do? Such a perfect car, yet half the target audience will rule it out only on the basis of low Quality.

On the other hand, the very same range of vehicles can turn out to be world beaters with the right attention to detail. Clearly a lot of attention has gone into design and engineering, only to be messed up with shoddy execution.
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