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Tata Indigo 1.4 SW

Broadcast dates : 16th October 2005
22nd October 2005

Tata says the Indigo cannot be referred to as a station wagon because itís much smaller than a conventional wagon. We would argue this point, as it looks remarkably like a wagon version of a Fiat Siena.

Itís the lowest-priced wagon on the market, and has a mixture of striking design features and shoddy workmanship, particularly in paint finishes. But as an overall package, itís not unattractive for the non-discerning buyer.

Small capacity engines in the sub 1,5 litre range are normally noted for an ability to rev smoothly up the rev-range.

Unfortunately the Tata engine doesnít have too much going for it in the charisma stakes.

It produces its power peak at a lowly 5500 rpm, but it doesnít sing sweetly in the manner of a small Fiat engine, for instance.
Its rated torque of 115 Newton metres is acceptable for a 1,4 litre, and on paper itís superior to the claimed figure of an Opel Corsa Lite, for instance.

In practice, though, the Tata engine is not in the same league as the established players in the market.

A glance at the station wagon sections in any price list reveals that the Indigo SW is some R20 000 cheaper than its nearest opposition. The question is, what sort of technology are you getting for around the R100 000 mark?

You ARE getting a bang for your buck in terms of size and features, particularly in this GLX version.

Evaluating the Tata is an interesting exercise. The sedan versions of the Indigo are amongst the twenty lowest priced vehicles in our market. But if itís a wagon you need, the Indigo jumps right out at you. Itís R20 000 cheaper than the van-based Citroen Berlingo, but some R50 000 cheaper than the similarly configured Peugeot 206 SW.

On a price-for-price basis, the Tata looks good. But itís in the fields of design and engineering that we feel the Indigo lags behind.

Dynamically this car is stuck in the late 1980s or early 1990s.

The GLX model gets ABS braking and dual airbags, and if youíre going to buy a Tata SW, then the additional R13 000 for the GLX is money well spent, for these critical safety features.

You also get seat belt pre-tensioners and load limiters to go with the airbags.

But in terms of overall integration, engine performance, feedback through the steering wheel, gearshift accuracy and even seating comfort, the Tata needs work.

A quick drive around the block in a Golf 1-based Chico, a Toyota Tazz based on 1988 design, or a Corsa Lite, will tell you so much more about intrinsic design integrity.

On the other hand, if dynamics arenít important to you, then the Tata makes sense as an affordable new car with the attendant benefits of warranties, servicing and maintenance.

An effort has been made to elevate the car to international levels, but even some of the luxury features such as the buttons for the electric windows, seem to have been added as an afterthought.

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