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Suzuki’s new Swift hatch and sedan in SA

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Tata's new view with Indica Vista

2009-10-12 07:40

Lance Branquinho

Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Tata
Model Indica Vista
Engine 1.4l, in-line four
Power 55kW @ 6 000r/min, 65kW @ 6 000r/min
Torque 114Nm @ 3 250r/min, 116 @ 4 750r/min
Transmission Five-speed manual
Fuel Tank 44l
Weight 1 030kg
Steering Power assisted
ABS Yes (Ignis)
Airbags Yes (Ignis)
Front Suspension Macpherson struts
Rear Suspension Torsion beam
Service Plan 3 year/75 000km
Warranty 3 year/100 000km
Diplomacy aside, let’s just say the Tata's Indica is not a fantabulous car. Cheap perhaps, but you feel it in terms of the driving experience – acutely.

One could not much expect Tata to flesh out the Indica range with something worse. After all, beyond cars, Tata is a scarily large, and stunningly successful, multi-national company.

Jaguar and Land Rover are in the stable now and, with the Nano microcar, Tata has shown a willingness to gear up its car manufacturing and design to levels matching other, industry leading, parts of the company’s portfolio.


Available in three trim levels (all petrol powered, the compression ignition engines only arrive early next year) the new Vista is an infinitely better car than it forebear.

For a start, the Vista’s styling is a whole lot more contemporary, with those petal shaped headlamps adding attractive symmetry to the front view.
Around the hatch’s rump those elongated taillight clusters are reminiscent of the previous generation Ford Fiesta…

Dimensionally the new Vista is 125mm larger from bumper-to-bumper and 35mm wider, with the axles spaced 70mm further apart. The net result is, claims Tata, superior cabin space and comfort for occupants.

Range-topping Ignis features airbags and satellite steering wheel controls.

If you shift in behind the Vista’s helm, you’ll immediately notice a centrally located instrument binnacle - which obviously makes left- and right-hand drive conversions a lot easier (and cheaper) in the manufacturing process.


Cabin fascia surfacing boasts a two-tone plastic colour scheme, whilst infotainment capability is buoyed by a DIN music system which features USB connectivity. Ergonomics benefit from a height adjustable driver’s seat, whilst all three Vistas in the range feature power-assisted steering and air-conditioning.

Ignis model features neatly integrated infotainment unit and Bluetooth. Central dials are something which are not universally appealing...

Safety features - at the top end of the range... Of the three model derivatives (Ini, Aura, Ignis), only the range-topping Ignis features ABS modulated brakes and dual front airbags.

Mechanically, the new Vista is powered by Tata’s Safire monikered 1.4l Fiat sourced engine. The Ini and Aura models are moved along by an eight-valve version of the Safire engine (55kW and 114Nm), whilst the Ignis benefits from eight additional valves, upping power to 65kW and peak rotational force to 116Nm.

Suspension features coil springs all-round, with independent MacPherson struts up front and a torsion beam at the rear. Rolling in the Vista’s wheelarches are 175/65 tyres on 14-inch wheels. Staying true to its emerging market roots the Vista features a full-sized sparewheel – always a welcome feature considering South Africa’s abrasive roads.


Fiat-sourced engines are keen (in both eight- and 16-valve configuration), especially as they have only around 1 030kg to move around.

On a short evaluation drive, the Vista (we only drove the eight valvers) impressed with decent power delivery (all engines feature a continuous variable cam phaser). Ride quality is tolerable, yet damping and rebound are nowhere near European body-control standards.

The clutch take-up is nearly as finicky as a twin-plate racing set-up, which means in traffic, you’ll have to keep your wits about you to avoid stalling or lurching. All things considered, the new Vista is roomy, doesn’t have a overpowering plastic smell on the inside, and appears to have entirely reasonable engine performance.

With a range specced to suit first-time market entrants or value conscious buyers, it’s an infinitely superior car to the first Indica...

Vista Ini - R119 900
Vista Aura - R127 900
Vista Ignis - R139 900

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