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Old 19th October 2010, 16:36   #1
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Default Tata Venture - Test Drive

Traditionally, Tata is known to create segments rather than compete with existing product. Tata Indica promised more car per car. Tata Indigo gave Indian consumers a sedan at hatchback prices. Tata Safari ruled the roads when SUV word was unknown in India.Tata Nano achieved where world failed. And then there were Indigo CS, Indigo Manza and even the most recent Tata Aria, Each Tata Product created a segment for itself or widened traditional segment boundaries.

This time around though, Tata Motors has gatecrashed into Maruti Suzuki's party challenging its total domination in Van segment. It's new product, Tata Venture, is all geared to lock horns with both the Omni and Eeco.

So, Does Venture have in itself the virtues which will allow success in this otherwise 'unventured' lands especially since Omni is more or less synonymous with word 'Van'in India so much so that most junta don't know the product actually is called Omni and not Van ?

I had a chance to have a short test-drive and here is what I feel. But, before I put my views, here is a short disclaimer :
  • I am not looking to buy a Van in near future. I just chanced upon Venture's Test Drive.
  • The only knowledge of this segment I have is from ownership of a Maruti Omni 5 years back.
  • At points, I may have compared this vehicle with vehicles of other segments.
  • This are my personal views with no bias towards or against the product, the segment it features, or its competitors.

Tata Venture - Test Drive-tata_venture_f34_ns_10710_815.jpg

Design

When I first saw Tata Venture in flesh at AutoExpo 2010, I must admit I was impressed by it design vis-a-vis the current Maruti and wondered if Tata was really serious about launching the vehicle as it is in near future. And relieved I was, when once again I chanced upon a Tata Venture in dealer showroom few days back.

Traditionally, This is one segment where utility completely rules over aesthetics and is evident in little changes the current leader has undergone in terms of design over the past decade or more of its existence. Even the newer Eeco does not bring anything fresh on the table.

But Boy! Venture is all set to change this mentality. It may not be complete looker ready to walk the ramp but it is as aesthetically pleasing as a van could be anywhere across the globe. The design is strikingly european and the glass panel across the sides of the vehicle do give this vehicle a very upmarket look and feel.

The dashboard too is minimalist yet highly aesthetic. The steering wheel is borrowed from much premium siblings (Vista, Manza) and does lend a premium touch. All the knobs and buttons are easy to operate, though a touch flimsy for a product hell bent to re-define aesthetics in the segment. Further there is space all around for little things like bottles and maps and books for everyone and not just the driver and co-passenger.

What I did find diluting was the fact that driver and front passenger doors resemble Ace and its siblings far too much for an much upmarket product.

Overall, This van would impress, no doubt, at least in front of its competitors and may force Maruti Suzuki into reworking its strategy as far as aesthetics in this segment are concerned. It is certainly a USP for this product. But is it the deal cruncher ?

Dimensions

One of the key criterions for this segment is the dimensions of the vehicle. It should be able to ferry as many people as possible, Carry load as and when necessary, even do the odd jobs of mobile service centres, etc and all this work in the external dimensions of a small hatchback or at best a regular sedan.

Maruti Omni with its utility matched this purpose with much elan. What it lacked though was the passenger carrying capacity. It had the seats alright but they could never really be used for long touring. Maruti Eeco took this issue into consideration to an extent. Tata Venture takes one step back and then a leap forward to the issue. A Step back? Because it has the conventional three row seating as opposed to face to face seating in Omni. I preferred seating arrangement in omni to be far better. But then it leaps forward with the level of cushioning and support. Venture attempts to provide seating comforts of a regular car and succeeds to an extent. I can easily see this being a choice of vehicle for taxi operators wanting MUV type seating capacity at hatchback costs.

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Further, there is sufficient leg, knee and headroom for all the passengers. I did find driver seat to be a tad too high for my taste but then again I would be harsh considering my tastes are usually satiated by sedans and SUVs.

Seats can easily be removed like its competitors to make room for luggage. and the roof and floor are completely flat to allow maximum utilisation of space. There is ample space at the back even when seats are in place to carry luggage along with customers.

ENGINE & PERFORMANCE

Tata Venture is powered by the run of the mill 1.4 ltr TCIC engine doing duty in most Tata vehicles. There has been some refinement here, though and the vehicle will also be sold in a turbocharged avatar called ‘Turbomax’ as was launched in Tata Indica few weeks back.

