Upgraded, and yet…

Sep 21 2013, 03:02 IST
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SummaryAlthough the new Indigo eCS is a decent improvement over the previous model, it still leaves a lot to be desired

Recently, Tata Motors announced a customer-focused strategy for its passenger vehicles called HORIZONEXT. Under it, the company unveiled eight upgraded products across its five brands—enhanced versions of the Indigo eCS, the Sumo Gold, the Nano and the Indica; CNG versions of the Indica, the Indigo and the Nano; and the Explorer Edition of the Safari Storme. Tata surely needed this. After all, we have seen its vehicles falling behind in quality levels compared to those of its Japanese and Korean competitors. A four-pronged strategy, HORIZONEXT aims to intensify product focus; imbibe world-class manufacturing practices; enrich customer purchase experience; and keep a consistent quality of service. In fact, Karl Slym, managing director, Tata Motors, while talking about HORIZONEXT, said that the company intends to move to a strong podium finish in the passenger vehicle market.

So, how good are these upgraded vehicles? Of these eight, we choose the Indigo eCS diesel and try to deconstruct the changes.

First, a little history. In 2008, Tata launched the Indigo CS—India’s first compact sedan—which proved to be a very important car for the industry by ushering in a new segment. But since then Maruti and Honda took the lead by launching the Dzire and the Amaze, respectively, both hugely successful cars. (Hyundai is also planning to come up with a compact sedan next year.) Although the Indigo CS had its plus points—space and fuel-efficiency—it could never match up to its competitors in desirability. And that desirability is what the new eCS aims to achieve.

Now, the changes. The Indigo eCS is powered by a more refined CR4 engine that cranks out a maximum torque of 140Nm@1800-3000rpm. It also gets a new F-Shift (feather shift) gearbox. Then the car comes with the new Duo Float Suspension that enhances load distribution along the constituent elements for a smoother ride. While driving the car in and around Delhi we found that while 140Nm of torque seems decent in city driving, on the highway it somehow falls short of your expectations—the car struggles to overtake long vehicles in a higher gear and more often than not you have to downshift while overtaking. The gearbox, though, is now relatively easier and smoother to operate. The new suspension is slightly better and makes the rear-seat ride more comfortable. Although Tata claims to have reworked the NVH package, we found that a lot of external sound still seeps into the cabin. But there is

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