Engine options in Venture comply to both Euro III (TCIC) and Euro IV (Turbomax) regulations which ups its ante against the Maruti Omni. All engine options are in Diesel option which will suit commercial buyers and taxi operators.

Engine is stowed under the front seating compartment as is with Omni. There is a small lid near the handbrake to access engine compartment from vehicle innards itself. This is particularly useful to check and replace engine liquids.

The engine is tuned to provide 71BHP of power at 4500 rpm and a torque of 135Nm @ 2500 rpm which is ample for the usage purpose of this vehicle and is way better than its competition.

Venture is sluggish on initial press of the accelerator but the power delivery improves soon after. The gearbox too has been tuned for bumper to bumper traffic with a very wide range. Yes, it does impact outright acceleration but improves in-city ride. On highway, it takes its sweet own time to reach peak speeds and must admit, I wasn’t expecting any better.

It cruises well in speed band of 60-90 kmph and push any further and you will be disappointed with the response. Further, I must add here that the vehicle still comes with drum brakes and in today’s age, this is probably a glaring error from Tata Motors. This vehicle (and its competitors) give shivers to drivers when it comes to braking. Travel distance in full braking from 60 kmph is heinously high.

Tata should have provided discs on the front wheels (at the very least!), period. On the other hand, what they did provide is power steering. I know, it is a norm for vehicles of today but you would be surprised to know that Omni has survived the decades without one and this is what makes this feature so special for Venture. It is a welcome feature for the vehicle of this size and aids in enhancing driving pleasure. Makes me wonder why Maruti kept it out of its loyal workhorse for so long.


RIDE AND HANDLING

Like all Tata Cars, Venture too is made for Indian roads and Indian driving conditions. While the suspension on this car can’t and doesn’t rival any of the hatchbacks or sedans, it surely scores well over its competitors. The seats too are comfortable for passengers and almost car like. There is sufficient leg room and thigh room for all the passengers. The ride in front compartment is a little too high (engine seats underneath front compartment) for comfort but is acceptable. The front passenger even gets heated seats complimentary!

On a more serious note, Venture does suffer from some body roll and last row of passengers have the feeling of being seated right on the wheel with much of vibrations from wheel moving into the compartment.

Noise and harshness levels in this vehicle are uncomfortably high and would surely score down when compared to Omni, Eeco and Versa reminding you once again of its Tata Ace lineage. Vibrations can be observed on every panel and is unsettling for first-time rider. Tata should consider dampening this vehicle more.

FIT AND FINISH

High NVH levels of the vehicle pose a bigger question for the Venture. Fit and Finish. Can Tata control rattling in vehicle with these high levels of NVH. Fit and Finish itself is below par even for the competition. Butterfly wipers are atrocious. They fell off in first use (I accidentally turned wipers on when I actually wanted to turn on indicators). Driver Seat belt in my vehicle was actually entagled in the seat so much so that the seat had to removed to get it out. The seats itself had a bit of rocking feel.

But after I have said this, I must also mention that it is not a complete disaster in fit and finish. It is still leaps ahead of older generation of Tata Vehicles. Gates shut with even gaps. There is hardly any trouble as far as dashboard design goes. Further, all plastic panels are nice to touch (at least for the segment), seats have fabric inserts on top models and even vinyl ones don’t look too cheap.

All in all, Fit and finish of the vehicle leaves more to be desired but can be updated in production without the need to wait for a ‘refresh’ or ‘MKII’.

VERDICT

Tata Venture positions itself under Tata’s flagship commercial carrier, Tata Winger. Even in passenger segment, It is sandwiched between old-gen Sumo Victa and New-gen Sumo Grande MKII (both of which are gasping for life).

It takes design cues from Tata Ace and improves on them for a more distinct van like character and achieves it with élan.

It is also the first vehicle to be sold by both Tata Commercial and Tata Passenger dealers giving it a much wider audience.

Barring some niggling Fit and Finish issues, Tata Venture comes out well when competed with others in the segment for this alone, it has the potential to sell large numbers. We assume that Tata will target rural and semi-urban towns to begin with and slowly move into urban cities.

So, Can this beat the Omni? I feel it has the potential. But the crucial point would be the final price points and the reach Tata can create for this vehicle vis-a-vis Maruti Sizuki.

Review added here: http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/test-d...ve-review.html (Tata Venture 1.4 TDi: Test Drive and Review)

Thread Closed

Last edited by Stratos : 7th June 2011 at 10:01. Reason: Added your driving impressions to the opening post itself
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Old 19th October 2010, 16:49   #2
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Thanks @akhilesh51 for this review - I was waiting for some TD report of this.

Did you take any snaps of the TD Venture?

waiting for rest of the review.
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Old 19th October 2010, 17:28   #3
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Is the Venture launched? Absolutely no news from TATA on this Launch. Aren't these pictures that were already posted.

Now bring in the important part. The drive
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Old 19th October 2010, 17:42   #4
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The good news is that Tata Motor's love with Diesel engines is still going strong.

Venture will be powered by 1.4L diesel engine producing 70bhp.
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Old 19th October 2010, 18:31   #5
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Thats a good review and please keep it coming. Can you give us more insight on the handling capability and approx costing?

The only down size I feel is that the front look always resemble Tata Ace which ever angle I look at (except for the headlights though).
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Old 19th October 2010, 19:48   #6
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Thanks akilesh. Still waiting for the actual review .

I am wondering how does venture compare with Winger? I assume that venture would be positioned below winger and in your opinion could the two vehicles co-exist in the TML stable?
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Old 19th October 2010, 20:07   #7
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Quote:
akhilesh51 (Tata Venture - Test Drive) : What I did find diluting was the fact that driver and front passenger doors resemble Ace and its siblings far too much ...
Exactly my thoughts. If Tata can change the front looks to sufficiently differentiate from the Ace, then it can make a lot of difference to it's prospects.

@Akhilesh, a few questions :
How was it to drive ?
Engine response ?
Ride ?
Handling ?
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Old 19th October 2010, 20:08   #8
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Thanks Akhilesh for the TD & sharing the report, I'm more interested to see the tech spec. BTW, is this a Diesel or Petrol or available in both? My gut feeling is that, its purely Diesel & 100% based on ACE.

I also see a difference in the seats between the middle & last row compared to driver & co-passenger; may be cost cutting isn't it? Also the middle row has an extravagance space compared to the last row or is this my perception?
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Old 19th October 2010, 20:12   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aargee View Post
I also see a difference in the seats between the middle & last row compared to driver & co-passenger; may be cost cutting isn't it? Also the middle row has an extravagance space compared to the last row or is this my perception?
Since it is a mid engined / Engine behind the front axle the space perception might be correct. There might be access panels below the seat and the Black piece of storage kit they have there in the picture
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Old 20th October 2010, 09:37   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gshanky View Post
Thanks akilesh. Still waiting for the actual review .

I am wondering how does venture compare with Winger? I assume that venture would be positioned below winger and in your opinion could the two vehicles co-exist in the TML stable?
For the first time,Tata will sell this product through passenger car as well as commercial vehicle dealer showrooms.

One question that comes to my mind.what will be the marketing strategy and how the product will be positioned.?
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Old 20th October 2010, 11:31   #11
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From what I had gathered earlier, the Venture is supposed to be launched in a 5 seater version and an 8 seater version.

Hope the 8 seater version comes with AC as well, unlike the Eeco, where the AC is unavailable for its 7 seater version, thereby eliminating it from my list when I was on the lookout for a people mover.

Wishing this product does well for Tata. Looking forward to do a TD when it arrives in Bangalore
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Old 21st October 2010, 21:12   #12
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What happened to the test drive?

Looks like the vehicle is already launched. Seems like a soft launch.
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Old 21st October 2010, 22:44   #13
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Wow venture if priced properly and with good interiors can definitely eat eeco and omini's market. Even the alto/estilo and santro buyers can be pulled to this van depending on the price.

Is this vehicle coming with diesel engine and AC? when is likely to be launched ?
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Old 22nd October 2010, 00:55   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joshguy View Post
Wow venture if priced properly and with good interiors can definitely eat eeco and omini's market. Even the alto/estilo and santro buyers can be pulled to this van depending on the price.

Is this vehicle coming with diesel engine and AC? when is likely to be launched ?
looks like pricing starts at 4.2 lakhs. it's already launched.

source: http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/commer...ml#post2113656 (Spotted: Tata Vehicle.. don't know which one EDIT: Tata Venture)
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Old 22nd October 2010, 09:01   #15
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@akhilesh51 - still waiting for your full review!!!
About the drive and also new pics from the TD.
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